Major League Baseball is instituting its biggest rule changes in decades, maybe longer, in 2023.
Among those changes are the banning of the infield shift, a pitch clock to speed up the game, and larger bases aimed at reducing injury and increasing stolen base opportunities.
But not everyone is a fan of the news rules.
The pitch clock, in particular, has received a significant amount of criticism after some embarrassing moments in the first week of Spring Training.
But the MLB is committed to the changes. The aims of the news rules are to shorten games and increase the amount of runs scores.
And, at least so far, the rule changes have done just that.
ESPN quantified the affects of the new rules in the early going, and the results are eye-opening.
Runs and batting average were both up through the first wave of games compared to spring training a year ago. Players were hitting .272 through Feb. 28, with an average of 11.9 runs scored. That’s up from a batting average of .259 and 10.6 runs through the same period in 2022.
The uptick in offense does not appear to be affecting pace of play, thanks in large part to the introduction of the pitch clock. The average game time through Feb. 28 was 2 hours, 39 minutes. That’s down from 3:01 over the same stretch last spring training. – via ESPN
The drop in average game time is nearly is just a hair over 12 percent from a year ago. While batters are hitting 13 points better on average than in 2022.
Now, it’s early in Spring Training and those numbers could and very likely will change. But with such a bold swing, Major League Baseball has to love what it’s seeing early on.
Whether fans love it, however, is yet to be seen. And ultimately, they’ll be the ones who determine whether the rules stay or go.