Major League Baseball Implements Major Rule Changes Coming Into Effect Next Season… Including Base Size Increase, Defending Shift Ban, and a Pitch Clock
- A majority of the Race Committee members approved three changes
- Pitch timers improve game speed and reduce dead time
- Rules also require two players on each side of second base and on the dirt
- Finally, the size of the bases has increased by three square inches to 18 inches
Major League Baseball made three rule changes on Friday that will change the modern game, including the installation of a pitch timer and a ban on the defending team.
The rules approved by the majority of the new Joint Race Committee members will go into effect for the 2023 season, beginning during spring practice and continuing through the postseason.
MLB says the three changes taking place are designed to make the games faster, the action more exciting and the game safer for players.
Major League Baseball has agreed to 3 rule changes at the start of next season
The approved changes are:
–Addition of the pitch timer, designed to improve game speed and reduce dead time. Pitchers have up to 15 seconds between pitches if the bases are empty and up to 20 seconds between pitches with at least one runner on base to bring the ball to home plate. Pitchers must begin their move before the timer expires, and they are also allowed to step off the rubber only twice per striker plate. That includes retrieval attempts. A third dismount results in a balk (unless the runner is excluded). Hitters must be in the penalty area with at least eight seconds left on the clock and may only be given one timeout per at bat.
–A team ban, requiring the defending team to have two infielders on each side of second base when the pitch is thrown. All four infielders must have both feet on the infield when the pitcher is standing on the rubber. The goal is to bring more balls into play.
–A change in the size of the bases from 15 inches square to 18 inches square. Minor league testing this season showed that basepath injuries decreased by 13.5 percent. Since the larger bags reduce the distance from first to second base and second to third base by 4 1/2 inches, more attempts at stolen bases should follow.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred believes the moves will improve the game for fans and players
While Commissioner Rob Manfred praised the changes, the Major League Baseball Players Association disagreed.
The joint committee was established as part of the new collective labor agreement that was signed earlier this year.
Of the 11 members, six are team officials who own, four players and one represents the umpires.
“These moves are designed to improve pace of play, increase action and reduce injuries, all goals that have had overwhelming support from our fans,” Manfred said in a statement from MLB.
“During the extensive testing of recent years, Minor League personnel and a wide range of fans – from the most loyal to casual observers – have recognized the collective impact of these changes to make the game even better and more fun.”
MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark Says The New Changes Don’t ‘Meaningly Address Players’ Focus Areas’
The MLBPA disagreed in a statement.
‘Players experience the game, day in and day out. The rules and regulations on the pitch affect their preparation, performance and ultimately the integrity of the game itself,” the statement said.
“Player leaders from across the league were involved in on-field rules negotiations through the Competition Committee, providing specific and actionable feedback on the changes proposed by the commissioner’s office.
Major League Baseball was unwilling to meaningfully address the concerns raised by players, and as a result, the players on the league committee voted unanimously against implementing the rules regarding defensive shifts and use of a pitch timer.’
MLB also announced Friday that it has reached a multi-year agreement to extend the deal with PitchCom, the technology used to facilitate communication between catchers and pitchers. All 30 teams have used PitchCom on a voluntary trial basis this season.