MLB adjusting to new rule changes in 2023



Major League Baseball has added several new rules this season. These have the potential to radically alter the way games take place.

ADAM JOHNSON, Sports Writer

Last year in baseball, every team in the majors combined for 2,487 stolen bases, the average game lasted three hours and three minutes and at times you might see every defensive infielder on the right side of the second base bag. This year, it looks like there are going to be a lot more stolen bases. As of April 3 the average game has lasted around two hours and 38 minutes, and the infield has to be set up in a more traditional alignment. A lot has changed since last season, and the reason is because of some big rule changes in the game. 

One of these rules is the newly added pitch timer. The goal of this new rule was to speed up games, and it has been extremely successful. The games have been nearly 30 minutes shorter on average so far this season. At the beginning of an inning or after another player’s at bat, the next batter has 30 seconds to get ready for the at bat. Between every pitch, the pitcher has 15 seconds to throw their pitch if there is no one on base. If there are runners on base, they have 20 seconds. One final aspect of this rule is that the pitcher can only attempt a pickoff two times, and if they do not get the runner on the second attempt, the runner has a much better chance of stealing knowing the pitcher cannot throw over. Not only has this quickened up the games, but it has also increased the number of steals. 

Another rule that helps with the steals is the addition of bigger bases. In prior years the bases have been 15 inches, but this year they have increased in size to 18 inches, with the exception of home plate which stays the same size. The increase in size makes the bases a little bit closer to each other, encouraging more base stealing, and it can also help give more space to avoid injuries. 

The final rule that has been implemented this season is a limit on the defensive shift. Every team must have a minimum of four players on the infield, and at least two on each side of the second base bag. The idea behind this is to increase the batting average of balls in play, and to allow players in the field to showcase their fielding abilities. 

All of these rules have been implemented to try and improve the game of baseball and make it more enjoyable for the spectators. The impacts of these rules have already begun to be felt this season in the MLB. It will be interesting to see if these rules will or will not help with fan engagement in a sport that has seen a steady decline in viewership over recent years.