NEW YORK – Major League Baseball is set to announce stadium clocks and defensive shift limits next season in an effort to shorten games and increase attacking.
The 11-man Athletic Competition Commission is due to adopt the new rules on Friday, and mandates a 15-second countdown hour with no runners on base and 20 seconds with runners. The MLB watch will be slightly longer than the version tried in the minor leagues this season: 14 seconds with the bases blank, 19 seconds with the Triple-A runners, and 14/18 at the lower levels.
It’s something that takes a while to get used to, but I think the overall effect it has on the pace of the game has been good,” said Matt Carpenter of the Yankees, who spent April in Triple-A with Round Rock.
The change limit will require four players other than the bowler and the hunter in front of the outside turf when pitching, including two of the four on either side of the second base,
Additionally, there will be a limit during each board appearance of two attempts to pull or rubber steps, which MLB calls disengagements. If a third attempt is made and it fails, balk will be called. The limit will reset to two while the board appears if the runner progresses.
Bases will be increased in size to 18 inches squares from 15, enhancing safety – first base men are unlikely to interfere – but also boosting bases loot and attack with slightly less distance.
The plans, first reported by The Athletic, were detailed by two baseball officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the changes were not due to be announced until Friday.
Changes will begin during spring training.
The catcher will be required to be in the catcher’s box with nine seconds remaining on the clock and hit the batter’s chest and focus on the bowler with eight seconds remaining. The penalty for the offense is a ball called against the bowler and a kick against the hitter.
The time between half innings will be set at 2:15 for most regular season games, 2:40 for nationally televised games and 3:10 for post-season games. The clock will be 30 seconds between hitters.
The racketer may ask the referee to time once for each appearance of the board, after which it will only be awarded at the referee’s discretion if the request is made while he is in the box.
The clock has reduced its average nine-game game time in the minor leagues from 3:04 in 2021 to 2:38 this season. The average time for a nine-game match at this year’s major tournaments is 3:06 – it was 2:46 in 1989, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
“It’s slow. It’s boring,” Yankees quarterback CC Sabathia said of a telecast in 2017.
Turnovers have been restricted throughout the season in Double-A and Class A, where teams are required to have four players on the field, including two on each side of second base.
The use of shifts has mushroomed in the past decade, from 2,357 ball hits in play in 2011 to 28,130 in 2016 and 59,063 last year, according to Sports Info Solutions. Transformations are on track for 68,000 this season.
The big league batting average is 0.243 this year on track to be the lowest since 1967, two years before the bowler’s hill was lowered from 15 inches to 10.
Players have long resisted the clock at the major league level. Management secured the right to settle the March shutdown by forming an 11-person panel, which includes six management representatives, four players and one referee.