Major League Baseball has passed a sweeping set of rule changes it hopes will fundamentally overhaul the game, voting Friday to implement a launch clock and ban defensive changes in 2023 to speed up the pace of play and increase action.
The league competition committee, made up of six property-level representatives, four players and a referee, approved a 15-second timer with empty bases and 20 seconds with runners, a defensive lineup that must include two defenders on either side of the second-base sack with both feet on the ground as well as rules limiting pick-up moves and increasing the size of bases.
The vote was not unanimous. Player representatives voted no on the change and pitch-clock parts of the changes.
Long tested in the minor leagues, the pitch clock, when strictly enforced, has dramatically accelerated the speed of games. Minor league games this season have always lasted under 2 hours and 30 minutes – a time considered by many to be ideal – and average game times have leveled off a bit.
The rule is strict: the catcher must be in position when the clock reaches 10 seconds, the batter must have both feet in the batter’s box and be “alert” at the 8-second mark, and the pitcher must begin his “pick motion.” throw “. when the clock expires. A violation by the pitcher is an automatic ball. One by the batter constitutes an automatic hit.
Banning defensive changes, which were once a fringe strategy but have become a normal occurrence and bane of left-handed hitters, is among the most extreme versions, preventing movement of defensive players in multiple directions. With the four infielders having to be on terra firma, the days of the four-man outfielder setup will be over. Even more relevant, moving an infielder to play short right field, or simply moving three infielders to the right side of the second base sack, will no longer be legal.
The position of defensive players can be reviewed – and, if a defense is found to be illegal, the batting team can choose to accept the outcome of the play or take an automatic ball instead.
By limiting disengages with the mound, whether via a scooping motion or a step, the rules hold pitchers accountable who would otherwise have a pitch clock workaround – and are likely to significantly increase stolen bases. , a portion of MLB stock destined to rise.
Pick-offs and step-offs reset the pitch clock, and the rules will limit pitchers to two for each plate appearance. (The number would be reset if a runner advances.) A pitcher can make a third outing attempt, but if unsuccessful, it will be a refusal, allowing runners to run up one base.
In a statement Friday, the Major League Baseball Players Association explained why the players on the competition committee voted unanimously against setting the pitch clock and banning the shift.
“Player executives across the league participated in on-field rules negotiations through the Competition Committee, and they provided specific and actionable feedback on the changes proposed by the commissioner’s office,” says the press release. “Major League Baseball was unwilling to meaningfully address the issues of concern raised by players and as a result, the players on the competition committee voted unanimously against implementing the rules regarding defensive changes and the use of the clock.”
Meanwhile, the bases will grow from 15 square inches to 18 square inches, with expectations that the larger size will reduce collisions around the bag while slightly shortening the distance between the bases.
Additionally, teams will be granted an additional visit to the mound in the ninth inning if they have exhausted their allotted five visits. If a team still has remaining visits, they do not receive any additional ones.
Prior to 2022, rule changes were solely the league’s bailiwick, which could implement changes on the pitch one year after notifying players that it was planning to change a rule. As part of the new collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the MLB Players Association, the deadline for implementing the rules was accelerated to 45 days and included the creation of the competition committee, which players would participate in.
The committee includes Seattle owner John Stanton, St. Louis owner Bill DeWitt, Boston owner Tom Werner, San Francisco owner Greg Johnson, Colorado owner Dick Monfort, Toronto president Mark Shapiro, pitcher of Tampa Bay Tyler Glasnow, St. Louis pitcher Jack Flaherty, Toronto super utility Whit Merrifield, San Francisco outfielder Austin Slater and umpire Bill Miller.
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