SALT LAKE CITY– Forget Punxsutawney Phil. Baseball enthusiasts mark the end of winter when pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training each February. When this season opens, MLB will have some rule changes, let’s learn about them
That magical time of year when the boys of summer return to complexes across Florida and Arizona is upon us once again.
After adopting the designated hitter rule league-wide in 2022, Commissioner Rob Manfred and a newly formed Joint Competition Committee of players have their eyes on more wide-ranging change in 2023.
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Traditionally resistant to change, MLB will be implementing a host of new rules this season. The goal is to increase on-field action while reducing the amount of time between a ball being put in play.
New on-field rules are coming in 2023, and we have answers for your questions: https://t.co/Zk1KFZMumG pic.twitter.com/hFyrkagA34
— MLB (@MLB) February 7, 2023
For 8,000 games, or the equivalent of 3 1/2 major league seasons, MLB has tested rule variations at the minor league level. MLB officials have also gathered extensive polling data from players and fans alike.
Theo Epstein, three-time World Series-winning executive of the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs teams that ended a combined 194 years of disappointment, now a consultant with MLB, joined the R2C2 Podcast in November to discuss the rule changes.
MLB Rule Changes
Baseball is a sport that prides itself on tradition & clings to unwritten rules like gospel. A large part of the romanticism of baseball is that it’s the only sport played without a clock.
“Part of what makes baseball great is not having any clocks on the field, not having the sense of time. We get 27 outs,” Epstein said. “I think the pitch timer is going to be the single most impactful rule change. Honestly, I think it’s a huge win for baseball.”
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Pitchers now have 15 seconds to throw a pitch with the bases empty, rising to 20 seconds with a runner on base. The timer starts the moment the pitcher receives the ball and stops the moment he goes into his motion. Pitchers will have a 30-second clock between batters.
Pitchers are limited to two ‘disengagements’ per plate appearance (e.g., pick-off attempt, step off rubber) with runners on base before being called for a balk.
Here is a great breakdown of how a pitch timer will impact #MLB this summerpic.twitter.com/npFy8TUnY7
— Brian Preece (@bpreece24) February 9, 2023
Minor league game times have decreased by an average of 25 minutes; but contrary to its surface appearance, the pitch timer intends to eliminate dead time on the field rather than speed up the game.
“What’s amazing is it creates a better style of baseball,” Epstein explained. “Beyond what it meant for time of game is the pace and the rhythm of the game. There’s some evidence that strikeout rates goes down because pitchers are in better rhythm. Hitters are ready to swing the bat so walk rate goes down.”
In minor league samples, defenses overall have improved as pitchers throw more strikes. With more strikes, batting averages have risen but, according to Epstein, the run scoring environment hasn’t shifted substantially.
“Fans right now have to wait more than four minutes between balls in play in the big leagues. That’s gonna go dramatically down with the pitch timer,” Epstein concluded.
Limited Defensive Shifts
“Fans grew up knowing where the shortstop and second baseman are intuitively, and fans know or used to know what a base hit looks like off the bat,” Epstein reasoned. “That’s changed in the last decade or so.”
Beginning this season, defenses will be required to deploy a minimum of four players on the infield. At least two infielders are required on either side of second base until a pitch is thrown.
Should #MLB defenses be able to deploy defenders wherever they want?
2023 shift limitations could open the field up for certain hitterspic.twitter.com/Mzpd8OFPEM
— Brian Preece (@bpreece24) February 9, 2023
The rule comes in three parts:
- Depth – All four infielders must have both feet within the outer boundary of the infield when the pitcher is on the rubber.
- Lateral Positioning – Infielders must be positioned on each side of second base when the pitch is released.
- No Switching Sides – Infielders may not switch sides (e.g., placing the best defender on the side the batter is more likely to hit the ball) unless there is a substitution.
“The least impactful, in terms of style of play, but I think it’s overlooked what it means for for athleticism defense,” Epstein said. “With the shift restrictions in place, we found in the minor leagues that infielders just have more room to roam. More room to make plays at the extremities of the range. Infielders end up loving that freedom. They feel like it puts them back in a position to make game-changing plays. And that puts the game back in the hands of players.”
Increased Base Size
This is a rule the casual fan probably won’t even notice at the ballpark.
Increasing from 15 inches square to 18 inches square, the primary goal of this change is to give defenders more room to work around the bag while reducing collisions with base runners. The size of home plate remains unchanged.
Added hits and stolen bases from #MLB's increased base size in 2023 are expected to be minimal.
What is expected to have a large impact on the game will be the reduced collisions on the bases, keeping the best players on the field.pic.twitter.com/ZJLet7L8Gg
— Brian Preece (@bpreece24) February 9, 2023
As a natural side effect, the increased base size reduces the distance between first and second base, and second to third base, by 4 1/2 inches.
Between increased base size and pitch timer related rules that limit pick-off attempts, stolen base attempts have increased from 1.88 attempts per game to 2.34 attempts per game at the minor league level. Stolen base success rate increased by 2.5 percent in Triple-A.
“We have not had somebody steal 40 bags in the big leagues for the last three seasons,” Epstein remarked. “Is anyone gonna complain if someone goes out there and steals 60 or 70 bags? No way.”
Epstein cautioned that future changes, including adjusting current rules, will continue to be looked at as more information comes available.
“Clearly, with all these rule changes, we have to keep our eyes wide open and make sure we’re open to adjustments. There’s no pride of authorship on any of this stuff. If there are downstream impacts that we didn’t anticipate, we can correct for them.”
‘Ghost Runner’ Rule To Stay
Officials announced Monday morning that MLB’s joint competition committee members had voted unanimously to permanently adopt the extra-innings tiebreaker rule that has been in place since 2020.
“In all regular-season extra-inning games, a runner will be placed on second base to begin the 10th inning, and in every subsequent extra inning after that, until a winner is determined.”
Known as the ‘ghost runner’ rule, this rule will only apply in the regular season. Postseason games will not use a ‘ghost runner’.
MLB’s Joint Competition Committee Votes To Make "Ghost Runner" Rule Permanent; Limits On Position Players Pitching https://t.co/NaST5bq0Do pic.twitter.com/AaZxk1HhVp
— MLB Trade Rumors (@mlbtraderumors) February 13, 2023
MLB also announced increased restrictions on position players taking the mound in game situations.
“A position player for a team that is trailing cannot come in unless the lead is eight runs or more. And a position player for a team that is leading cannot come in until the 9th inning, and only if the lead is ten runs or more.”
Position players will be allowed to pitch freely in extra-innings.
Fortunately for everybody, moments like these are still possible, if only less likely.
Anthony Rizzo strikes out Freddie Freeman and they can't stop laughing 😆 pic.twitter.com/eExj4N6npO
— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) April 29, 2021
Pitchers & Catchers Report
All MLB teams are scheduled to open camp by February 16 with full-squad workouts less than a week later. The Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals are scheduled to play the first game of 2023 on February 24.
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What is the 2023 shift rule? ›
The shift. The new rule: At the time a pitch is thrown, all four infielders are required to be on the infield dirt (or infield grass) with two on each side of second base. Players will be able to move as soon as the ball leaves the pitcher's hand.What is MLB Rule 9? ›
(a) Players leaving their position in the field or on base, or managers or coaches leaving the bench or coaches box, to argue on BALLS AND STRIKES will not be permitted. They should be warned if they start for the plate to protest the call. If they continue, they will be ejected from the game.Why are they trying to speed up baseball? ›
Faced with criticism of dwindling cultural relevance and a laggardly product compared to other major sports, Major League Baseball introduced a set of new rules this year to speed up games and attract younger fans. The bases are bigger to improve player safety and may also encourage more aggressive baserunning.What is the MLB The Show 23 shift ban? ›
MLB The Show 23 will implement the rule changes that have been made to the shift. Therefore, players will be unable to put more than two fielders on one side of second base. This will make MLB The Show 23 even more realistic and coincide with the real life MLB rules.Will the shift be illegal in 2023? ›
The shift is basically entirely banned in 2023 and moving forward for the forseeable future. Teams now must have all four infielders in the infield, and two players must be on either side of second base.Is MLB going to outlaw the shift? ›
Major League Baseball will effectively ban the shift beginning in 2023 as part of a series of rules changes announced Friday. All four infielders will now be required to have both feet in the infield and two infielders will be required to be on either side of second base when the pitch is delivered.What is Rule 8 in baseball? ›
8-1-1 A batter becomes a runner with the right to attempt to score by advancing to first, second, third and home bases in the listed order when: he hits a fair ball (2-5-1); He becomes a batter-runner when entitled to run.What is Rule 21 MLB? ›
(1) Any player, umpire, or Club or League official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform, shall be declared ineligible for one year.What is the 13 and 13 rule in MLB? ›
On June 20, Major League Baseball mandated that teams may have no more than 13 pitchers on their rosters. The intent of this rule is simple: limit pitching changes to move games along more quickly and create a product with more on-field action to entertain fans and keep them coming to and watching games.At what speed is it impossible to hit a baseball? ›
We then find BBS=140 mph. I think we can take this as an extreme upper limit on how hard a baseball can be hit by an MLB batter. Launched at 300, such a ball would travel over 550 ft.
Why can't a fastball rise? ›
Physics experiments confirm that many reported trajectories are possible, but not the rising fastball. The present paper shows how the apparent rise may be explained as a perceptual illusion due to the hitter underestimating original speed of the pitch.How many times can a pitcher throw to first base in 2023? ›
Pitchers will also no longer be allowed to throw to first base or step off of the pitcher's mound as many times as they want. Instead they will be allowed two disengagements per plate appearance.Why is MLB getting rid of the shift? ›
Since 2019, shifts changed how the game looked and how it was played. They made the game aesthetically awkward and less entertaining, which is why a rule change was needed: to rebalance the entertainment value of baseball against its brutish efficiency.How do you throw to the cutoff man in MLB The Show 23? ›
- Home Plate: B.
- First Base: A.
- Second Base: X.
- Third Base: Y.
- Cutoff Man: L.
MLB is increasing base sizes in order to promote player safety and make bang-bang plays less dangerous for defenders and runners. There is slightly less distance between bases now, so there may be more stolen bases, but that would not necessarily be a "feature" of the new sizes.What happens if pitcher takes too long? ›
Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call "Ball." The 12-second timing starts when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher. The timing stops when the pitcher releases the ball.Is there a mercy rule in MLB? ›
As per reports, it goes something like this: If a team is leading by 15 or more runs after five innings, or 10 or more runs after seven innings, the game is brought to an end and called in favor of the team that's leading.What is MLB doing about the shift? ›
The new MLB shift rule for 2023
At the start of each pitch, teams must have at least two infielders on either side of second base, with all four positioned on the infield dirt. Infielders may not switch positions unless there is a substitution.
The new pitch clock rules state that a pitcher gets 15 seconds to begin the motion to throw the ball with the bases empty and 20 seconds with runners on base. If he can't do this in time, he is charged with a ball. The hitter, however, must also be ready to go in the batter's box.What are the changes in the MLB season 2023? ›
Further changes were announced on February 13, 2023: In regular-season games, all extra innings will start with a runner on second base. This rule was first used in the COVID-abbreviated 2020 season and again in the lockout-shortened 2022 spring training.
What is Rule 5 in baseball? ›
Once a Rule 5 draftee spends an entire season on his new team's active roster, his status reverts to normal and he may be optioned or designated for assignment. To prevent the abuse of the Rule 5 draft, the rule also states that the draftee must actually be active for at least 90 days.What does Rule 5 mean in MLB? ›
Definition. Held each December, the Rule 5 Draft allows clubs without a full 40-man roster to select certain non-40-man roster players from other clubs. Clubs draft in reverse order of the standings from the previous season.What is the 10 5 rule in baseball? ›
Definition. Players who have accrued 10 years of Major League service time and spent the past five consecutive years with the same team are awarded 10-and-5 rights. Under these circumstances, a player can veto any trade scenario that is proposed.What is the 27th man rule in MLB? ›
MLB clubs have a 26-man active Major League roster but are allowed to recall one additional player who is on the 40-man roster to serve as the 27th member for the day of a doubleheader. That player accrues one day of MLB service time and is returned to the Minor Leagues following the completion of the doubleheader.What is Rule 5.11 in MLB? ›
If a defensive player goes to the mound (i.e., replaces the pitcher), this move shall terminate the designated hitter's role for the remainder of the game.
Colloquially referred to as the "Shohei Ohtani rule," a pitcher who is in the starting lineup as a hitter can remain in the game as the DH after being pulled from the mound.What is Rule 6 in baseball? ›
6-1-1 The pitcher shall pitch while facing the batter from either a windup position (6-1-2) or a set position (6-1-3). The position of his feet determine whether he will pitch from the windup or the set position.Can you hit a 90 mph pitch? ›
We have had many mid 90MPH pitchers (injury free to boot) as well as some whom have touched 99+MPH. Some of these athletes have gained upwards of 50lbs of very clean weight (still viable abs) in less than a year. Everyone is different based on genetics, work ethic, movement capabilities, diet etc.How fast does a 100 mph fastball get to home plate? ›
A 100-mph fastball takes roughly 375-400 milliseconds to reach the plate. For reference, the blink of an eye takes 300-400 milliseconds.Can anyone throw a baseball 90 mph? ›
Velocity Myth #2: “I Throw 90”
Despite it being more common than ever, still, very few pitchers can do this. On the average Division-I baseball team, each team usually has 4-8 players capable of touching 90mph, though perhaps only 1 or 2 who can average it.
What is the fastest pitch in history? ›
What is the fastest pitch ever thrown? Aroldis Chapman officially holds the Guinness World Record for fastest baseball pitch with a 105.8 mph fastball. On Sept. 24, 2010, the Cincinnati Reds' pitcher set the record with a high-velocity pitch against the San Diego Padres.Why do baseball players lift their leg when pitching? ›
First, it starts the pitcher's momentum toward the plate. Momentum is important for the pitcher because it helps generate force behind the ball. Secondly, the leg lift allows the pitcher to load the back leg and hips. The pitching leg is loaded when the glove foot leaves the ground.Can a MLB pitcher bounce the ball? ›
According to the definition, a pitch is a ball delivered to the batter by the pitcher. It doesn't matter how the pitch reaches the batter. The batter may hit any pitch that is thrown. Note that a pitch that bounces before reaching the plate may never be called a strike or a legally-caught third strike.Can a pitcher fake a throw to second? ›
The pitcher is still allowed to fake a throw to second base while in contact with the rubber provided that he steps towards second. Note that a pitcher, when faking a throw to second base, is not required to have arm motion in the fake, although a legal step is required.Can a pitcher fake a throw to first? ›
A pitcher can not feint a throw to first base.Has a pitcher ever struck out every batter in a game? ›
On May 13, 1952 while pitching for the Class-D Bristol Twins, Ron Necciai tossed a no-hitter, striking out 27 in nine innings!How will MLB stop the shift? ›
No more. The new rules stipulate that teams must have four infielders starting with at least one of their feet in the infield dirt, eliminating the extra outfielder positioning. Also, there must be two infielders on each side of second base, preventing the overloading of one side.Can you shift outfielders in baseball? ›
The shift ban specifically applies to the infield as two infielders must be on either side of second base and have both of their feet on the dirt when the pitch is released. Since it doesn't apply to outfielders, the Red Sox employed a loophole when pull hitter Joey Gallo stepped to the plate.Why is banning the shift good? ›
The same holds true of second baseman making plays to the left and right. Banning the shift could therefore do for infield defense what the Buster Posey rule did for plays at the plate. There would be losses for efficiency, but gains for athleticism. Strictly on an entertainment level, that would be a good thing.What is the longest bans in MLB history? ›
Clay Hensley was suspended 15 games in 2005. While playing for the New York Mets in 2006 Guillermo Mota was suspended for 50 games. In 2007, Jorge Sosa was suspended 50 games. At the end of the 2007 season, Mike Cameron was suspended for 25 games, effective the next season.
What pitch is banned in MLB? ›
Each team was allowed to designate up to two pitchers who would be permitted to throw spitballs. After the 1920 season, the use of the spitball was banned with the exception of a group of 17 existing spitballers, who became legacy spitballers who were allowed to throw the pitch legally until they retired.Where do MLB managers go when ejected? ›
When a manager is ejected, he leaves the dugout and returns to the clubhouse for the rest of the game. A bench coach will assume the role of manager for the rest of the game. The game continues, picking up where it left off.What is the button accuracy in the show? ›
Button accuracy is the setting that elite gamers will use to let their team focus on hitting instead of defense. A meter will go from left to right and players will need to press a button to stop the meter while it is in the green area or else risk throwing the ball away.What is button accuracy in MLB The Show 23? ›
Button Accuracy: Press and release the button within the timing window to increase the throwing accuracy. Buttons: Use buttons to throw to the corresponding bases. Analog: Analog Throwing utilises the right stick when throwing to the bases.Why is the shift being banned? ›
Banning the shift isn't only about balls in play, however. The thinking goes that the recent emphasis on launch angle and exit velocity is partially a response to an increase in infield shifts. Hitting the ball over the fielders' heads renders any defensive alignment useless, after all.Why did MLB change the shift rule? ›
MLB's new shift rule
243) at its lowest point since 1968, MLB wanted to see more balls in play turn into hits. Eliminating the overshift is expected to help, while at the same time require more athletic plays by infielders.
The 7-inning rule stayed in the 2021 season but eventually ended in 2022. There will be no 7-inning doubleheader match in 2023. MLB also banned the day-night doubleheaders in 2001, except in rare conditions. The NCAA and Minor League programs have had seven innings in their double-header rules for a long time.Can a pitcher step to third and throw to first? ›
While a pitcher cannot fake a throw to first base without stepping off the rubber, he can fake a throw to third base. A pitcher does not have to throw when moving toward third base and therefore is allowed to stop an initial move to third and then throw to first.What is a babip in baseball? ›
BABIP measures a player's batting average exclusively on balls hit into the field of play, removing outcomes not affected by the opposing defense (namely home runs and strikeouts). For example, a hitter who goes 2-for-5 with a home run and a strikeout would have a . 333 BABIP. He's 1-for-3 on the balls he put in play.How effective is the shift in baseball? ›
Most commonly, the shift results in having an additional infielder on one side of second base to defend against ground balls hit by extreme pull hitters. At times, this has often resulted in one infielder turning into more of a roving outfielder in shallow left or right field.
How long has the shift been in baseball? ›
It's generally believed that Indians player-manager Lou Boudreau invented the shift -- it was even called "the Boudreau Shift" -- but as Glenn Stout notes in Red Sox Century, the first to use a shift against Williams was White Sox manager Jimmy Dykes, on July 23, 1941.What is the best record in MLB history? ›
Based on winning percentage, the 1906 Chicago Cubs had the best regular season in history at 116-36, but did not win the World Series. The Cubs lost to the Chicago White Sox in the World Series.Is MLB considering expansion? ›
The 2023 baseball season will see pitch clocks, larger bases, a restriction on infield shifts, and let's not forget, a new schedule format in which every team will play every other team for the first time in history.Why is baseball 162 games? ›
"After the first expansion, each team had nine rivals rather than seven, and the 154-game season made for bad math," MLB's official historian, John Thorn, explains. To play 22 games against each rival would require an 198-game season, so MLB settled on 18 games per rival for nine rivals, for a total of 162 games.Can the pitcher see the pitch clock? ›
The clocks will be positioned behind the plate and beyond the outfield, where pitchers and hitters can easily see them. They'll count down from 30 seconds between batters. Between pitches, it will be 15 seconds with nobody on and 20 if there's a baserunner.