Back in February, San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado said MLB’s new rules were going to make players “angry and p***** off.”
Count his Padres teammate, pitcher Blake Snell, among those players.
Snell is definitely not a fan of some of the new rules Major League Baseball implemented this year would be a large understatement.
As part of a ESPN survey, Snell was asked, “What’s your favorite thing about the new rules so far?”
His answer? “None that I can think of.”
Blake Snell was also asked, “What’s one thing about the rule changes you think needs improvement?”
He had a much longer answer for that one.
“Stolen bases. It’s a joke,” Snell replied. “Can’t throw no one out. You have to be 1.2/1.3 [seconds] to the plate. If you pick twice, they’re getting crazy jumps and leads. Stolen bases are a joke. And the bases are closer. The game was made perfectly and they changed the game.
“I need to be better at pressing buttons [on the PitchCom device],” he continued. “Sometimes you’re thinking about how to attack a hitter, then you need to hit the buttons. I’d like to be able to say I’m pressing the wrong buttons. More time would help.”
Kyle Higashioka, New York Yankees catcher, echoed Snell’s concerns, saying, “The new [pickoffs] rule does kind of hang the catchers out to dry, I think a little bit, because there’s really not much more we can do other than make sure we’re making a good throw, make sure the pitchers are quick to the plate, and we try to use our picks strategically.”
Tampa Bay Rays manager and former MLB catcher Kevin Cash also agreed with Snell on one point, “I’d eliminate the limit on throwovers. I think that’s stupid.”
Stolen bases are up in 2023, thanks to the new throwover and pitcher disengagement rules, but also because of the larger bases that are now being used.
As of May 1, the average stolen bases per game is at the highest number since 2012. The success rate for stolen base attempts is at 79.4 percent. Since the statistic started being kept in 1951, it’s never been above 76 percent for the whole league.
How crazy are stolen bases this season?
Ty France had 0 career MLB steals before tonight.
He just stole third base! 😮 pic.twitter.com/wizCKD1CNq
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) April 4, 2023
Almost everyone else ESPN asked wanted to see some tweaks in the pitch clock.
Ian Happ wants a 17 second pitch clock with no one on base. Mark Canha suggested 20 seconds in that scenario. Tony Kemp just said he thinks “in certain situations you need to make an adjustment.” Elvis Andrus wants to make the beginning of every inning like the beginning of the game with no pitch clock. St. Louis Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol wants the pitcher, with no runners on, to have the ability to step off the rubber at least once per at bat.
Will Major League Baseball’s brass listen to its players and coaches? Based on the league’s past track record, it would a surprise if they did.