The Major League Baseball competition committee, comprised of six ownership-level representatives, four players and one umpire, approved new rules on Friday that will be implemented in the 2023 MLB season. The MLB rules include a pitch clock, banning defensive shift changes, and bigger bases.
Although these MLB rules were voted in favor by the majority, there were many upset at these changes, including the MLBPA, who announced that player representatives voted no on the shift and pitch-clock portions of changes. Here are the changes that will be going on next season and what to expect with them.
Banning Defensive Shifts
The MLB shift rule will now require at least four MLB defenders to have both feet in the dirt in the infield at the time of the pitch. There must also be two infielders to be entirely on either side of the second base; breaking either one of these rules will result in an automatic walk.
This is a pretty big change in terms of strategy for managers and players, specifically left-handed batters. This MLB rule can be replayed to determine if a MLB defensive player was out of position, and the team is able to decide if they want to take the play or a walk. This will surely be the most controversial one as baseball players will be forced to change their positioning right away with no easing into it. Expect frequent calls about this next season.
A pitch clock will be implemented next season that will hopefully speed up the game a bit. The rule will require pitchers to begin their motion within 15 seconds if there are empty bases, and 20 seconds with runners on base. The clock will start with 30 seconds between batters, as well as a 30-second time limit for mound visits. If a pitcher takes too long to begin his delivery, he’s charged with an automatic ball. Pitcher are still able to step off the bag and reset the clock, but they cannot step off more than twice per plate appearance.
This is a rule that has been established in the minor leagues for years, so players will likely be used to this. With one of the biggest criticisms being that baseball is too long for many people to hold their attention in the modern era, this rule may help the pace of the game, and allow for a more enjoyable watching experience.
The most straightforward change is the size of the bases will go from 15 inches to 18 inches. Bags will remain the same square shape. This rule has not seen nearly as much backlash as it is a rule that makes sense as it is attempting to prevent injuries. This, along with the pitch count, will likely result in much more basestealing.
The hope is with the bigger bags, there are fewer collisions going to bases. With player’s feet also getting bigger as time has went on, this also makes logical sense. This rule has been implemented in the minor leagues for years and has reduced injuries.