MLB set to announce pitch clocks, shift limits for 2023

Major League Baseball will announce a pitch clock and defensive shift limits next season to shorten games and increase offense.

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball will announce a pitch clock and defensive shift limits next season to shorten games and increase offense.

The sport’s 11-member competition committee will enact the rule changes on Friday, mandating a clock that counts down 15 seconds with no runners on base and 20 seconds with runners. The MLB clock will be slightly longer than the version experimented with in the minor leagues this season: 14 seconds with empty bases and 19 seconds with runners at Triple-A and 14/18 at lower levels.

“It’s something to get used to, but I think the impact on the pace of the game was good overall,” said the Yankees’ Matt Carpenter, who spent April at Triple-A with Round Rock.

The shift limit requires four players in addition to the pitcher and catcher to be in front of the outfield turf when a pitch is thrown, including two of the four on each side of second base.

Additionally, there is a limit of two pickoff attempts, or steps off the rubber, during each plate appearance, which MLB refers to as disengagements. If a third attempt is made and unsuccessful, a balk would be called. The limit would reset to two during a plate appearance if a runner advances.

Bases are increased in size from 15 to 18-inch squares, which promotes security – first basemen are less likely to be kicked – but also boosts stolen bases and attacks at a slightly reduced distance.

The plans, first reported by The Athletic, were detailed by two baseball officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the changes weren’t scheduled to be announced until Friday.

The changes will be launched during spring training.

A catcher must be nine seconds on the clock in the catcher’s box and a hitter must be in the batter’s box and eight seconds remaining focused on the pitcher. Penalties for infractions are a ball call against a pitcher and a strike call against a batter.

The time between half-innings is set at 2:15 for most regular season games, 2:40 for nationally televised games, and 3:10 for postseason games. The clock will be 30 seconds between batters.

A batsman may request time from an umpire once per plate appearance, and thereafter time will be granted only at the umpire’s discretion if the request is made in the box.

The clock has cut the average time of a nine-inning minor league game from 3:04 in 2021 to 2:38 this season. The average nine-inning game time in the major leagues this year is 3:06 — down from 2:46 in 1989, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“It’s slow. It’s boring,” Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia said of a television show in 2017. “Man, it’s so hard to watch if you’re not interested in it.”

Shifts have been capped at Double-A and Class A throughout the season, where teams are required to have four players in infield, including two on each side of second base.

According to Sports Info Solutions, the use of shifts has exploded over the past decade, from 2,357 in-game hits in 2011 to 28,130 in 2016 and 59,063 in the last year. 71,000 were on shifts this year, according to mid-season data.

The big league batting average of .243 this year is on track to be the lowest since 1967, two years before the pitcher’s mound was lowered from 15 inches to 10.

Players had long resisted a clock at the major league level. In the lockout settlement in March, management won the right to set up an 11-member committee consisting of six management representatives, four players and one referee.

https://www.king5.com/article/sports/mlb/mlb-set-to-announce-pitch-clocks-shift-limits-for-2023/281-8c226321-49fc-4663-a641-6e571914ff4a MLB set to announce pitch clocks, shift limits for 2023

Emma Bowman

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