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Article: Pace of Play and the Twins

casey fien brian duensing glen perkins rob manfred caleb thielbar
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#1 Cody Christie

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 01:11 PM

Bud Selig is out as commissioner and Rob Manfred has a variety of issues to tackle as he takes over the reins of America's pastime.

One issue at the forefront is trying to find a way to speed up the pace of play for major league games. Last year the average MLB game lasted over three hours. This comes at a time of a steady decrease in run-scoring as baseball adjusts after the steroid spike around the turn of the century.Baseball wasn't meant to be this way. Recent years have seen an increase in the number of pitches batters are taking, pitching changes, mound visits and time between pitches. In just 10 years baseball players have added 29 minutes, 11 seconds of dead time per game while scoring 13.3 percent fewer runs. If that doesn't grab your attention, I don't know what will.

How do the Twins rate?
FanGraphs tracks "Pace," a pitcher's average time between pitches in seconds. Just four seasons ago, pitchers averaged 21.5 second between pitches. In 2014, only five Twins pitchers (Lester Oliveros, Michael Tonkin, Aaron Thompson, Caleb Thielbar, and Glen Perkins) were below this mark. Phil Hughes just missed the mark with an average of 21.7 seconds between pitches.

Top 3 Pace (minimum 20 IP)
1. Caleb Thielbar 21.0
2. Glen Perkins 21.0
3. Phil Hughes 21.7
Bottom 3 Pace (minimum 20 IP)
1. Kevin Correia 25.0
2. Brian Duensing 24.1
3. Casey Fien 23.9

Minnesota's four longest games this season were all extra-inning affairs with these contests averaging four hours and 42 minutes. The club's five fastest games were all under two hours and 30 minutes. The team even had one 10-inning game in Boston that was completed in just over two and a half hours.

Twins 3 Longest Games of 2014
1. May 1 vs LA Dodgers (12 innings) 5 hours 11 minutes
2. April 23 @ TB Rays (12 innings) 4 hours 48 minutes
3. September 5 vs LA Angels (10 innings) 4 hours 30 minutes
Twins 3 Shortest Games of 2014
1. May 17 vs Seattle Mariners 2 hours 26 minutes
2. August 27 @ KC Royals 2 hours 27 minutes
3. June 28 @ Texas Rangers 2 hours 27 minutes

Between 2000 and 2013, the Twins average time have nine inning games has increased from two hours and 56 minutes to three hours and one minute. During that stretch, the shortest average time was two hours and 37 minutes (2005). There were only two seasons during that stretch where Minnesota's average time was above the average time for MLB.

Finding Solutions
MLB is experimenting with a variety of solutions and the first few of these were rolled out in this year's Arizona Fall League. These included a pitch clock, batter's keeping one foot in the batter's box, no-pitch intentional walks, a 2:30 pitching change/inning change clock, and a three "time out" limit. There were mixed reviews but game times did decrease.

MLB's next experimental solution will take place at Double-A and Triple-A this season. The higher levels of the minor leagues will institute pitch clocks this year in an attempt to speed up games. Specifics haven't been ironed out yet but change is in the air.


If everything goes smoothly in the upper minors this season, it seems like the first major league move might be the institution of a pitch clock. This sweeping change might take a couple of seasons to make it to the big league level but it seems likely that one of the first changes under the Manfred regime will revolve around pace of play.

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#2 Jerr

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 01:44 PM

I'm old school and something needs to be done re: pace/time of the games. Way tooooo slooow. I lose interest and I understand all the arguments for letting it be as is, but, there is no reason that a batter steps out as much as they do to adjust equipment or the pitchers hem and haw as much as they do.

 

I'd rather see a no step out rule for batters and the pitcher must pitch when umpire is ready. Let the umpire count count "1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi etc." until he gets to "5 Mississippi" and call a ball.

 

Also stop all the visits to the mounds by limiting them to once per pitcher. They can talk in the dugout between innings ;)

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#3 Craig Arko

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 02:00 PM

I also like Jim Kaat's take on this:

http://jimkaat.mlblo.../odds-and-ends/
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#4 DAM DC Twins Fans

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 02:22 PM

I am also old school.I have been attending MLB games for almost 60 years.I am close to giving up on baseball.But last Sept. my son took me to a Nats game for my birthday (belated).It turned out to be a no-hitter by Jordan Zimmerman and a great game.

 

Bud Selig contributed to the destroying of the pace of the game by increasing the length of TV timeouts including calls to the pen.Back in the day--the manager came out and signaled to the pen and the pitcher jogged in and threw his 8-10 warmups.This was done in a minute.Now we take 2-3 minutes so we can show more ads while everybody on the field stands around.Between innings too. 

 

Back in the day--I would go to a afternoon doubleheader at Shea (I lived in Flushing) and I would walk home in time for 6PM dinner.That cant happen today.Cut the TV timeouts to 90 seconds between innings and 60 seconds for bullpen calls.That would save 20 minutes a game.Today the only games that take less than 3 hours are pitchers duels (with limited calls to the pen).Even pitchers duels in the post-season take over 3 hours.The only way for me to watch a game on TV is to DVR it and fast forward thru the ads--picking up a game about an hour after it starts and being almost live at the end.A pitch clock and limiting batter stepouts will help but wont solve the problem.

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#5 Eephus

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 02:30 PM

Something has to change. Very hard to watch an entire game, especially for kids. Pitch clock seems to make the most sense. An at bat is an event in a game, not a pitch. All you gotta do is watch a big game on Fox. Every pitch is treated like an event. They show you 5 or 6 different shots of fans, managers, pitchers, hitters, back to fans. Not blaming Fox, but they shouldn't have the time to do all this stuff between pitches!

 

Another way I look at this -- if a football team can run a play (with no huddles) in a matter of seconds then a pitcher and catcher should be able to do it. Hitters same thing.

 

I've watching baseball and listening on the radio for 40 years. This slowness has no purpose. It's actually kind of odd. Worst thing about baseball in my humble opinion.  


#6 brvama

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 02:33 PM

Thanks, CRArko for that great read. Totally agree with him.

#7 Boom Boom

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 04:07 PM

MLB needs to do away with the manager's challenge. It's not the replay process so much as the manager's stroll out on to the field to stall for time while the dugout reviews the video. Put in place an extra "video" umpire who signals the field crew that a play should be reviewed and take the managers out of the equation.

Also on the subject of managers strolling out to the field, is it really necessary to do so for every pitching change?

Edited by Boom Boom, 07 February 2015 - 04:10 PM.

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#8 jimmer

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 04:15 PM

MLB needs to do away with the manager's challenge. It's not the replay process so much as the manager's stroll out on to the field to stall for time while the dugout reviews the video. Put in place an extra "video" umpire who signals the field crew that a play should be reviewed and take the managers out of the equation.

Also on the subject of managers strolling out to the field, is it really necessary to do so for every pitching change?

I honestly don't know why people are so worried about game time. 


#9 Wookiee of the Year

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 05:56 PM

MLB needs to do away with the manager's challenge. It's not the replay process so much as the manager's stroll out on to the field to stall for time while the dugout reviews the video. Put in place an extra "video" umpire who signals the field crew that a play should be reviewed and take the managers out of the equation.

Also on the subject of managers strolling out to the field, is it really necessary to do so for every pitching change?

At TwinsFest, Terry Ryan said this season, managers will issue challenges from the top step of the dugout. That should at least do away with the long meander to buy time.


#10 tobi0040

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 07:48 PM

Our contribution could be cutting pelfrey
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#11 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 08:17 PM

I also like Jim Kaat's take on this:

http://jimkaat.mlblo.../odds-and-ends/

 

It feels good to know at least Kaat will advocate for common sense to the commissioner directly. 

It's a mere moment in a man's life between the All Star

Game and an old timer's game. - Vin Scully


#12 Eephus

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 08:28 PM

I honestly don't know why people are so worried about game time. 

Games have gotten longer by quite a bit.It takes a long time, especially if you go to the game. I think that's why.


#13 jimmer

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 09:47 PM

Games have gotten longer by quite a bit.It takes a long time, especially if you go to the game. I think that's why.

yeah, I read the other posts, and I've read a lot of things concerning the length of game and how that extra 15, 20 minutes is such a problem and how the new Commish wants to shorten it.

 

My point was, I have no issues with the game being longer.  If I'm at a game, I ESPECIALLY like that the game takes longer. I enjoy the experience.  But I'm not part of the ADD crowd or people who need to rush through things to get to other things. I can just sit back, relax, and take it all in.  I hate two hour baseball games though, especially if I paid to go.

Edited by jimmer, 07 February 2015 - 09:50 PM.

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#14 Old Twins Cap

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 09:51 PM

Certainly, whatever else gets done, this idea that a manager can walk out on the field and stand around until he gets a signal from the bench as to the validity of his challenge -- that's just idiotic and contrary to the notion of being a sporting event.

 

Either a manager challenges a call or he doesn't.He shouldn't get confirmation ahead of time from a camera angle.If the umpires have to call it in real time, then make the managers do the same.It just feels stupid to watch a manager scratch at the dirt and wait for the advantage of access to a camera.How does that help the sport?

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#15 jimmer

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 09:53 PM

Certainly, whatever else gets done, this idea that a manager can walk out on the field and stand around until he gets a signal from the bench as to the validity of his challenge -- that's just idiotic and contrary to the notion of being a sporting event.

 

Either a manager challenges a call or he doesn't.He shouldn't get confirmation ahead of time from a camera angle.If the umpires have to call it in real time, then make the managers do the same.It just feels stupid to watch a manager scratch at the dirt and wait for the advantage of access to a camera.How does that help the sport?

I agree with this 100%.


#16 wavedog

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 10:30 PM

I don't know if we need to speed up play as much as eliminate useless dead time. My 2 biggest annoyances: 1) Batters should not get to step out of the box and re-adjust after every pitch. 2) pitching changes - why should relievers get 8-10 warm up pitches? Maximum of 2 or none would be fine with me. Does a pinch-hitter get some warm-up batting practice? I don't think we should ever have a clock in baseball although I can see it as a trial in minors for a year to get a behavior change.
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#17 Boom Boom

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 11:47 PM

yeah, I read the other posts, and I've read a lot of things concerning the length of game and how that extra 15, 20 minutes is such a problem and how the new Commish wants to shorten it.
 
My point was, I have no issues with the game being longer.  If I'm at a game, I ESPECIALLY like that the game takes longer. I enjoy the experience.  But I'm not part of the ADD crowd or people who need to rush through things to get to other things. I can just sit back, relax, and take it all in.  I hate two hour baseball games though, especially if I paid to go.


In that case, you're not the type of fan that MLB is most concerned about. You'll probably watch regardless of how long the game goes.

This matter is more about new fans... kids who get bored watching a baseball game, or parents who decide not to take their kids to a weekday evening game because it very well might go past 11:00 p.m. and the kids need to be up for school in the morning.

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#18 TheLeviathan

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Posted 08 February 2015 - 07:51 AM

In that case, you're not the type of fan that MLB is most concerned about. You'll probably watch regardless of how long the game goes. This matter is more about new fans... kids who get bored watching a baseball game, or parents who decide not to take their kids to a weekday evening game because it very well might go past 11:00 p.m. and the kids need to be up for school in the morning.

 

Exactly, it's also about your extended fan base.  I live about an hour and a half away from the stadium and there have been times that 4 hour, obnoxiously played games have turned the trip into a marathon.  

Baseball has seen a flattening attendance and risks that trend going south if the game experience continues to go downhill.  It's also already struggling to attract talent to the game and it isn't helped when kids watch baseball on TV and watch a dude adjust his gloves for 6 minutes only to take ball 2 and repeat his glove adjusting and sign-taking.

 

You don't have to have ADD to think some of this stuff can be cut out.  I love 4 hours of good baseball, I don't like 2.5 hours of good baseball and an 1.5 of coaches kicking dirt, adjusting batting gloves, 17 pitcher changes, 460 throw overs to first, and The Pelfrey Effect.  Getting rid of that stuff will only enhance the actual baseball.


#19 Platoon

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Posted 08 February 2015 - 09:18 AM

Here's a question. If you deduct the extra commercial time,both between innings and pitching changes, and remove the 7th inning patriotic salute to America from the current length of games, what do we end up with? (Please don't tell me we should have time for the salute, I know that, this is only about the math). I am not sure when the inning breaks time was increased and to what level?

For the record, I am an "old schooler" or at least old something. And I do find the games too lengthly. TIVO solves some of the problem at home, but complicates participating in the TD game threads.
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#20 SockNet

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Posted 08 February 2015 - 09:57 AM

For 100 years warm up pitches, mound visits, and pick off attempts were not a problem. Now all of the sudden they are? This is a problem of MLBs making by trying to squeeze every lost dollar out of advertising by lengthening breaks for commercials and by adding between inning pomp and circumstance. Now they are trying to fix something they broke by changing the way the game is played so they can keep their dollars. 

 

If you have to do it by not shortening inning breaks, fine. I'd like to see how a pitch clock works with runners on base because I don't think it will. If a pitcher takes too long automatic ball. If a batter takes too long to get in the box, automatic strike. It shouldn't have to be that way but I guess it is. I think it will take out a lot of interplay between the pitcher, batter, and catcher that has always been there since forever without hampering pace.

 

This should be as easy as umpires controlling the game, keeping the pace moving and Joe Torre controlling his umpires. Organizations and managers may have to deal with player entitlement to do whatever the hell they want but umpires certainly do not. Sure Angel Hernandes will push the boundaries of what is reasonable but players and managers to that too. Just look at how long a replay takes. It's not the umpires who hold that process up. I think ultimately if umpires could stick to their guns and a slow pace starts costing balls and strikes and outs the players will get on board real fast.

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