MLB Two Months In – Checking In On the Rule Changes

MLB Two Months In - Checking In On the Rule Changes

Major League Baseball, nearly two months into the season, is continuing to evolve under its new substantial rule changes that have substantially altered how the games themselves operate and the pace of them.


The introduction of the pitch clock, aimed at speeding up games in hopes of retaining additional interest and viewership in games, has ultimately been successful in seeing faster conclusions. Throughout the entire league, the average length of an individual game is roughly thirty minutes down.


Several subsequent outcomes from the drastic pace-of-play have repeatedly “plagued”, or appeared in games however. Pitch clock violations, both on the batter and hitter, have caused plenty of controversy among the players themselves at the moment, and general fan reactions. There is consistent muddying of the rules for determining what was a violation or not, how it can be manipulated, how many timeouts are awarded to each player. The inconsistency in the enforcing of these rules have resulted in a multitude of ejections of managers, namely.

MLB evidently wanted more offense, as well, seen to be a culmination of two straight seasons of a dip in runs scored; the infamous, “dead ball”, was widely regarded as the leading cause of the sudden inability to score a sizable amount of runs at a constant pace. However, MLB opted to ban the shift and make life generally more difficult for pitchers, rather than change the baseballs used in-game. 


The ban of the shift essentially takes-away a prominent defensive strategy that teams used to limit particular batters – hitters that were more prone to hit the ball in a certain direction predominantly were shifted against to turn would-be hits into ground ball outs. Less-hits means less runners on base, and less runs. Debuted this season, the shift-ban enforces a defensive alignment that requires two infielders to be on either side of second base, on the dirt (can’t be in the outfield). Balls that are hit to the left of the second basemen that would have been easy outs last year are now frequently base hits for pull-heavy hitters. Balls that hit up the middle are now also finding their way into center field at an exceedingly high level. 


MLB has yielded successful results thus far: runs scored per game, combined between the two competing teams, is 9.1 this year, up from the 8.56 mark from 2022. “Watching games casually now is more entertaining because there’s more hits and general offense”, says Mckenna Crowder.


With the addition of a rule that limits pitcher-pickoff attempts to two per plate appearance, and the pitch clock itself, pitchers are seemingly being limited to how they are allowed to perform from one at-bat to another. League-wide ERA has jumped from 3.96 in 2022 to 4.28 in 2023. “The rules were meant to create more offense, but they left pitchers out to dry”, says Noah Lee, baseball player.