MLB introduces new rules, increases popularity

Sports writer Aurora Stewart discusses the four new rules including the addition of a pitch clock and aim to make baseball a more entertaining sport.

This year’s baseball Opening Day was not just the beginning of the 2023 season, it was also the first time four new rules have been officially used in the major league.

The success of these rules in the minor leagues is what led them to be officially added last September. The four changes to the game include a first-ever pitch clock, the cut of the shift, larger bases and a limit on the amount of times a pitcher can disengage from the rubber.

The Pitch Clock:

The rule that has garnered the most interest from viewers is the addition of the pitch clock due to its impact on the length of the game.

The pitch clock means pitchers have 15 seconds to throw a pitch when the bases are empty and 20 seconds when a runner is on base. Hitters also need to be in the batter’s box with eight seconds on the pitch clock. If before the expiration of the clock a pitcher has not started “the motion to deliver a pitch,”he will be charged with a ball. A batter will be charged with a strike if he delays entering the box. The implementation of this rule is to help shorten the game, which has been consistently extending overtime. And despite the pushback from older players, younger players are mostly used to this rule anyways from their time in the minor leagues.

The reason for a pitch clock is not just to shorten the game, it is also to make it more entertaining. The rule specifically targets the time players used to spend essentially doing nothing. The hope is that this will eliminate the time a pitcher is just holding the ball and waiting, or the time a batter stands outside the batter’s box which can be upwards of 20-30 seconds. While it may not seem like much time, in the end it adds up.

The Shift Change:

The shift change will mean when a pitch is thrown, all four infielders must be on the infield dirt or grass with two on each side of second base. Players can move as soon as the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand. This will hopefully improve batting averages, which in 2022 was the lowest since 1968.


Disengagement from the rubber, or pickoffs, are also being limited. Pitchers are now allowed two disengagements per plate appearance without penalty. This rule is concerned with aesthetics of the game. In 2022, stolen bases per team were down to 0.51 per game from 0.66 a decade ago. Reduced pickoffs aim to make the game appear more exciting.

Base Size:

The league has also increased the size of bases from 15 inches to 18 inches. This is expected to both decrease injuries related to base usage, and increase stolen base attempts.

The change to the game interested baseball fans and the public so greatly that it led to record Opening Day MLB viewership. Minutes watched increased by 42% compared to last year.

Overall, while the full impact of these rules is yet to be understood, they so far have been successful in increasing the game’s popularity.

Post Author: Aurora Stewart