Written by:Nicholas Sarysz
The Major League Baseball season and all of the new rule changes are now in full swing. Over the offseason, MLB commissioner, Robert D. Manfred, Jr., set out to make baseball more exciting by adjusting the rules to try and generate more offense. While the general MLB fan base had split feelings about the new rules, change is inevitable and Manfred has said that they are sticking with the rule changes moving forward.
The biggest change heading into this season is the addition of the pitch clock. Similar to the NBA’s shot clock, the pitcher will have a limited amount of time to execute his pitch. Specifically, they will have 15 seconds to start their windup if the bases are empty and 20 seconds if there are runners on. The MLB hopes that the change will lead to an increased pace of play that will entice a larger audience to watch games in their entirety.
On top of the pitch clock, the MLB also put a ban on the defensive shift. First used in the 1940s, the defensive shift places three infielders on one side of the field in order to defend against batters that typically pull the ball to their dominant-handed side.
The new ban requires there to be two infielders on each side of second base and does not allow infielders to be in the outfield grass until the ball is pitched.
The goal of the ban is to increase the batting average and put pull hitters at less of a disadvantage, hopefully leading to more offensive scoring and more explosive defensive plays.
The last big rule change put into effect this season is increased bases. With the exception of home plate, all of the bases will be increased by three square inches, going from 15 to 18 square inches. The main purpose of the increased base sizes is to help avoid injury for players sliding into bases — allowing for more room for the defender’s and runners’ feet to share the base. Another effect of increased base size is that we are likely going to see more stolen bases this season, especially since it will be easier to time pitches with the addition of a pitch clock.
All-in-all, it is too early to tell if the changes will have the long-term positive effects for baseball that Manfred Jr. is hoping for. What we do know is that the rules should continue to help bridge the gap between pitchers and hitters this year and hopefully that will bring in a new fanbase for the sport.
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