Sports writer Sam Beatty discusses the three major new rules being incorporated into the upcoming MLB season and how they will change the overall game.
Spring training for the 2023 MLB season has just begun, and there are a few new rule changes that could have large impacts on the game this year.
The first of three new rule changes this year is the addition of a 15 second pitch clock. There are also reduced numbers of pick-offs a pitcher can do and the amount of times a batter can call time during an at-bat. This gives the pitcher and batter 15 seconds after a pitch to be ready for the next one. Pitchers who violate this rule will be charged with one ball added to the count and batters who violate this rule will be charged with one strike added to the count. This change has been made to speed up the average time of an MLB game, which was previously around three hours.
There have already been pitchers who have attempted to use this rule to their advantage, such as Max Scherzer (NYM). Scherzer would stand still until the batter called time, and then wait until the last possible seconds to pitch, so that he could throw the batter’s timing off. The rule also benefits pitchers who already worked quickly, such as Wandy Peralta (NYY) who was able to strike a batter out in 20 seconds.
The second major rule change in MLB 2023 is the ban of the infield shift. This means that there can only be two infielders on each side of second base. Previously, the shift would make hard hitting pull hitters have a difficult time scoring a hit to their pull side. Now, batters like Matt Olson (ATL) and Corey Seager (TEX) are projected to have career-highs this year at the plate, and batters like Cody Bellinger (CHC) and Joey Gallo (MIN) have an opportunity to return to their former highs.
The third change in MLB in 2023 is larger bases. The league has decided to increase the size of the bases from 15 square inches to 18 square inches. This effectively decreases the distance between each base by 4.5 inches. Base runners will now have a shorter path and larger bases to grab for. This, combined with the decrease in allowed pick-offs for pitchers, should amount to a huge increase in the amount of bases being stolen. Don’t be surprised if some of the elite base stealers such as Jon Berti (MIA), Jorge Mateo (BAL) and Cedric Mullins (BAL) all have career highs in stolen bases this year.
MLB has made all of these changes for the 2023 season and beyond to reinvigorate the attraction to the sport. Now, games will be shorter so people have to commit less of a day to a baseball game. There should also be an increase in overall action. With the shift banned and larger bases, there should be more hits, more runners on base, more bases stolen and more runs scored.