Major League Baseball has made massive rule changes for the 2023 season, probably more significant than any changes that have been made in decades.
So far, they appear to be doing exactly what they were intended to do — pick up the pace of games and create more action.
Fans voting in the latest SB Nation Reacts survey were overwhelmingly in favor of all three of MLB’s major rule changes for 2023.
First, the pitch timer (or “pitch clock” as some refer to it):
I’m aware that some of you don’t care for it. For me personally, in addition to knocking about half an hour off the average game length in the early going in 2023, there’s just less dead time. No more batters standing around messing with their batting gloves. No more pitchers wandering around the mound, taking huge deep breaths trying to execute the “perfect” pitch.
All of this has helped create more action, particularly on the basepaths:
In 11 games so far this year, Nico Hoerner has stolen five bases without being caught. It’s silly season for “paces,” of course, and that would put Nico on pace for 74 stolen bases, a level reached by no Chicago Cub ever.
Nico’s not going to steal 74 bases, most likely. But he could become the first Cub to steal 40 bases in a season since Juan Pierre had 58 in 2006. That was the third-most in franchise history in the Modern Era — and you have to go back to Billy Maloney’s 59 in 1905 to top it. Here are all the Cubs to have 50 or more steals in a season in the Modern Era (since 1900):
|6||Eric Young Sr.||54||2000||33||CHC|
That’s it. Only six, ever, and just three since 1906. It’s possible Nico Hoerner could be added to that group this year.
Personally, I got tired of seeing the third baseman play right field. It’s not completely clear yet as to how much this has affected batting averages, and you can see teams playing modified versions of the shift, with the shortstop shaded about as far toward second base as he can go and the third baseman playing where the shortstop normally would stand.
But in general, I think the shift modifications are a good idea and have worked. Here are some numbers for the first two weeks of the season from MLB:
A look at how 2023 rule changes are impacting our game through the first two weeks of the regular season. pic.twitter.com/QuRS7KnYl3— MLB (@MLB) April 13, 2023
What do you think?