The major leagues have undergone a dramatic shift. Major League Baseball’s competition committee voted to implement new rules last September, so we’ve had a full month of spring training games to see how they’ve played out. The real test of those regulations is upon us.
These regulations have been in place in the minor leagues for the past few seasons, drastically altering the tempo of the game and the intensity of play.
There will be a limit to the number of times a pitcher can disengage from the rubber, a pitch clock for the first time in baseball’s history, the shift will be banned, the bases will be enlarged, and so on.
New MLB Regulations For The Upcoming 2023 Season Are Discussed
As of the 2023 baseball season, the game’s pace is predicted to alter significantly. “Timing” was the buzzword of the MLB offseason. As the regular season expanded to 162 games, the pressure was on to make the game faster and more exciting.
The timer’s goal is to shorten game times. This season, the minor leagues and spring training adopted rules that cut nearly half an hour off the average game time. Pitchers have 15 seconds to get into their delivery when there are no runners in the scoring position; with runners in the scoring position, that time increases to 20 seconds.
Eight seconds are left on the clock, and the batter must be in the box and ready to hit. If the pitcher isn’t ready, the ball has ruled a strike and the batter is penalized with a strike. Once, early in spring training, a game ended in the bottom of the ninth inning when a batter was called out on a 3-2 count with two outs.
Boundaries For Pitchers Who Quit
Pitchers are only allowed to leave the pitching rubber twice per plate appearance, and those times must be used for either a timeout or a pickoff throw. A pitcher who has used both of his disengagements may still try to pick off a runner, but he must do so successfully. If the baserunner returns to the base safely, a balk is called and the runner moves up to the next base.
If a runner moves forward while at bat, the countdown to their disengagement resets to zero. Disengagements do not include mound visits, timeouts for injuries, or timeouts for the offensive team.
Because of the increased importance placed on disengagements, umpires may be more inclined to call balks on pitchers who do not fully stop in their stretch.
Field Change Limits
Many baseball fans believe that the infield shift, in which three or more infielders play on one side of second base and one plays in the outfield, has led to a decline in batting averages over the past decade.
The new regulation mandates that when a pitch is thrown, all four infielders must have at least one foot inside the outfield fence and two infielders must be positioned on either side of second base.
It was also mandated by MLB that the outfield edge be 95 feet from the front of the pitching rubber and that the infield dirt be the same dimensions in all 30 ballparks. After the release of the pitch, players may not sprint from one side of the second base to the other, and umpires will have wide latitude to enforce this rule.
When no runners are on base, a pitcher has 15 seconds to deliver a pitch. With runners on base, that time increases to 20 seconds. By the eight-second mark, batters should be set up and communicating with the pitcher. In the event of a delay, the pitcher will be awarded a ball and the batter a strike.