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The MLBPA wants to add a few seconds to the pitch clock in the postseason

This is a really bad idea — let’s hope they don’t do it.

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

MLB’s pitch clock, officially called the “pitch timer,” has resulted in a vast improvement in the pace of play in MLB games this year. The average time of game has dropped from 3:06 in 2022 to 2:40 this year, 26 minutes fewer. It’s the shortest average game length since 1984, nearly 40 years ago. The games feel faster-paced and there has been more action, including more balls in play and more stolen bases. Players seem to like it and most fans tend to agree.

The MLB Players Association wants to mess with that for the postseason:

Let’s look at that. There was one well-publicized game in Spring Training that ended on a batter timer violation, but to my knowledge no such thing has happened during the 2023 regular season so far.

Beyond that, let’s see what would happen if (say) five seconds was added to each of the timers, making the timer 20 seconds with no one on base and 25 with runners on.

There have been 400,288 pitches thrown so far this year in Major League Baseball, in 1,357 games. That’s an average of 295 pitches per game. That includes extra innings; in general the average per game for a nine-inning game is about 250.

Even going with the lower number, adding five seconds per pitch would add 1,250 seconds to each game. That’s about 21 minutes. That pretty much would kill the time that’s already been saved by the clock, 26 minutes per game. Add to that the extra minute per half inning added for commercial time in postseason games and, welp, we’re back to postseason games averaging three and a half hours, with some scraping the four-hour mark.

I’d think no one would want that.

Beyond that, there simply have not been that many violations. In all, there have been 756 violations of the new rules this year. Of those, two are shift violations and 14 are batter timeout violations, so that knocks the total of pitch violations down to 740. That’s two-tenths of one percent of the total number of pitches.

Thus 99.8 of all pitches this year are completed without a violation. Players appear to be accustomed to it. Tony Clark’s suggestion, in my view, is a solution in search of a problem. Further, this fact sheet issued today by MLB would seem to indicate that players are doing just fine with the timer and don’t actually need any more time:

The pitch timer has been the best thing baseball has done in decades. It’s improved the quality of play and has picked up the pace of games — Sunday in San Francisco, a 1-0 shutout of the Rockies by the Giants was completed in one hour, 56 minutes, one of eight games so far this year finished in under two hours. In the 10 seasons from 2013-22, there were five such games.

Response to all this from Commissioner Rob Manfred:

I hate to completely agree with Rob Manfred, but this time... he’s right. Don’t mess with success, Tony Clark and the MLBPA. The game is better for the pitch timer. Leave it as is for the postseason.


Regarding the pitch timer...

This poll is closed

  • 68%
    ... leave it the way it currently is for the postseason (15 seconds with no one on, 20 seconds with runners on base)
    (247 votes)
  • 10%
    ... add a few seconds for postseason games
    (37 votes)
  • 18%
    ... I don’t like it and think it should be eliminated for all games
    (67 votes)
  • 2%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (8 votes)
359 votes total Vote Now