The MLB implemented some rule changes at the beginning of the 2023 season, and they have been met with mixed reviews. But for those of us who preferred for baseball to become more exciting, they are working like a charm.
The three biggest rule changes have all had adverse effects on the game so far.
MLB Rule Changes Have Added Excitement To The Game So Far
Here's an update on MLB's 2023 rule changes:
Pace of Play
Runs per game
Stolen Base Success Rate
So quicker games with more hits, runs, and stolen bases? Sign me up.
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) April 14, 2023
The most glaring change has come in the pace of play and the timing of games. One of the biggest complaints about the sport and its lack of growth were the long, drawn out contests that often ran into the 4-hour range. But the advent of the pitch clock has sped things up tremendously.
Through April 12th, the average MLB game is lasting 2 hours and 37 minutes, compared to the same sample size last season of 3 hours and 7 minutes. A full half-hour has been cut off of the game experience, mostly by eliminating unnecessary stoppages of play and penalizing players for delaying the game.
Another new rule is the banning of the defensive shift, keeping teams from loading up the infield against players with certain hitting tendencies. While it is unclear if it is a direct result of the adjustment, but both batting average and scoring are up so far this season. In 2022, the batting average through April 12th was .230 and the runs scored per game was 8. Those numbers are up to .250 and 9.4 in 2023.
Steal Numbers Are Up In A Big Way
Stolen base attempts per game:
2021 – 0.60
2022 – 0.68
2023 – 0.85
Successful steals per game:
2021 – 0.46
2022 – 0.51
2023 – 0.69
Check out more on the 2023 rule changes https://t.co/Ez0Ipa2GBd
— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) April 14, 2023
Another added wrinkle came to the base paths. The MLB changed the dimensions of the actual bases this year, increasing their size and minimizing the distance between the bags. The change only accounts for a couple of inches, but that is enough to entice teams to attempt more steals.
In 2022, there were 0.68 steal attempts per game and 0.51 successful ones. Those figures have increased to 0.85 and 0.69 so far this season.
Which teams are benefiting the most? The Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Guardians both have 19 steals each, with just 3 unsuccessful attempts between the two of them. Jorge Mateo of the Orioles leads the league with 7 stolen bags, and three other players are tied for second with 6.
There is still a long way to go and some kinks to work out of the system. There are players that are having a hard time adjusting to the new speed of the game, and the pitch clock has become a source of contention for some.
But if the goal of the MLB was to speed up the pace of the play and make the game more exciting for viewers, they have most certainly been successful.
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