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New Changes Come For The MLB’s 2023 Season

Major League Baseball will make significant rule changes to the game following the end of the 2022 season. The Joint Competition Committee voted to change several rules to improve the pace of the plays, action, and game safety. These changes include introducing a pitch clock, a pickoff limit, defensive shift restrictions, and new base sizes. These shifts hope to make the game safer and move along quicker.


These rules were put into place last season in the Minor Leagues. According to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, the new rules have each been tested in approximately eight thousand minor league games. 


The average length of games has increased dramatically over the last fifteen years, reaching an average of three hours. The average length increased even more, reaching its peak in 2021 at three hours and eleven minutes. The game time has stayed above three hours since 2012.


Implementing these rules in the Minor Leagues showed that they worked on reducing the game's length. These rules shortened the Minor League game average from three hours and three minutes to two hours and thirty-eight minutes, an astounding decrease of twenty-five minutes. 


The pitch clock intends to shorten the game's length as it has been dragged out over the years. The pitch clock implementation will include a fifteen-second timer between pitchers with empty bases, a twenty-second clock when there are runners on base, and a thirty-second timer between batters. Last season a version of this pitch clock was implemented in the minor league and succeeded in quickening games. 


Adding on to the pitch clock is the pickoff limit. This new rule makes it so pitchers won't be allowed to throw to a base as often as they want to. There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or step-offs. If the pitcher throws at the base a third time for a pickoff attempt and fails, the runner advances one base. This rule is intended to speed up the game and increase stolen base attempts. 


Starting next season, the defensive team must have at least four players on the infield and at least two infielders entirely on either side of the second base. This is the MLB's new defensive shift restriction. The rule only partially eliminates the infield shift. There will still be an infielder in the middle to the left of the second base. This rule will create more offense and put gaps in the defense. 


The change in base size is significant. The bases will be enlarged from a fifteen-inch square to an eighteen-inch square. The home plate will remain the same size. This shift will reduce the distances between bases by four and a half inches. This change could increase stolen base attempts and success rates. While this could be either a benefit or a consequence of the change, the primary goal is to give infielders more room around the bases in hopes of avoiding collisions.


The changes may seem drastic and will be something that players and coaches will have to focus on during Spring training, but there are clear intentions of the MLB's push to make these changes. The goal is to increase batting averages within the game, allow infielders to showcase their athleticism better, and restore the game to more traditional ways of playing.


These changes place more emphasis on the athlete's athleticism. The changes will be implemented in the 2023 season. They will either turn out well or have consequences for the MLB. Time will only tell. 

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