With September upon us and the MLB regular season winding down, I thought I’d give MLB its due for the success of their new rules in 2023. Here’s a look at the four major rule changes that made a significant difference in today’s game.
Larger Bases: While I didn’t see the need for wider bases, I was very much in favor of changing the thickness of the bags. I never understood why the bases were made higher in the middle. I’ve seen the height and hardness of the old bases cause many ankle injuries. However, I suppose the wider bases do help players ‘cut’ the bag while rounding bases. Also, the bigger bag does provide a small advantage for players stealing and, also, getting back to the bag on pickoff attempts. So, overall, a good change.
Pick-off Limit: This rule I could have done without, but it does help make the game more exciting. As of early August, there were 2,410 stolen bases. There were 2,487 steals in all of 2022. So, we’re on our way to a major increase. In addition, the stolen base success rate is nearly 80% (78.8 to be specific). This will be a new, all-time success rate in MLB. Hence, another positive change for MLB.
Pitch Clock: The new clock rule has had a major impact on the game. In 2021, the average time of an MLB 9-inning game reached an all-time high of 3:10. Recent numbers for a 9-inning game in 2023 are down to 2:38. But not only has it shortened the game, more importantly for me, it has also increased the pace of play. This rule was long overdue and has been a major success.
Shift Restrictions: This is by far the best rule change of 2023. I’ve been complaining about defensive shifts in MLB for years. I remember getting into debates with knowledgeable baseball friends years ago about these damn shifts ruining the game. Friends would say, “Hit ‘em where they ain’t.” My response would be, “It’s hard enough hitting the ball. Not everyone is Rod Carew, who can place the ball wherever he wants.” All pro sports leagues have defensive rules to help provide more exciting offense. Why not MLB? Not only was this rule long overdue, but I also think it doesn’t go far enough. There should be a more specific area in which infielders are allowed to set up. Far too often I see shortstops and second basemen playing over the top of second base, plus third basemen playing the shortstop position. Please put this to an end, too. As you’ve seen with the new rules, they’re back to playing baseball and not home run derby. Don’t you enjoy seeing young players running around the bases rather than behemoths standing at the plate with their uppercut swings and either hitting a homerun, fly out, or strike out? This was by far the best rule change made by MLB….finally!
So, thankfully, a positive blog about baseball for a change. And while my team (Red Sox) has sucked this year, the game itself is far more enjoyable to watch.
But don’t fret, as I do have a major complaint about MLB – and it’s one I know some of you won’t like. However, I’ll save those thoughts for another time.
Today, let’s enjoy the positives happening in baseball and look forward to the MLB Playoffs.