Image Courtesy of NPR

By Zachary Lichter

The 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) season transformed baseball by making the game faster, adding three new rules. How did the MLB achieve this?

The biggest rule was adding a pitch clock. Pitchers now have 15 seconds between pitches when bases are empty and 20 seconds if a runner is on base. If the pitcher violated the timer, they are charged with an automatic ball. Batters who violate the clock are charged with an automatic strike. 

For example, if a player is not in the batter’s box or making eye contact with the pitcher by the eight-second mark. If a base runner decides to steal the base, the pitch clock is reset back to 20 seconds.

 So, how did the pitch clock make a difference this season? According to Forbes, the average length of a regulation game was two hours and 39 minutes, a 24-minute decline from the average length of a regulation game in the 2022 MLB season. Only nine games this season that were at least “3 ½ hours or longer.”

“I actually liked the pitch clock,” David Fritz III, a junior accounting major and philosophy minor said. “It added a quicker pace to the game, and it felt like pitchers and batters had to stay more focused. I think it worked well, and MLB should consider keeping the pitch clock rule. My one hesitation, though, is the effect it has on walk-up songs. I went to a few Phillies games over the summer and it was disappointing when songs would be cut-off after 5 seconds.”

The second rule added this season was limits on defensive shifts. When the pitcher stands on the rubber, the infielders have to stand on the outer part of the infield. 

Infielders are also not allowed to switch sides. Before the league implemented this rule, managers were allowed to shift their infielders to any side of the infield. This allowed for changes if a batter is known for hitting the ball to one side of the field or another. The manager can decide to have all four of their infielders shift over to that side of the infield so they can quickly get the batter out. Now, infielders are not allowed to switch sides, they have to stay on their side of the field.

 Since the new rule was implemented, batting averages are .248, a five-point increase from the 2022 MLB season. The average number of runs scored in a game was 9.2, a 0.6 increase from last season.

The last rule added this season was bigger bases. The bases were previously 15 square inches, and this season, they were 18 square inches. The point of increasing the bases was that players could avoid collisions. With the base size increasing, there were 1.4. stolen bases in 1.8 attempts per game. The number of stolen bases increased to 80.2% at the end of the season, which is a new record for MLB.

Henry Escandon, a junior marketing major, commented on increasing the size of the bases.

“I did not really understand what the league was trying to accomplish by increasing the size of the bases,” Escandon said. “However, I do think it played a role in the increase in stolen bases. Stolen bases make the game fun and add a different element to the game. Baseball had been dominated by power hitting sluggers and home runs in recent years, and it was refreshing to see a different element of the game being implemented more often.”

With the new rules implemented for the 2023 MLB season, a lot of new records were set. There was an increase in stolen bases, runs scored, and batting average. The league also fulfilled its goal of shortening the game. According to Sports Illustrated, Rob Manfred, the Commissioner of MLB, plans to use the rules from this season into next season. He liked how the rules were able to make the game go faster, and he was happy with the results these rules created.

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