Thursday, March 14, 2019

MLB To Implement Rule Changes

While they haven't been made official, reports are that Major League Baseball will implement a handful of rules changes. Some of them will not happen until the 2020 season, while some will go into effect this season.

Here are the rule changes that will take place this season...

1. Mound visits will be reduced from six to five per game.

I don't remember the six visit rule having an effect on a single game last season. I'm sure it did, but not enough to care.

2. Commercial breaks will be 20 seconds shorter than last season.

This is another change that doesn't move me at all. I'm not a very patient person but I can wait 20 more seconds if necessary. As long as players have enough time to warm up before an inning then I don't care.

3. There will be a new 24 hour voting period.

Previously fans had one long voting period, but this season will be a little different. There will still be that longer vote, but at the end of that the top three at each position will then enter a 24 hour voting period that will determine the starter for the All Star game.

This change is all about Major League Baseball getting the opportunity for more traffic to their website, and to get teams to be more active in their own advertising and social media presense. That's it. I see no other reason for this change.

4. A prize pool of $2.5 million will be created for the Home Run Derby, with $1 million of it going to the winner.

I like this rule change as it gives players, particularly those that make at or near the league minimum, a real incentive to join the derby. I say "real" because I learned that previously players only had their cost of travel and hotel covered, along with tickets to the derby and All Star game.

I think there's a much better chance that we see more stars in this contest, making it much more interesting. Which will not only be good for those watching it, but will make it much more marketable for the league itself. A very nice win-win.

5. There will be a real trade deadline this season on July 31st.

In the past players could be dealt after that date as long as they cleared waivers, but this time around it doesn't matter. No trades after July 31st... period.

This is the most significant rule change happening this season, and I'm surprised it's happening right away. What this has done is make the offseason much more important as teams can not count on smaller offseason additions to fix roster issues. Like the Yankees being able to add Andrew McCutchen when Aaron Judge's return from injury was full of questions such as "when will it happen" and "how will he return". So teams will have to go into the season already having backup plans in case of something like that.

The rule change also makes the July 31st deadline so much more exciting. I don't think there will be more sellers, as a team that has a chance at the postseason is unlikely to give up that shot. However, I see better returns for those that do decide to sell, as more contending teams will be in on those players made available. A team like the Astros can't sit back and hope a team like the Tigers finally decide to sell a big-time guy like Justin Verlander on August 31st. If the Astros think they'll need a pitcher they have to move now and deal with more competition for a certain guy.

Now for the rule changes that won't take effect until next year...

1. Position players will not be eligible to pitch unless one of the following things happen...

  • a game goes into extra innings
  • a player has pitched at least 20 innings and started 20 games at a position or DH, and thus can be labeled by the team as a "two way" player (think Shohei Ohtani)
  • the run difference in a game is at least eight runs
I had no idea that this was a problem at all. I guess this is a way to get relievers more work, but I can't imagine any general manager thinking "nah, we don't need another reliever, just have the worst position player pitch."

I guess I can add this one to the "who cares" pile.

2. Rosters will expand to 26 players, with a maximum of 13 pitchers. And instead of rosters expanding to 40 in September, they will only go to 28 with no more than 14 pitchers.

Any rule that creates more jobs at the Major League level is a good in to me. Teams can sure as hell afford to pay one more player (then two more in September to the end of the season) a year.

This will also make things easier for managers, as they will have more options for their starting lineup and for making substitutions during the game. Imagine if this rule was on the books now... the Yankees would not have to possibly put one of Luke Voit or Greg Bird in AAA, as they probably don't want a first base-only guy on the bench along with Romine, LeMahieu*, and Wade.

*I'm preparing for Tulowitski opening the season at shortstop, with Andujar at third base and Torres at second.

3. Pitchers will have to face at least three batters, unless they finish the inning.

It makes a manager's job more difficult, as they can't count on a guy for a single batter. Sure, if there's already two outs a manager can go to a one-out specialist, but there's the risk that if their specialist fails that reliever will have to face at least one more hitter that they're not specialized for.

Although I think this rule is unnecessary, I do like that pitchers that can face more than one type of hitter (aka "non-specialists" like a LOOGY) will have more value and thus are more likely to get a job. It's like having a guy on a 12-man basketball team that's only there because he's good at shooting free throws, instead of a player that can be put into a game to help the team during a live ball. In other words the better player gets the job.

I read somebody on Twitter say that some of these rules will create more offense. I'm not totally on board with that being true, but I can see what he's saying. The issue I have with that thinking is that he said that as if it's a bad thing. Sure, I enjoy seeing dominant pitching performances, but I understand that such a fan is more of the "die hard" nature. And "die hard" fans are not going anywhere. They didn't walk away from the game after there was a strike in the mid 90s, and they're not going to walk away from the game now. Major League Baseball, just like any other league, is after the casual fan. And casual fans 1. do not want to be bored with more slow periods during a game and 2. typically want to see more runs scored.

If a rule change turns out to be a negative I think MLB will change back, or fix what didn't work. But the bottom line is I can't think of anything they can do to keep me from watching, and I'm definitely not alone there. So they can keep throwing crap at the wall to see what sticks. Besides, it's not like they're hard up for money, anyway.


  1. Why the last rule about pitchers having to face 3 batters?? So we can't be have matchups we want? This is just stupid. This will just lead to fake injuries to pull a pitcher. You want to speed up the game stop having 13 minute commercial breaks.

    1. Supposed to speed up the game, rather than have one batter face one hitter 19 times in a game


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