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Possible MLB Rule Changes: Universal DH? Roster size? Anti-tanking?

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Union are always searching for ways to improve the game. Under MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, one of the biggest focuses has been pace of play. How can baseball speed up their games and keep younger fans interested in the action on the field?

Some of the latest proposals by MLB and the MLBPA could help to alleviate some of the issues.
Image courtesy of © Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Three-batter minimum
This rule would result in a pitcher being required to pitch to a minimum of three batters upon entering a game. For teams, this could significantly reduce the number of pitching changes made by managers. It could also speed up games for team’s that like to change pitchers in the middle of an inning. During last year’s playoffs, the Brewers used left-handed pitcher Wade Miley for one batter before replacing him with right-handed pitcher Brandon Woodruff. This type of move wouldn’t be possible under this possible rule change.

Universal designated hitter
The MLBPA continues to push for a universal DH and they would like to have it in place for the 2019 season. That seems highly unlikely at this point. Offensive has been down across baseball so adding a DH in the National League could add some more offensive to the game. However, none of these teams have been preparing to add a DH to their roster. I believe this rule will happen at some point, but I don’t think it will be in place for the 2019 season.

20-second pitch clock
One of the rules proposed by MLB last year was the implementation of a 20-second pitch clock. Manfred could put this rule in to affect for the 2019 campaign. Pitch clocks have been used in the minor leagues, so some players have already started to be accustomed to having them as part of the game. I think the pitch clock is coming and it might be happening for the current season.

Mound visits
Another rule that MLB can implement this year is reducing the number of mound visits from six to five. In their most recent proposal, MLB would like to reduce mound visits from six to four in 2019. Then in 2020, they would like the number of mound visits to be reduced to three. This seems like a large jump over a two-year span and I think the MLBPA will try to slow this process down.

Roster size
MLB would also like to expand rosters to 26 players starting in 2020. Along with that, they would like to reduce September rosters from 40 to 28. Expanding rosters from 25 to 26 would create 30 more big-league jobs and allow teams to be strategic as to what type of player they would like to have on the roster. Do they want another arm in the bullpen? Do they want a power bat for the bench? I don’t like the idea of reducing September roster sizes. We already see teams manipulate service time without using September call-ups and this seems like another way for teams to do that.

Anti-tanking
One of the ideas the player’s union would like addressed is the idea of teams tanking over multiple years to get a higher draft pick. In recent memory, the Astros did this to acquire high picks over multiple years. From this, they have built a very strong roster. The union would like a team’s draft position to be lowered if the club fails to reach a certain number of wins across multiple seasons.

What rule changes would you like to see? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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141 Comments

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sweetmusicviola16
Feb 09 2019 11:20 AM

 

Leftovers go to minor league players, not owners.

Yes to this. One of the greatest wrongs in baseball is that minor leaguers are living in poverty to chase their dream. All the while ML players become multi millionaires and owners roll around in Billions.

 

With the travel schedules and the time dedicated to their team it isn't like these guys can go get another job to supplement their incomes either. Or even a part time job. Another 1k a month even wouldn't hurt the owners or MLB players.

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ashburyjohn
Feb 09 2019 11:45 AM

The problem is the mound visits and warm up. If you want to change the pitcher, inform the umpire and bring him in. No commercial breaks. No prolonged mound visit as they get ready. No warm ups on the mound. Play baseball.

Yeah, the second mound visit followed by the tapping of a left or right wrist is kabuki theater whose time has passed. "Which wrist will he motion toward, oh which wrist will he motion toward... oh wait, there's a lefty cleanup hitter in the on-deck circle, maybe I can guess."

I haven't read all the comments here, so maybe some of these ideas have already been offered up.

 

I would indeed make the DH universal.

 

However, I would make the DH more robust. I would make the position interchangeable just like any other position. In other words, the DH could become the 2B for defense later, and the 2B would become the DH, or a different player could become the DH. Or The DH becomes the 2B, the 2B becomes the 3B and the 3B becomes the DH. 

 

And then, because of that flexibility, I would leave the roster at 25. At least until after this is tested. I would not be opposed to 26 players eventually though.

 

Roster expansions in September do create some roster advantages, but the also ran teams do need to have an opportunity to test their younger players against stronger competition. What's the difference between that and that team fielding a whole team of rookies, because they traded off all the veterans they had at the trade deadline. Teams facing them after the selloff certainly have an advantage over the teams that faced them earlier definitely have an advantage. There is no real solution to this problem that works for all the teams. So leave it alone.

 

Mandating that a team use a pitcher for 3 batters is also a bad idea. Because now you have a team that may have the benefit of having a balance of LH and RH batters in their lineup having a competitive advantage over the other team that now cannot use their pitching staff to combat that. At the same time the hitting team is free to pinch hit against that pitcher without the pitching team being able to counter that. Again, it will make the games less competitve.

I think the better solutions are the ones that just try to take the wasted time out of the games, like not taking forever to make a pitching change. Like the idea of no additional warm up pitches on the mound. And figuring out how to get the pitcher in the game quicker. Make it mandatory to use a golf cart.

 

Tanking is a big issue over nothing. Tanking has been going on for years. Somebody has to be the low man on the totem pole. And while teams may not see a need to spend needless money when they have no real chance of competing, I don't think the plan is to just stick extra money in the pockets of the owners. I am sure those teams would much rather be competing and turning the turn stiles.

Why make a team that is clearly in a rebuild situation sign a couple of players that won't significantly help their situation anyway. Really? They are still not going to change the level of competition. Why not allow those teams to expedite their rebuild and return to competition. Is what Houston and San Diego and Atlanta and the Twins did really that bad? Or the Phillies? Maybe if the Yankees and Dodgers and Red Sox and Cubs and Nationals weren't still able to corner all the best players, there wouldn't be so many teams tanking.

Teams that are perennially in the middle of the pack because they were always trying to compete but can't get over the hump are also perennially boring. Teams like the recent Giants, White Sox, the Brewers for many years, the Mets, the Cinncinnati Reds, and so forth. They should have tanked or should have tanked earlier.

Personally, I would rather watch a team that is letting their young players play and develop than one with a bunch of washed up veterans trying to hang on just to force the owner to spend a little money. Wouldn't you?

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Nine of twelve
Feb 09 2019 01:56 PM

I haven't gotten through the whole thread yet as I type this, but I think another factor that affects game length and, to some extent, pace of play is that there are many, many more batters working the count in today's game. Batters are much more willing to take a pitch they know is a strike if they don't think they can do anything with it. I certainly do NOT advocate any changes to the rules to change this, BTW. It is just one of the ways in which the game has evolved.

    • Hosken Bombo Disco likes this
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LA VIkes Fan
Feb 09 2019 04:26 PM

To me, the best change that baseball could do to improve competitiveness would be to go to a salary cap and floor. Evryone spends within a reasonable amount of everyone else. Add a rsoter spot and limit rosters to 13 pitchers and you've given the mid level player more options. Good for the average player, maybe not so good for the high end guy. Catering to the high end, by the way, is one of the problems. The MLBPA has priorituzed high dollar contracts for the top end rather than job stability and jobs for the average to above average veteran guy. The NFl doesn't do that and guess who's more successful and compelling.

DH: Yes. A thousand times, yes.

 

3 batter minimum: No. A thousand times no. Let the more advantageous strategy dictate moves, not some arbitrary rule. If having pitchers pitch to one hitter proves to be good strategy, so be it. If the "LOOGY" proves over time to be poor strategically, in that it is too damaging to the rest of the pitching staff, and too limiting to the bench, it'll go away on it's own.

 

Time Clock: Yes. And enforce it ruthlessly.

 

28 Man Sept Roster: Yes. This seems like a lot more reasonable adaptation than the current "anyone on the 40 man" farce.

 

26 Man roster vs current 25: No. Reluctanly. On the surface, it sounds like a good idea. But I fear the primary effect will be to benefit the big money teams. They'll be spending millions on the best available option for the 26th man. The Twins (and others) will just take the MLB minimum out of the 25 man roster and use it to fund the 26th man. The Yankees will get Andrew McCutcheon. The Twins will get someone who would be in Rochester.

 

 

    • Mike Sixel, TheLeviathan, spycake and 1 other like this
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TheLeviathan
Feb 11 2019 01:07 PM

 

 

26 Man roster vs current 25: No. Reluctanly. On the surface, it sounds like a good idea. But I fear the primary effect will be to benefit the big money teams. They'll be spending millions on the best available option for the 26th man. The Twins (and others) will just take the MLB minimum out of the 25 man roster and use it to fund the 26th man. The Yankees will get Andrew McCutcheon. The Twins will get someone who would be in Rochester.

 

This might be a great argument for the salary cap as well.  

    • USAFChief likes this

This might be a great argument for the salary cap as well.


I hate a cap, as you can imagine. All the money just goes to billionaire owners, instead of players. It's not like they will drop prices...
    • Twins33 likes this
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TheLeviathan
Feb 11 2019 01:17 PM

 

I hate a cap, as you can imagine. All the money just goes to billionaire owners, instead of players. It's not like they will drop prices...

 

Well, I'd prefer to see MLB start sharing all revenues and make a large cap number, but it is probably a pipe dream.  

 

I don't want to see billionaires make out on all the fan's money, but I also hate the fact that the Dodgers or Yankees can pump tens (hundreds) of millions of dollars more into their product than we can.That advantage is beyond just the 25 man roster, it extends up and down the organizational process of developing talent.

    • USAFChief likes this

Well, I'd prefer to see MLB start sharing all revenues and make a large cap number, but it is probably a pipe dream.

I don't want to see billionaires make out on all the fan's money, but I also hate the fact that the Dodgers or Yankees can pump tens (hundreds) of millions of dollars more into their product than we can. That advantage is beyond just the 25 man roster, it extends up and down the organizational process of developing talent.

The fix, as you say, is to truly share revenue. But I don't see that happening either. I'm all for inequality if it means players get more.
    • TheLeviathan likes this

 

I hate a cap, as you can imagine. All the money just goes to billionaire owners, instead of players. It's not like they will drop prices...

Well, not "all" the money would go to the owners, any more than it does now.

 

And for the sake of a more even playing field, I could care less if a few more dollars end up with owners. Players will still be rich.

The fix, as you say, is to truly share revenue. But I don't see that happening either. I'm all for inequality if it means players get more.


I'm okay with a cap as long as it increases at a similar percentage revenue does year over year. The salary floor is more important to implement so we can put an end to $45 million payrolls (looking at you, Florida teams)

Better revenue sharing should be a requirement too... Otherwise this league will continue to be a have vs. have not situation.
    • TheLeviathan likes this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Feb 11 2019 05:15 PM

 

I haven't gotten through the whole thread yet as I type this, but I think another factor that affects game length and, to some extent, pace of play is that there are many, many more batters working the count in today's game. Batters are much more willing to take a pitch they know is a strike if they don't think they can do anything with it. I certainly do NOT advocate any changes to the rules to change this, BTW. It is just one of the ways in which the game has evolved.

 

I'm piggybacking on this comment. I think batters are just better than they used to be. Maybe pitchers don't throw many more pitches in a game than yesteryear (I don't have any data at my fingertips) but I think the game is just better, and a little more thought needs to go into those pitches. An extra few seconds for each pitch doesn't hurt an at-bat, but it sure adds up by the end of the game.  

 

I think the best way to speed up the game is to empower younger umpires to keep the game moving, and consider that when promoting them through the levels. Younger players will be accustomed to a slightly faster pace as they themselves are promoted. Nothing like an umpire pointing at the pitcher to get the batter's attention (or vise versa). I think it's already in the rule book that a ball or strike can be called for delay of game.

 

That's to say nothing of when runners are on base. I am against any rule limiting throws to first, and I'm not sure how you would prohibit a pitcher from stepping off the rubber and resetting, which slows the game down.

 

All that said, the pitch clock isn't really the eyesore I was afraid it would be, so that can stay. 

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TheLeviathan
Feb 11 2019 06:25 PM

 

I'm okay with a cap as long as it increases at a similar percentage revenue does year over year. The salary floor is more important to implement so we can put an end to $45 million payrolls (looking at you, Florida teams)

Better revenue sharing should be a requirement too... Otherwise this league will continue to be a have vs. have not situation.

 

Absolutely has to be tied to revenue, for sure.And a cap floor as well.

 

But something has to be done about the spending disparity.The argument is that any given year small market teams succeed, but over the long haul it's a massive advantage to a few markets.

A couple more points to add. On tanking, let's look at last year as a perfect example. The 2 worst records in baseball were the Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals.

 

Yet both of those teams definitely started their seasons fully intending to compete. The Orioles signed a few high dollar free agents and held on to Machado and a few others that they could have gotten bigger trade haul from before the season. Kansas City brought back Moustakis and Escobar, and held on to Duffy. They tried. Now you want to take away their high draft picks?

 

And then, nobody tried to tank more than Miami but they will pick fourth. So you want to put them in a draft lottery and give them a chance at number one anyway. I say leave it alone. Trying to play God with rules only makes things worse.

 

As far as this thing about the players deserving bigger paychecks just because of higher revenues, I say foul. That's just a ploy that agents use to fill their pockets. How come we don't despise Scott Boras for his billions as much as we do the owners for theirs.

 

It would be far more fair to distribute that extra revenue to the people working in the office, scouts traveling the country, ticket takers, hot dog vendors, yes to more for minor leaguers, the trainers, minor league coaches. 

 

Why don't we take the players salaries above a certain amount and redistribute that to all those people. Then we will find out what the players' version of fair really is, won't we?

 

Just food for thought.

    • USAFChief likes this
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jorgenswest
Yesterday, 03:06 PM

On the 3 batter minimum...

 

I have been trying to find a game from last season stuck in my memory for being killed by pitcher changes the last 3 innings. 

 

June 3: Cleveland at Minnesota.

 

Twins are losing 4-3 as we enter the bottom of the 7th.

 

Starter Mike Clevenger faced 1 batter. 

Tyler Olson faced one batter

Neil Ramirez faced one batter

Oliver Perez cam in and finished the inning

 

The Twins took the lead 5-4 for anyone who somehow kept following the game through all of the stoppages. The Indians had two other pitchers this game that faced 2 or fewer batters. The Twins had one. Four other relievers were used in the game. 

 

Nine relievers. 25 batters faced. 16 outs. Killed the flow of the game. 

 

While this game had 5 occurrences of a pitcher facing two or fewer batters, it wasn't the most. It might be typical of a close game that otherwise should be the kind of game that brings people to the ballpark. Last year I found 2293 occurrences of a pitcher facing two or less batters. In 1988 there were 1006.

 

Baseball can help here. 

 

  • Make it a 3 batter minimum or
  • Allow only 1 mid inning pitcher change per inning or
  • No more coach mounds visits of any kind or
  • No warms on mound for relievers.

 

They have options. The very best games of the year are being killed by constant interruptions from the 7th inning on. Do something.

 


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