MLB

MLB To Implement Pitch Clock, Ban Defensive Shifts Beginning In 2023

Sep 9, 2022, 9:53 AM | Updated: 9:55 am
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 10: A general view of a baseball on the pitchers mound before a game between t...
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Significant changes are on the horizon for Major League Baseball.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Major League Baseball commissioner’s office’s 11-person competition committee has voted to implement a set of rule changes that will take place at the beginning of the 2023 regular season.

Following years of contemplation, the league will introduce a pitch clock next season, as well as ban defensive shifts and install larger bases.

Per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the commissioner’s office has a majority of seats on the sport’s 11-person competition committee, which was newly formed this year as part of the collective bargaining agreement between players and owners. MLB has six appointees, the Players Association four, and there’s also one umpire, giving the league the power to push through its most recent proposal.

The Players Association voted against banning the shift and implementing a pitch clock, but the votes needed for approval were still met on Friday morning. When the topic of bringing in larger bases came to the table, the vote of approval was unanimous.

Here are some specifics on the rule changes, per Passan’s report:

Pitch Clock: The catcher must be in position when the timer hits 10 seconds, the hitter must be have both feet in the batter’s box and be “alert” at the 8-second mark and the pitcher must start his “motion to pitch” by the expiration of the clock. A violation by the pitcher is an automatic ball. One by the hitter constitutes an automatic strike.

Shift Ban: All four infielders need to be on the infield dirt. Shifting an infielder to play short right field, or simply overshifting three infielders to the right side of the second-base bag, is no longer legal. The position of defensive players can be reviewed – and, if a defense is deemed illegal, the batting team can choose to accept the outcome of the play or take an automatic ball instead.

Larger Bases: The bases will increase from 15 to 18 square inches, with expectations that the larger size allows fewer collisions around the bag as well as slightly shortens the distance between bases.

Speeding up the game of baseball has long been a goal of Major League Baseball, and it appears that 2023 will be the beginning of a new era for America’s pastime.

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