MLB Goes Wild: Baseball Will Never Be The Same with MLB Rule Changes 2023

John Means

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Baseball Will Never Be The Same with MLB Rule Changes 2023

Hold it there! Before you go and enjoy the next baseball season, are you aware of MLB rule changes in 2023?  

In early September 2022, Major League Baseball proposed a set of contemporary rules hoping to remodel the baseball game. In the following year, three rule changes are put into play to improve the tempo and safety of the game. 

So, when you enjoy the match and something doesn’t feel familiar to you! We are here to describe all the MLB rule changes. Buckle up your seatbelts. 

MLB Rule Changes History: Where It Started 

Baseball Major Leagues went through three major rule changes around March 2023. Back in the Spring, there were multiple training games to figure out how these changes will affect the new season! It turns out they fit perfectly in Baseball to improve pace with increased on-field action. 

Now, we will dive deeper into where it all started: 

Back in 2022: The Proposal 

In September 2022 Major League Baseball’s Competition Committee decided to vote to finalize the ultimate MLB rule changes 2023. 

Note: The Competition Committee of Major League Baseball, developed in 2022, is responsible for the improvement of the overall baseball tournaments. They recommend and also approve changes in the game and score rule.

The committee consists of eleven members in total – Six Club Representatives, four MLBPA Player Representatives, and One Umpire. Ultimately, the commissioner’s office is in charge of the outcomes of the competition committee process. 

The committee went through a rough poll and finally passed down three effective rules to improve the game’s performance. 

  1. New Pitch Clock 
  2. Banned Defensive Shift
  3. Increased Bases to Increase Safety 

These changes ultimately won the votes of the majority – although players’ representatives were against banning defensive shifts and pitch clock portions. They argued that pitch clocks can disturb the natural flow of baseball; hampering pitch planning strategies.

However, despite their concerns, the pitch clock has proven to be promising in the Minor Leagues. It has been reported that Minor League games this season have effectively clocked under two and a half hours under this new pitch. And we are hopeful it will also have a positive impact on the MLB.  

Implementing New Baseball Rules

Seventeen months before, the MLB and MLB Players Association (MLBPA) had the biggest labor battle in history. The dispute ended with a 5-year collective agreement between the MLB and MLB Players Association. 

In the agreement, it was decided to set the implementation period for any change in baseball to 45 days. Also, MLB proposed the creation of a Competition Committee; where players’ participation was official. 

In short, players’ flexibility and adaption to new rules were the initials in mind while adapting to MLB Rule Changes.

Ian Happ, Outfielder of the Chicago Cubs, said, “The players’ point of view is that we would rather move slowly and make sure the game looks the way the game looks now and keep making changes if we needed to, in a stricter direction, as opposed to going all the way strict and working backward from there,

Thus the new rules were implemented following the mutual policies. There was a full month of spring training before officially putting the new MLB rule changes in the field. The Minor Leagues followed the new adaption in the previous seasons. And guess what! it went successfully. 

Three Major MLB Rule Changes – Designed for More Excitement

Let’s learn more about the three major improvements in the MLB rules. 

Three Major MLB Rule Changes

Pitch Clock – Short Games; More Actions

Probably, the most noticeable modification in MLB rules is the Pitch Clock; also known as Pitch Timer. From this season, Pitchers have fixed time.

This also depends on the conditions of the bases. When the bases are empty, pitchers have 15 seconds to pitch. And if there is a runner on the base, pitchers have 20 seconds.  

Why Pitch Clock? 

Major leagues often need 3 hours on average to wrap up the game. However, the game time has been increasing lately. It has been noticed that three hours have passed and the game is far from getting results. With prolonged time, attendants lose the charm of the game and start to get bored. You may also notice people leaving the stadium. 

According to Statcast’s tempo tracker, in 2022 average time a pitcher used to throw the pitch with an empty base is at least 20 seconds. The same goes for 109 other pitchers.  

Thus, Pitch Clock/ Pitch Timer was proposed to limit the time a pitcher should take before he throws the ball. 

How Pitch Clock Is Implemented? 

In case, the pitcher does not start to pitch within the allocated time and fails, the batter will earn the privilege to have a ball. On the contrary, if the batter takes more time to enter the box, he will have a strike on his back. 

To implement it successfully, each umpire has the technology to measure the pitch clock. It will inform them when the timer has expired. 

Players’ Opinion on Pitch Clock

The players welcomed the pitch clock with mixed impressions. It created more debates than the other two changes in rules. 

Mark Canha, outfielder -New York Mets, said, “ Favorite thing — the games being over in 2½ hours more often than 3½ hours. I do remember last year my garage near my apartment where I was parking my car closed at 12. So it’d be like [with] my wife and my kids, it was a rush to get home just to make it to the garage sometimes.

The MLB claimed that Pitch Clock reduced the game period by 26 minutes on average. And we agree on that too!

While players like Mark Canha are happy with this new rule. We also have Bryce Harper (Right Fielder; Philadelphia Phillies) and others who are not quite satisfied with this change in baseball.

In an interview, he told the reporter, “I know a lot of players that want our game back, right? But as of right now, it is what it is.

Clearly! He is not alone to dislike this new feature of the game.

The Shift

Shift defense has been a popular form of defense strategy for a long time. However, this year, the shift strategy had some alterations. The new rule offered the players to rearrange according to every hitter’s physical strength and weakness.  

Earlier, three infielders lined up on only one side of the infield. The opposed team took it to their advantage and placed the infielders on any specific side of a batter. For example, imagine all the infielders on the right side of the 2nd base or in the outfield.

The new rule states that all four infielders will take place on the infield dirt with two other players on each side of the second base. Players can move as soon as the pitcher leaves the ball. 

Why Shift Defense Is Banned? 

Earlier, infielders were not allowed to move to the other side of the game until the completion of the game; without a mid-innings substitution. However, this allowed them to switch to the short or third base in the next innings. 

Why Shift Defense Is Banned

With shift defense disabled, the last season had a batting average of 0.291 on balls; more than the average (0.250). 

Note: Batting Average (AVG) is one of the classical and universal measures to determine the hitter’s success. It ranks between 0.000 to 1.000. By average, the league-wide batting average (AVG) has improved to around 0.250 in recent years. The more, the better! 

How Shift Defense Has Been Implemented?

This recent change in shift defense works as followed: if there is an out under the defensive alignment; that also violates the rules, would be marked. However, the game shall stand. Therefore, it is up to the hitting team to decide whether to accept the penalty or deny it. 

Player’s Opinion On Shift Defense

Players have different opinions about the new shift defense rule. While some are on board with the decision of MLB. You will find many who are still not familiar with this new trick. 

Jayson Stark, outfielder, New York Yankees criticized the new shift defense rule saying, “I get the defensive strategies. I do. I’m 100 percent not against that. But I think at some point, you have to fix the game a little bit.” 

David Robertson, New York Mets, pitcher also opinionated this new defense rule saying, “My biggest complaint about the shift is, how do you explain that to kids? What’s the point of having a shortstop if he can’t play shortstop?

Well! We have to accept it at some point! It’s a bit tough to describe. 

Bigger Bases

In this new addition, all the bases are increasing in size; they are increasing from 15 inches to 18 inches. 

Why Bases Are Bigger Now? 

The new 18 inches bases are meant to reduce collision between the players. They will have more space and can easily avoid getting into each other’s way. Plus, another hidden reason behind larger bases is to have more stolen base attempts.

The new bases reduce the distance from one base to another base by 4 and a half inches. Thus, increasing the possibility to have frequently stolen attempts. 

Opinion on Larger Bases 

Players have been asking for a larger base for some time now. With the new 18 inches base, there is more opportunity for stealing bases. Frequent attempts are sure to increase audience excitement. In short, players are happy with bigger bases as so are the attendants. 

These are the three major MLB rule changes in 2023. However, there have been a few more changes in the regular MLB season too. Such as, 

Pickoffs: Pitchers have now only two Pickoff attempts without penalty. 

Pitching Player’s Position: Baseball teams can now pitch a position player. However, they will become more limited than before. 

Impacts of MLB Rule Changes on Baseball

Talked about everything and took you on a tour of baseball rule changes. But what’s the impact of new rules on baseball tournaments? What plans Major League had and did they meet their goal? 

We have answers! Continue reading to find out yourself. 

Baseball has a name for being a routined game. But slowly, over time the game lost its charm and popularity.  

Statista Data showed that from the year 2015 to 2022, MLB lost more than 9 million of viewership. The regular season went down from 73.76 million to 64.49 million spectators. 

Many said fans are not patient! The game requires more knowledge! And, baseball is slow! 

While different factors were responsible for this decline, one of the notable statements was – MLB was less responsive and took only a few steps to revamp the game pace. Well, MLB decided to revise a few things! 

Rob Manfred, baseball commissional, said that “Our guiding star in thinking about changes to the game has always been our fans. What do our fans want to see on the field?’” He also said, “Fans want to see more of the athleticism of our great players,” while discussing the new rules in a press conference earlier this February 2023.

These new MLB rule changes were designed to get the audience back to the field with an engaging and thrilling on-field experience. In March 2023, the new baseball season started with these set rules since the opening day. 

Final Words

In 2023, MLB had some significant changes. Other changes in the past were made to improve the quality of the game. But from this season, rules were altered to attract more audience and bring them back to the field. 

However, different people have different opinions. Many still think MLB Rule Changes 2023 can influence the regular strategies and traditions of the game. But we also believe these changes are necessary to engage more fans and maintain the growth of baseball like before.

The 2023 season offers an opportunity for players, teams, and fans to embrace these adjustments and evaluate their influence on the game. 

Whether these changes enhance or alter the essence of baseball, one thing is certain: baseball will continue to evolve as it strives to captivate a diverse and ever-changing audience.

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John Means

John Means is a professional baseball player who has played in the major leagues for the Kansas City Royals and the Oakland Athletics. He made his major league debut with the Royals in 2009. He was traded to the Athletics in 2012. Baseball is his favorite sport. His passion about the game is evident in his play. Now he write blogs about baseball and other things whenever he has some free time. LinkedIn

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