Baseball will look different with new rules in place
|Tuesday, January 31, 2023, 1:00 PM- -|
The MLB has had several modifications to the game’s rules over the course of the last couple of years. While we will break some of those down, there are a decent amount of changes coming for the 2023 season that will make the game look much different for this year and beyond.
In 2020 there were a plethora of new rules, some of which to speed up the games and protect players due to a shortage of schedule from the COVID-19 Pandemic. Those rules include extra-inning games having a ghost runner on second base to begin innings automatically. Double headers would still be played, but both games of the doubleheader would be only seven innings. The postseason had 16 teams in them and the league adopted the universal DH. The 2020 season was delayed, of course, because of the pandemic, but financially there were numerous debates. Prorated salaries and service time disagreements were among the fiscal elements that caused for examination.
Then in 2021, the game returned back to some normalcy post-pandemic rules, which included the postseason going back to 10 teams, the DH remaining in just the AL — but the runner on second base in the extra-innings and the double headers stayed at seven innings.
Then after 2021, there was a 100-day MLB lockout due to the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement. So, just to get back on the field in 2022, negotiations had to occur. This coming after a delayed season in 2020 made some already disgruntled baseball fans even more upset — and in my opinion, the health of the sport had been dwindling in a major way since the pandemic. So while there were economic elements and rule changes to discuss, improving the watchability and the fan experience was a major component of these discussions; it had to be.
So after the players union and the MLB owners came to an agreement, there were numerous differences.
Some of the financial segments have inflated, which has been the case with the entire country. The league minimum salary has grown, the competitive balance threshold is higher, the luxury tax threshold is high as well, and the teams now have more money to spend in the international free-agent bonus pool. In addition, changes to service time allotments and the introduction of a draft lottery were implemented to discourage tanking, which has unfortunately become a frequent plan in the modern league. Then on the field, there were some changes as well: the playoffs were officially expanded to 12 teams, with the top seed getting a BYE, and the DH is universal. Plus, the committee voted to implement some rule changes come 2023.
For starters, every team will play every team, as there will be a more balanced schedule which will allow fans in all cities to see to league’s best players.
We’re just a few weeks away from Spring Training which is where we’ll first see these rule changes back in action, but there are some rules that will make the game look very different than in years past.
For starters, the defensive shift is banned. While in the past, you have seen an infielder in short right field and three players to the right side of second base for a power-hitting lefty, now, all infielders will be required to keep their cleats on the infield dirt, and each team will need to have two infielders on each side of second base. This will increase action, give the game more base hits and force infielders to show off their athleticism more.
Plus, the MLB is introducing a pitch clock to continue to help speed up the game. The MLB already adopted the three-batter minimum to avoid numerous pitching changes per innings to play analytical matchup advantages, but this pitch lock will speed up at-bats and thus have less dead time before action.
Finally, the MLB bases will be larger than before — which will avoid some injuries sliding near the bases — make bang/bang plays easier to decide upon, create more hits and allow a better opportunity to steal bases.
The game will look a little bit different in 2023, but the rule changes have been put in place with the greater good of the sport in mind.