clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

If you could get rid of just one 2020 rule but had to keep the rest, which would it be?

This decision isn’t necessarily easy.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

This is a simple choice.

Or is it?

Major League Baseball instituted several new rules for 2020. Some of them were due to the pandemic-shortened season. Others were scheduled to take effect anyway.

Will all of them survive to see 2021? I’m going to ask you about them later, but first, let’s look briefly at the pros and cons of each rule.

Expanded postseason

Sixteen teams were in the postseason this year, up from 10. Commissioner Rob Manfred has hinted that he wants to keep more than 10 teams in the playoffs, though perhaps not as many as 16.

Pros: More teams have a chance at October glory

Cons: Bad teams have a chance at October glory — this year, two teams with losing records got in and one of them got within one win of the World Series. Also, having so many teams in the postseason diminishes the value of the regular season, particularly September games.

Three-batter minimum

This, like the automatic intentional walk and limitations on mound visits, was supposed to improve the pace of play. As I wrote here back in January, this was a solution in search of a problem. My article quoted a Cliff Corcoran piece in The Athletic in which he crunched the numbers for 2019:

Over the course of the 2,429 major-league games played in 2019, those 691 pitching appearances work out to just one every 3 1/2 games. If, in every case, the new rule eliminated the mid-inning pitching change entirely, it would have made the average time of a major-league game in 2019 (drumroll, please) … 34 seconds shorter.

Thirty. Four. Seconds.

I can’t imagine those numbers changed much for 2020.

Pros: None that I can think of.

Cons: See above.

Runner on second base in extra innings

I wrote about this in September after I concluded that I didn’t hate this as much as I thought I would. In that article, I proposed a couple of different ways in which this rule could be tweaked to make it more palatable to those who do hate it, including having “normal” baseball through the 12th inning, then if no one wins, use the placed-runner rule. Only about 1.5 percent of all games go 13 innings or longer.

Pros: It helps save bullpens as well as player fatigue in general.

Cons: It just doesn’t feel like “real” baseball.

Universal DH

This is probably the most contentious of the rule changes. It’s one where very few minds are going to be changed and it’s not my place here to try to do that. You either love this or you hate it. Whether or not it stays for 2021 — and that would be subject to player-owner negotiations — it’s likely going to happen as part of the next CBA. In fact, teams would probably like to know yes or no on this for 2021 soon, so that NL clubs can plan their offseasons.

Pros: Pitchers are lousy hitters, have always been lousy hitters, and not only does the universal DH eliminate that, it eliminates pitcher injuries from batting or running the bases.

Cons: Many like the history and strategy that pitchers batting brings to the game.

Vote in the poll! If you are reading this article on Google AMP or Apple News, you will have to go to a desktop browser to vote.


You can get rid of just one MLB rule change, but have to keep the rest. Which one goes?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    Expanded postseason
    (188 votes)
  • 18%
    Three-batter minimum
    (110 votes)
  • 33%
    Runner on second base in extra innings
    (199 votes)
  • 15%
    Universal DH
    (92 votes)
589 votes total Vote Now