New Year, New Rules for the MLB

Time counter digital display

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Time counter digital display

Aaron E, Editor-In-Chief

The MLB, also known as Major League Baseball, is an exciting organization loved by millions of fans all around the world. Each year, the MLB makes changes to its rules to keep the game fresh and interesting. As people head into the 2023 MLB season, there are some new rule changes that baseball enthusiasts should know about. 

The most important addition to the professional game of baseball is what is known as the pitch clock. This rule is intended to keep the pace of the game moving and prevent pitchers from taking too much time between pitches. This new rule has a 15 second clock for the pitcher and batter. The batter must be in the batter’s box prior to the 8 second mark while the pitcher must pitch the ball before the time runs out. If the batter fails to comply with the rule, they will be awarded with a strike automatically. If the pitcher fails to pitch the ball before 15 seconds expires, a ball is awarded to the batter. Additionally, if there is a batter on base, the clock increases to 20 seconds, but the same rules still apply to both pitcher and batter. Some pitchers have voiced their displeasure with this rule as they feel it may disrupt their rhythm on the mound. However, others see it as a necessary change to speed up the game and keep fans engaged. Eighth grader Rohan says, “[the pitch clock] will…sell more tickets because people will have the time to stay for the duration of the game.” MLB games typically last for more than 3 hours, but with the addition to the pitch clock the games have hovered around a duration of 2 hours and 30 minutes.

In addition to the pitch clock, the pitcher can only step off the mound or pick off the runner 3 times during one at-bat. If the pitcher exceeds this limit, the batter is awarded a walk. The batter can only take 1 timeout during their respective at-bat. The size of each base also increases its area by 3 inches to encourage more steals. Players like Nico Hoerner have taken advantage of this and is currently leading the league in steals. This rule change also helps increase safety of the players by reducing base-running injuries.

The third and final rule that has been added is the change to the shift. The shift was where the players in the field would move to where the batter was most likely to hit the ball. For example, when a lefty batter is up to bat, the fielders would move to the left side of the field due to the likelihood of a ball being hit there. This new rule eliminates the shift because players were getting too extreme. Sometimes there would be all 4 infielders in between 3rd and 2nd base, which caused disruption among teams in the league. The new rule draws an imaginary line through the middle of the field. Each side must have 2 infielders on it, and they are not allowed to step on the outfield grass before a hit. 

In conclusion, the 2023 MLB season will bring some new rule changes that may impact the way the game is played. These changes are aimed at making the game more efficient, faster-paced, and exciting for fans. While some players, coaches, and fans may have differing opinions on these rule changes, it is clear that the MLB is constantly evolving to keep the sport fresh and enjoyable for everyone. Baseball enthusiasts should keep an eye out for these changes as they watch their favorite teams take the field in the 2023 MLB season!

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