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Who Benefits Most from Baseball’s New Rules?


Ted Schwerzler
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Last week, Major League Baseball unveiled three new rules that will take effect for the 2023 season. The group includes a pitch clock, bigger bases, and banning of a traditional shift. While everyone is set to play under them, which Twins benefit from each one the most?

 

Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

 

As has been the case with virtually any new idea Major League Baseball has come up with, the minor leagues have served as a training ground. That means many of these new rules have already been practiced at some level by prospects that would hope to come through the system Now being implemented at the highest level, big leaguers will have their first exposure to them. When looking at each individually, it may be worth breaking down who is helped most by each new rule.

Pitch Clock
When runners are on base pitchers will have 20 seconds to deliver a pitch, and they’ll have just 15 seconds to do so when the bases are unoccupied. I have seen this firsthand plenty throughout St. Paul Saints' action this season. It seems to be integrated seamlessly and works well.

There’s no doubt that pitchers will benefit most from the pitch clock. Yes, there has been pushback in regard to routines and timing, but for the most part, the arms have adapted. Specifically, pitchers without much of a Major League track record, or those that work quickly, will benefit from the change. It was widely apparent how quickly Minnesota Twins starter Louie Varland worked against the Yankees last week, and you’ll see plenty more of that from guys who come up off the farm.

With batters only being allowed one timeout per plate appearance, there should be a substantial cut down on the ticks that emanate in the form of bat taps, adjusted batting gloves, and walks around the dish. Largely, the suggestion is now to get in the box and stay there.

While stealing hasn’t been largely impacted at the minor league level with a set time to deliver a pitch, it’s not maybe more important than ever for pitchers to change up their looks. Minnesota has done a terrible controlling the running game, and while neither Gary Sanchez or Ryan Jeffers throw many base stealers out, their pitchers have to help them as well.

Bigger Bases
Going from 15” to 18” bases isn’t all of a sudden going to increase the running games. Steals haven’t spiked with bases being larger, but the amount of bang-bang plays directly correlates. There’s also the opportunity for slightly more real estate when two players are rushing to the same base. Plays at first base should have a bit more room for the runner to step through and keep pitchers or other fielders covering a bit safer.

The bases being larger is something that fans and players won’t likely realize at all, but there will be multiple instances of different calls or spared injury that could be directly attributed to the change. Byron Buxton probably won’t start stealing 30 bases per year with the new size, but Billy Hamilton would’ve been safe at third base on his steal attempt. Oh, and while we’re here, home plate is not changing and Whit Merrifield was still out.

Shift Restriction
This change may have the greatest impact on players and the game itself. Teams will still find ways to shift, but now two infielders must be on each side of second base, and all four have to be touching the dirt when the pitcher is on the rubber. No longer will a defender be able to play a short outfield spot, and there won’t be an entire position on the infield unmanned.

Joey Gallo is the first name that comes to mind across baseball, but for the Twins, this could actually make Max Kepler good again. He’s been awful about hitting into the shift for most of his career, and the problem is largely attributed to his launch angle. Opting for ground balls and low liners, he’s been easy to steal hits from. Ground balls still probably won’t find their way through, but being able to dump the ball into short right field may be of benefit.

Ultimately, I’d expect teams to get creative with their outfielders when it comes to shifting. We may see three play on one half of the grass, and that’s probably how extreme-pull hitters are attacked.

What rule are you most in favor of? Are there any you have concerns about?

 

 


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I know everybody hates Gary Sanchez because he had the audacity to not be an MVP while stealing plate appearances from uber elite dreamy Ryan Jeffers... but Sanchez is at 32% caught stealing this year vs. MLB average 25%. He's above average in pop time and throwing strength and his throws are on target. Sanchez is a bit above average for his career as well. He throws out quite a few base runners.

That aside, I like the pitch clock the most. It's so desperately needed at this point. Picking up the base at MLB games will make them a lot more fun to watch and attend.

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I'm all for speeding up the game and making the game safer. Although I believe adaption is the name of the game, so technically the no shift rule, I'd be against it. With a terrific SS we don't need to put on this extreme shift and more times than not it hurts us. So this rule could help us to stop trying to be cute and play honest defense will help us densively besides Kepler.

I'm still sad they didn't put in place the robo umps, allowing for a fairer game play.

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While I would love to see a "designated runner" rule to make the game more exciting, I could never understand why many batters could never learn to hit to the opposite way or even bunt for a hit when almost nobody is on the other side of the diamond. I like the pitch clock for speeding up the game. It's the only thing that will do it. I like the larger bases to make it a bit more safe (though I'll bet Pete Rose would call all players chicken) but wonder if it will still be 90 feet between all bases. I do not like taking the strategy of the game away so am against removing the shift rule. The game is all about strategy and if a player or team cannot adapt to the other team's strategy that's too bad (IMHO). Next they won't allow pitchers to pitch outside to a batter (just kidding). I also wonder how they will enforce the rule that limits the number of pickoff attempts by a pitcher. Does that give the runner an almost automatic steal (I admit I haven't read the full details) or is the runner limited in the lead he can then take after the pitcher reaches his limit? I think that rule won't last. 

As most have said, the rule eliminating shifts will help those batters who are dead pull hitters but can't hit 50+ home runs a season. But I don't expect Kepler to hit much over .250 anyway.

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Forgot this. As far as robo umps, several are robo anyway (ooops, I mean bozos). Actually, since I have umpired several games (thankfully never with instant replays), I am all for the umps who are just human beings who make mistakes and have bad days. But even though they are evaluated often, they rarely lose their jobs or are demoted back to the minors.

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The pitch clock is for the fans in my opinion.  Speed up the game and have more action will be entertaining.  Years ago they tried to punish hitter for stepping out of box, that last for like 1 week.  Now if the hitter steps out, and does not get back in quickly enough he gets a strike.  The rule actually ended game in the minors once.  I know many players will moan about it but will adjust.

The base sizes has had minimal impact on stolen bases, but I doubt it will make huge difference.  In terms of the shift I was against the rule, but they did not make it to extreme as infielders will still have plenty of chances to move about the infield.  You will still see the SS behind the mound right next to 2nd base against most lefties, and the 3rd baseman will be shifted much more up the middle.  You just will not see the 2nd baseman sitting in short right. 

In regards to the robo umps commentors brough up.  I am 100 percent for it.  It will happen once the league feels they have a good enough tech.  They have been testing it, and there have been a few pitches people were freaking out about because it did not look close to a strike because of how crossed zone, but was called strike.  This again, the more it is used in minors, like the pitch clock, will make it easier for players to accept.  I am not for "human error" being part of the game.  If we were fine with human error why even grade ups on calls then or have replay, just get rid of all of it and let the human error make the calls, and when you have an ump call a ball that is 3 feet fair foul, or a guy that is out by a foot be called safe then people should not complain and chalk it up to human error. 

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The pitch clock as a whole is not a bad addition. Watching a batter step out, look at the sky, touch his bat, adjust his gloves, and so on after each pitch is painful. The only bad addition is limiting the number of throws to first base. After a pitcher throws over his max pickoff attempts, it is a guaranteed stolen base. Bigger lead because the runner knows nothing can be done.

Bigger bases probably won't be noticeable, but I question how much it will really help safety of players. Maybe if they had only increased the size of first base but the rest is questionable.

No shift is a joke in today's game. I hate the shift but the requirement is 9 men in the field. If I want to put all 9 in left field I should be allowed to. The problem for me is the players (professionals!) who can't hit into the open space to save their souls. What happened to controlling the bat to move a runner up? What happened to just getting on base. If the opposing team is giving you free base runners, take it. It drives me crazy!

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I agree with the first post...the fans are the winners hands down. I have watched these rules in Rochester and I love them. Hasn't hurt the game one bit.  I think the new rules also cover the '3 step offs allowed per batter' which also included, at least at AAA, throws to 1st. I hope that one makes it thru because there aren't too many more boring plays in baseball than a pitcher throwing over to 1st to stop a base stealer who has probably not stolen a base since Lincoln was president.

I hope there are more stolen bases. That has been the case this year at AAA. Not an extraordinary number but enough to move the needle. Hitters have not adapted to ;going the other way' to beat the shift. I think that ship sailed long ago. With pitchers throwing 100 MPH it is a lot tougher to control where the ball goes, and to bunt for that matter. I hate the shift. I'll be glad to see it go.

Pitch clock--absolutely. Everyone benefits. Players aren't back on their heels while the pitcher dances around and fusses and noodles about before throwing.  They are paid to pitch, not become actors and showmen.

I still wonder about the ghost runner. Managers are so worried about their pitchers being overused. Extra inning games rarely go more than 1 or 2 innings now. Won't be  used in post season of course...but for regular season, I can live with it. Its a huge gimmick, but oddly it has accomplished excactly what they wanted. Who knew??

Now limit the # of warmup pitches a reliever takes when entering the game...cap it at 4 and you will see an even snappier game progress.

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One unexpected beneficiary of a pitch clock is the catcher. Less time sitting in a squat means fresher legs in September. Don't believe me? Next time while you're watching a game try squatting as much as your home team's catcher. By the time the 8th inning rolls around you'll wish the game was over.

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I disagree with the notion that Byron Buxton SHOULDN'T be stealing 30-bases a year.  With the larger bases he SHOULD be stealing 40 !! 

Rocco is hopeless when it comes to SB's.  No team has attempted fewer than the Twins, and guys like Buxton, Gordon and Kepler should certainly be running more.  I don't think Rocco and his staff coach it at all.  They think we'll hit 300+ HR's every year.  I swear, that first managerial year record ruined Rocco as a manager.

The fans are certainly the big winners.  The game should be more entertaining.  

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@Loops @twinfan , my understanding is that a pitcher CAN throw over after reaching the max. It’s just a balk if he doesn’t pick the runner off. 
 

So…, while I’m guessing that the lead stretches out a little after the pitcher reaches the max, it’s not like the runner can suddenly take a 15-foot lead, since they’d likely get picked off. I’ve not seen how it has played out in the minors where it’s been experimented with, but I think that’s the intent on how it’s supposed to work. 

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So I think Dick Bremer just said they were moving second base in as well -- did I hear that right, and if so, is he right? I heard they tried this last year in the minors, putting second base inside the diamond, the way first and third are, but didn't think this was part of the changes for the majors. 

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I'll be glad to see the shift go.  But I'm sure we will see some legal variation of it.  The shift this year gives the appearance of defenses used in slow pitch softball.  The baseball field has become an on field video game.  Disgraceful!!  As for players taking advantage of hitting into the open shift at will, come on get serious.  Pitchers are routinely throwing near and over 100 mph. Making it near impossible to "place" hits and bunts wherever they want.  It's just too bad that after decades of thriving baseball attendance and ratings that MLB has had to make major rule changes that although well intended, are slowly destroying the game.

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19 hours ago, twinfan said:

While I would love to see a "designated runner" rule to make the game more exciting, I could never understand why many batters could never learn to hit to the opposite way or even bunt for a hit when almost nobody is on the other side of the diamond. I like the pitch clock for speeding up the game. It's the only thing that will do it. I like the larger bases to make it a bit more safe (though I'll bet Pete Rose would call all players chicken) but wonder if it will still be 90 feet between all bases. I do not like taking the strategy of the game away so am against removing the shift rule. The game is all about strategy and if a player or team cannot adapt to the other team's strategy that's too bad (IMHO). Next they won't allow pitchers to pitch outside to a batter (just kidding). I also wonder how they will enforce the rule that limits the number of pickoff attempts by a pitcher. Does that give the runner an almost automatic steal (I admit I haven't read the full details) or is the runner limited in the lead he can then take after the pitcher reaches his limit? I think that rule won't last. 

As most have said, the rule eliminating shifts will help those batters who are dead pull hitters but can't hit 50+ home runs a season. But I don't expect Kepler to hit much over .250 anyway.

No there will no longer be the same distance between bases. The rule about throw overs is the one that I don't like. Only allowed 2 throw overs? I won't be a bit surprised if that doesn't get modified after the 1st year.

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19 hours ago, insagt1 said:

I agree with the first post...the fans are the winners hands down. I have watched these rules in Rochester and I love them. Hasn't hurt the game one bit.  I think the new rules also cover the '3 step offs allowed per batter' which also included, at least at AAA, throws to 1st. I hope that one makes it thru because there aren't too many more boring plays in baseball than a pitcher throwing over to 1st to stop a base stealer who has probably not stolen a base since Lincoln was president.

I hope there are more stolen bases. That has been the case this year at AAA. Not an extraordinary number but enough to move the needle. Hitters have not adapted to ;going the other way' to beat the shift. I think that ship sailed long ago. With pitchers throwing 100 MPH it is a lot tougher to control where the ball goes, and to bunt for that matter. I hate the shift. I'll be glad to see it go.

Pitch clock--absolutely. Everyone benefits. Players aren't back on their heels while the pitcher dances around and fusses and noodles about before throwing.  They are paid to pitch, not become actors and showmen.

I still wonder about the ghost runner. Managers are so worried about their pitchers being overused. Extra inning games rarely go more than 1 or 2 innings now. Won't be  used in post season of course...but for regular season, I can live with it. Its a huge gimmick, but oddly it has accomplished excactly what they wanted. Who knew??

Now limit the # of warmup pitches a reliever takes when entering the game...cap it at 4 and you will see an even snappier game progress.

I hate the ghost runner rule. IMO if they use it all it shouldn't be before the 12th inning.

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12 hours ago, IndianaTwin said:

@Loops @twinfan , my understanding is that a pitcher CAN throw over after reaching the max. It’s just a balk if he doesn’t pick the runner off. 
 

So…, while I’m guessing that the lead stretches out a little after the pitcher reaches the max, it’s not like the runner can suddenly take a 15-foot lead, since they’d likely get picked off. I’ve not seen how it has played out in the minors where it’s been experimented with, but I think that’s the intent on how it’s supposed to work. 

That is correct, after the 2 disengagements with a runner on, the 3rd must result in a runner being out else, it is a balk.  I have not read much on the impact in the minors, but they have been dealing with the rule for a couple years now, so not new.  I could see some strategy being used with the pitch clock and the throw overs.  Wait until the last second and throw over hoping to get a guy leaning, or after 2 throws over, doing more pitch outs expecting runner to take off on first movement, assuming it will not be a throw over.  

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14 hours ago, TopGunn#22 said:

I disagree with the notion that Byron Buxton SHOULDN'T be stealing 30-bases a year.  With the larger bases he SHOULD be stealing 40 !! 

Rocco is hopeless when it comes to SB's.  No team has attempted fewer than the Twins, and guys like Buxton, Gordon and Kepler should certainly be running more.  I don't think Rocco and his staff coach it at all.  They think we'll hit 300+ HR's every year.  I swear, that first managerial year record ruined Rocco as a manager.

The fans are certainly the big winners.  The game should be more entertaining.  

Buxton doesn't have a plate approach to get on base enough to steal 20 bags a year, let alone 40. He's a low obp guy who is more likely to hit a homer or double than a single, so few opportunities to steal. His high slug approach is still extremely valuable though!

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12 hours ago, dex8425 said:

Buxton doesn't have a plate approach to get on base enough to steal 20 bags a year, let alone 40. He's a low obp guy who is more likely to hit a homer or double than a single, so few opportunities to steal. His high slug approach is still extremely valuable though!

Correct. One thinks he’ll have lots of steals because of his speed. But that’s not the case, since he has so much power. Teams play him deep, so not as many balls will get through the gaps. And then, because they are playing him deep, his bloop singles turn into doubles.

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On 9/16/2022 at 10:47 AM, AaronRendahl said:

So I think Dick Bremer just said they were moving second base in as well -- did I hear that right, and if so, is he right? I heard they tried this last year in the minors, putting second base inside the diamond, the way first and third are, but didn't think this was part of the changes for the majors. 

You did hear that right.  It means the distance between first and second, and between second and third, is now 89 feet.

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When runners are on base pitchers will have 20 seconds to deliver a pitch, and they’ll have just 15 seconds to do so when the bases are unoccupied. I have seen this firsthand plenty throughout St. Paul Saints' action this season. It seems to be integrated seamlessly and works well.

It appears that the new clock is supposed to start immediately when the pitch is delivered, correct?  This works fine for strike and ball results.  Is it completely clear when the clock is supposed to start after a ball is put in play, or in cases of a wild pitch/passed ball with runners on base? Does the timekeeper start the new clock after the umpire calls time?  What happens to a batter who gets on base but can't get elbow and shin guards off, or oven mitt on, in time?

Perhaps a friend can point to a published process for how this is working in the minors.  Not getting good hits hits for, "When does the pitch clock start?" 

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If banning shifts results in more hitting that means more action.  If more action increases game times (or doesn't reduce game time as much) I don't see a down side.  Just a better product.  I do, however, agree that guys just need to learn to hit the ball where other guys ain't.

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On 9/15/2022 at 7:11 PM, TopGunn#22 said:

I disagree with the notion that Byron Buxton SHOULDN'T be stealing 30-bases a year.  With the larger bases he SHOULD be stealing 40 !! 

Rocco is hopeless when it comes to SB's.  No team has attempted fewer than the Twins, and guys like Buxton, Gordon and Kepler should certainly be running more.  I don't think Rocco and his staff coach it at all.  They think we'll hit 300+ HR's every year.  I swear, that first managerial year record ruined Rocco as a manager.

The fans are certainly the big winners.  The game should be more entertaining.  

Your post ToppGun made me think that maybe the attitude of holding back especially on the base paths has trickled down to the team. That the whole team is holding back, afraid of giving their all, that extra that's needed to win games. Therefore finding ourselves many times on the short end of the stick. There has to be a fair medium of not being wreckless & giving your all.

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