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Three Major MLB Rule Changes Planned for 2023 Season

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If baseball is America’s pastime, complaining about how baseball needs to be fixed has become the dominant mode of engaging with it. The game, crow the naysayers, is boring, exsanguinated by the cruel tyranny of three-true-outcomes style baseball. And this is certainly not wrong—in 1990, just about a quarter of all plate appearances ended in a strikeout, walk or home run; this year, over a third of plate appearances do. In other words, the games are longer and less is happening. The solution? MLB rule changes!

Today, baseball's 11 person competition committee approved the most sweeping set of MLB rule changes in over 50 year in an attempt to goose-up some action—namely, base hits and stolen bases. Before these new rules are implemented before next season, here's everything you need to know about the game's upcoming facelift.

Pitch Clock

Starting next season, MLB will introduce a pitch clock, which will keep games chugging along at a steady pace. Under the new pitch clock, pitchers will have 15 seconds to throw the ball when the bases are empty and 20 seconds to do so when a runner is on base. Similarly, all other potential stoppages and delays are strictly regulated. Batters must be ready within eight seconds of the start of the pitch clock and are limited to one timeout per plate appearance; the pitcher can only step off the mound twice (such as to attempt a pickoff) per plate-appearance when a runner is on base; mound visits have a 30 second time limit from when the manager or pitching coach leaves the dugout; all “extended inning events” (think: playing God Bless America or having the grounds crew do the YMCA dance) require the explicit consent of Rob Manfred himself.

Banning the Shift

To a certain kind of baseball fan, the shift is an affront to God. Whereas teams now can arrange their defense in whatever kind of hit-robbing arrangement they see fit, next year teams must have four players positioned within the infield dirt and have two players on each side of second base. By doing so, MLB is hoping to encourage more base hits by decluttering important areas of the field; teams will no longer be able to sardine defenders up the middle and in the second-base hole, which has become standard practice against left-handed batters. As a potential side effect, hitters could tweak their approach in a more contact-friendly direction—since it’ll be easier to get a base hit, there’s less incentive to adopt a homer-or-bust mentality. 

Larger Bases

The bases: they’ll be larger.

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