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New MLB Baseball Rules: A tutorial

Posted on April 11, 2023

You may have heard about some important new rules that were implemented this year for MLB.  These rule changes have inspired many conversations between fans at the stadiums and home.  To help you join the conversation here are the new rules and the impact of these rules on the game.

  1. Pitch timer: A pitch clock will enforce 30 seconds between batters, 15 seconds between pitches with bases empty and 20 seconds between pitches with runners on.
  2. Defensive shift limits: A minimum of four players must be on the infield with at least two on either side of second base.
  3. Bigger bases: First, second and third base have been expanded to 18 inches on each side.

The impact of these changes is that game times are down significantly. For example, on opening day, games took an average of 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete which is 26 minutes faster than the average game time last opening day.  According to MLB, the primary point of the defensive shift restrictions is to provide more traditional outcomes on balls in play. No more second basemen stationed in right field, in perfect position to scoop up a ground ball that, for roughly 100 years of baseball history, would have been a single. The defensive shift limits require a minimum of four players to be on the infield with at least two on either side of second base. According to MLB, the bigger bases could have the effect of reducing over-sliding in which a player loses contact with the bag while sliding through it. Another benefit of larger bases should be more infield hits. The larger base not only shortens the distance from home to first, it also shortens the distance that an infielder throws the ball. Given the ball can be thrown 2–3 times faster than the batter can run, that will give a slight advantage to the baserunner.

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