It’s MLB Opening Day! Here’s A Quick Guide To New Rules
Finally! The Major League Baseball owners realized that their product was grinding to a dull-stop. Teams were losing their younger fanbases exponentially, year-by-year. In spring training, this year's rule changes have definitively increased the pace of play. Does everyone like them? No, but I like most of them and you probably will too!
For the casual fan, the game will certainly be more exciting with a faster tempo for 9 innings. For the traditionalist, the one's who want no rule changes, sorry but MLB ownership was not ready to watch their product die. So, here's a quick guide to what you'll notice right away and how it will help.
#1 The Pitch Clock - Thank You!
According to ESPN.com, pitchers will now have 15 seconds to deliver a pitch with no one on base and 20 seconds with a runner on base. Hitters will now have to be in the batter's box with eight seconds on the pitch clock. This is a rule that will need some fine tuning but it was desperately needed. Pitchers and hitters were taking way too long. Yes, in the 9th inning and beyond, this rule should be altered. However, the pitch clock alone will increase the popularity of watching baseball.
#2 Bigger Bases Will Mean More Offense
Stolen bases make the game of baseball more fun. They add a strategy and dynamic to the game that has been lost over the last decade. As video and analytics have changed how teams defend and employ the base-stealing strategy, the new larger bases, now 3 square inches bigger, shortens the distance for runners, therefore increasing their chances of being safe. The hope is that the newly-sized bases will increase each team's aggressiveness on the base paths; bigger leads, stolen bases, bunt plays, squeeze plays. All good things to make baseball more fun.
#3 No More Shifting 3 Infielders Will Create More Offense
"The Shift" has been used quite efficiently to defend "pull-hitters" for the last decade. "Pull-hitters" meaning players that consistently hit the ball to their strong side, see Joey Gallo...Eliminating the ability for teams to shift their shortstop to the first base side of the infield will provide hitters more space to hit to their "strong side." According to MLB statistics, this rule change has resulted in more offense this spring. This is a good rule because teams never did this in the past. You want your power hitters to hit the ball hard. They do that when they "pull" the ball and that makes the game more fun.
#4 The Rule I Don't Like
MLB has decided to limit the number of pick-off attempts a pitcher can execute. I understand the premise but you can't make the bases bigger, which in-turn will make leads larger, and then limit the pitcher ability to keep that runner from stealing the base. That, to me, is ridiculous. Pitchers are allowed two pick-off attempts per plate appearance without penalty. The disengagement of the rubber rule will reset, if a runner or runners advance a base within the same plate appearance. The pitcher will be charged with a balk for a third unsuccessful attempt. Sorry. This is a dumb rule and should be eliminated completely. However, overall, Major League Baseball got these changes right. MLB owners, the player's association and the rules committee have pledged to tweak "as needed." Check out the rest of the rules and complete explanations below from Theo Epstein and the crew at mlb.tv.