NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball is introducing some of its most radical rules next season, adopting a pitch clock and limiting defensive turnovers after using advanced analytics to create a slow, fun sport.
The decisions were made on Friday by the sport’s 11-man competition committee with the team’s four players voting against it. Commissioner Rob Manfred pushed the innovations along with a management team that included Boston and Chicago Cubs executive Theo Epstein, now an MLB consultant.
“The flow of information in our industry has not improved the game from an aesthetic standpoint or an entertainment standpoint,” Epstein said. So now in my role it’s my responsibility to try to see the bigger picture, to think about what’s best for the fans.
Players supported a third major initiative: larger bases, which are expected to reduce injuries and lead to more stolen bases due to a 4 1/2-inch reduction in pitch.
Manfred called the rules an attempt to “bring back the best baseball.”
“Number one, fans want faster games,” he said at a news conference. “Two, fans want more action, more balls per game. And three, our fans want to see more athleticism from our great players.
Union boss Tony Clark was absent when the deal ending the 99-day lockout was announced in March.
“Players live the game – day in and day out. On-field rules and regulations affect their preparation, performance and ultimately the integrity of the game,” the union said in a statement. “Major League Baseball has refused to meaningfully address the concerns raised by players.”
The pitch clock is set at 15 seconds with no runners on and 20 seconds with runners on – 14/19 and 14/18 at lower league levels this season tested in Triple-A.
MLB will have a limit of two of what it calls outs — pick attempts or outs from the rubber — per plate appearance, and unless an out is called for a third or more. The separation limit, which some players predict will benefit base runners, resets if a runner advances.
A catcher needs to be in the batter’s box with nine seconds left on the clock and focus on the pitcher with eight seconds left. Penalties for infractions will be a ball called at the pitcher and strikes at the batter.
A batter may ask the umpire once per bowl and thereafter only at the discretion of the umpire if the question is made in the batter’s box.
Some players have suggested switching to late and closer situations, which has helped reduce the average time of a minor league 9-inning game from 3 hours, 4 minutes in 2021 to 2:38. This year’s major league 9-inning average is 3:07, up from 2:46 in 1989 and 2:30 in the mid-1950s.
“It reminded me of the game I grew up watching in the ’70s and ’80s,” said former outfielder Raul Ibanez, now MLB’s senior vice president.
Two infields on either side of second and all infields must be in the outer boundary of the infield when the pitcher is on the wheel. Infielders cannot switch sides unless there is a substitute, but five-man infields are still allowed, MLB executive vice president Morgan Seif said.
In the year There has been a shift in hit balls from 2,357 in 2011 to 28,130 in 2016 and 59,063 last year, according to Sports Data Solutions. Shifts are on pace for 68,000 this season.
“I think fans appreciate the tough defensive shifts that are left when games are decided not by their team’s fielding, but when their second baseman is able to play everything on the line and get athletically deep.” ” said Epstein.
MLB’s season batting average has dropped from .267 in 1997 to .243 this year, while the earned run average has dropped from 4.77 to 4.33.
“The game has evolved in a way that no one could have picked when we sat down 25 years ago to carve out the path to the best version of baseball,” Epstein said. No one would ask fans to wait more than four minutes for balls to be played. No one was asking for groundouts and stolen bases, triples and doubles.
The base size increases from 15 to 18-inch squares—less likely to be stepped on by first basemen.
Additionally, each team is allowed to visit the sixth mound in the ninth inning the following year if it uses five in the first eight innings.
Until last summer, MBB needed a year’s notice to amend field rules without union approval, forming the Lockout Agreement Committee in March. Its members include St. Louis CEO Bill DeWitt Jr., San Francisco chairman Greg Johnson, Colorado CEO Dick Monfort, Toronto CEO Mark Shapiro, Seattle chairman John Stanton and Boston chairman Tom Werner and judge Bill Miller. Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow, Blue Jays infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield and Giants outfielder Austin Slater represented Friday’s players, a team that included Cubs infielder Ian Happ as an alternate.
“It’s hard to get consensus among a group of players to change the game,” Manfred said. “I think at the end of the day what we did here was about giving the fans the kind of game they want to see.”
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