2023 MLB Rule Changes: Are They Ruining a Good Game?

MLB’s 2023 season will have new rules with mixed reactions from players, fans, and and sports bettors – including a pitch clock, limited pickoff attempts, ban on defensive shifts, and larger bases.
Shaking Up the Diamond: A Look at the 2023 MLB Rule Changes
Shaking Up the Diamond: A Look at the 2023 MLB Rule Changes

Major League Baseball (MLB) has faced significant challenges since Rob Manfred became the commissioner in 2015. As spring camps are set to open soon, the MLB faces a new and perhaps its most significant challenge yet: introducing substantial rule changes to make baseball more enjoyable to watch and played at a better pace.

Some have received the changes with open arms, while others have criticized them heavily. A significant rule change that has received plenty of criticism is the creation of a pitch clock. According to the traditionalist viewpoint, a pitch clock will ruin the timeless tradition of baseball. However, others view it as a tremendous change to save time and reduce the actionless period of the game.

The 2023 MLB Changed Rules

Nevertheless, these rule changes will impact the game and players significantly. Let’s take a look into the rule changes made by MLB and how these will ultimately influence the game.

Introduction of a Pitch Clock

Baseball has received criticism for having too long games that lack excitement. In 2021, the average game lasted 3 hours and 11 minutes, a new record. This record was in contrast to 1985 when games lasted an average of 2 hours and 44 minutes. Recently, there have been fewer hits per game and more strikeouts than ever.

However, this has changed with the introduction of a pitch clock. Pitchers will now have a limited time of fifteen seconds with the bases empty and twenty seconds with a runner on base to begin their motion, or they will receive a ball. Conversely, Batters will receive a strike if they are not in the box by the eight-second mark.

Limited Pickoff Attempts

Under the new rules, a pitcher can only make two disengagements per plate appearance, such as pickoff attempts or step-offs. If they make a third disengagement, it will result in a balk, which will give the runners a free base. Additionally, there will be a 30-second clock between batters, and regular-season games will have a 2-minute and 15-second break between innings.

Defensive Shifts Banned

A new rule has been introduced that prohibits defensive shifts in baseball. When the pitcher starts their motion, all infielders must have both feet on the grass. Additionally, each team must have two infielders on each side of the second base. If a violation of this rule occurs, it will result in a ball, or the batting team can choose to let the play stand.

Larger Bases

The size of all three bases in baseball has been increased from 15 to 18 inches square to reduce collisions at first base and encourage more infield hits and stolen bases. This change will shorten the distance between the first and second base and between the second and third base by 4.5 inches.

Mixed Reactions from MLB Players and League’s Response

Despite the rule changes, MLB fans are excited to see new rules implemented and how they will affect the outcome of games, especially with only a little more than a month remaining till the start of the season.

Indeed, the changes in rules could potentially make the game all the more exciting, which could ultimately attract more viewers. Sports betting enthusiasts might be among those with to cast their eyes on the MLB.

As a result of recent changes in law, sports betting fans are now able to use the best betting apps that are available to them where they live or visit to place wagers on the action that takes place in the middle of the field. Some sports betting apps provide exciting bonuses and promo codes to their users to maximize the fun and experience of online betting during games.

Naturally, the rule changes could make things more interesting for fans and bettors alike, while it does also appear that the league is also pleased with the decision they have made in order to improve the game.

Players Are Not Fully On-Board

While the league has expressed confidence in the changes, there have been doubts raised by some major league players throughout the process. A recently formed competition committee with six owners, four players, and an umpire voted in favor of the changes last September by a margin of 7-4. However, all four players on the committee voted against everything except for the proposal to increase base sizes.

ESPN interviewed 18 players regarding the new rule changes set to be implemented, and a common sentiment emerged. While the players were generally open to the changes in theory, they were frustrated with how Major League Baseball (MLB) had chosen to introduce them. Many believed the changes were being raised too quickly and that it would have been better to ease them in gradually. Some players suggested starting with a longer pitch clock would have been a more promising approach, while others preferred a less drastic adjustment to the shift rules instead of a complete mandate dictating where players could stand on the field.

Baseball pitcher

According to the players, limiting pitchers to just two disengagements from the rubber will significantly impact the opposing team’s ability to steal bases. However, the league has argued that resetting the pitch clock while still allowing unlimited step-offs would undermine the purpose of having a clock since pitchers could continuously step off to delay the game.

One player said, “Hitting isn’t easy; I need to do things at my pace, not the commissioner’s.” In response to such comments, the league has stated that having players speed up the pace of play is a necessary tradeoff to provide fans with a better experience. Players have also acknowledged the importance of rapid play for the growth and development of the sport.

Despite some players’ reservations about the rule changes, plenty of players support them. For instance, left-handed hitters interviewed by ESPN welcomed the elimination of the shift, as did some of the sport’s top defensive players.

Even though some players are hesitant towards the changes, there will be no gradual implementation of the new rules at the significant league level. MLB believes that applying the rules as soon as possible will allow players to adjust more quickly. This approach was successful in the minor leagues, where violations of the pitch clock decreased rapidly in the weeks following the implementation of the changes.

Divided Opinions Across The MLB

There is a divided opinion among MLB players and fans alike regarding various game rules changes. Despite concerns from some players who think the new rule changes are too sudden and extreme, the MLB is confident that these changes will ultimately improve the sport. The commissioner is convinced that the league is responding to the feedback of its fans. The new rules may be received poorly by those who love the traditional baseball style; however, many modern-day players welcome these changes as they will generate more audience by making the game more entertaining.