The 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) season is in full swing with a few new rules to change up the pace of play. A handful of new rules were put into effect this season that have caused some conversation in the world of baseball. However, three stood out in particular. These are a ban of the shift, larger bases in width and length, and lastly and the most controversial, the pitch clock.
The first two of these rules are more for player benefit. The ban of the shift, which previously allowed more than two players to line up on one side of the infield, opens the opportunity for players to get more base hits. The new rule states, “At the time a pitch is thrown, all four infielders are required to be on the infield dirt (or infield grass) with two on each side of second base,” according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN.
As far as larger bases go, the size increased from 15 inches to 18 inches this year which aims to increase action along the base paths. That has been just the case as the MLB’s stolen base efficiency is over 80%, and according to the MLB, “If runners keep successfully stealing at the same rate they are right now, MLB will see a record-setting season in stolen base efficiency in 2023. It would be the first time that the league stolen-base percentage eclipsed 80%.”
However, the rule that has caused the biggest flurry of both positivity and negativity reactions is the new pitch clock rule. This rule, as described on ESPN, states, “Pitchers will have 15 seconds to throw a pitch with the bases empty and 20 seconds with a runner on base. Hitters will need to be in the batter’s box with eight seconds on the pitch clock.”
The way that this rule will be enforced is through punishment if the requirements are not met. This means that if a hitter were to fail the requirement, a “strike” would be added to the batter’s count, and if the pitcher failed to meet the requirements a “ball” would be added to the batter’s count.
The goal that the MLB is trying to achieve with this new rule is to speed up the pace of play. On average, an MLB game during the 2022 season would surpass three hours, and now, only two weeks into the 2023 season, there is a decrease of 30 minutes per game.
There have been mixed reactions from players and coaches alike with the incorporation of these new rules, but the adjustment the rules force on the players is what is being talked about most.
In an article from MLB, Texas Rangers All-Star second baseman Marcus Semien said in regard to the pitch clock rule, “It felt like baseball… so we’ll just keep playing and keep getting used to the new rules.”
On the other side of things, in an article by The New York Times, New York Mets All-Star relief pitcher David Roberston said, “I felt like I was at warp speed… That’s a lot of games to play at that pace.”
While these new changes were put into place in the MLB, they first started at the Triple-A level to be tested there before moving up. With that being said, there is the possibility of this rule moving down the line to college baseball or high school baseball to help players start to get acclimated to it before reaching the big leagues.
As a result of this possibility, Baylor University first-year business major and club-baseball player Vince Bendinelli shared how his view of the rules has evolved.
“At first I did not like the idea of the pitch clock,” Bendinelli said, “but the more I watch games the more I feel like it is beneficial for the sport of baseball. I think athletes would benefit from these rules being implemented at the college level, so they come in more prepared.”
Ohlone College first-year business major and college baseball player Carson Burnett also expressed his appreciation for the way the rules have impacted the game.
“I love being in an engaging game, either as a fan or a player, and now I think with all of these rules, that can be reached in almost every game played,” Burnett said. “The MLB hit it on the head with these rules that are now in effect this year and I hope that they are here to stay.”
San Diego Padres front office employee and longtime Padres fan Kevin McNamara holds a different view than the baseball players.
“I am more of an old-school fan. I really liked the longer games, and now with the games being shortened by the pitch clock rule, it barely feels like an MLB game anymore,” McNamara said.
With the variety of opinions shared by baseball players, coaches, fans and others, will these rules stay, or will they be short-lived?
Written By: Trevor Gould