MLB to adopt pitch clock, bigger bases, shift limits for the 2023 season

NEW YORK — Major League Baseball passed several rules changes on Friday that will go into effect beginning in the 2023 season, including the adoption of a pitch clock, the expansion of the size of bases and a limit on defensive shifts.

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The new rules were adopted after some analytics found that the game of baseball has been drowned out recently, according to The Associated Press.

A committee made up of six ownership-level representatives, four players and an umpire approved multiple decisions, according to ESPN. One of the decisions included a pitch clock for 15 seconds with empty bases, which would increase to 20 seconds if there are runners on bases. The pitch clock will be reset after pickoffs and step-offs.

There will be a limit of two per plate appearance, according to the AP.

“Players live the game — day in and day out. On-field rules and regulations impact their preparation, performance and ultimately, the integrity of the game itself,” the Major League Baseball Players Association said in a statement. “Major League Baseball was unwilling to meaningfully address the areas of concern that players raised.”

According to The New York Times, base sizes will also increase to 18 inches square, an increase of 3 inches, in hopes that it will create fewer injuries as well as encourage more stolen bases.

Defensive alignments must include two fielders on each side of the second base bag with both feet on the infield dirt, ESPN reported.

According to ESPN, the banning of defensive shifts could become a normal occurrence and could prevent defensive play movement in multiple directions. Moving an infielder to play short right field, or simply over-shifting three infielders to the right side of the second base bag, will no longer be legal, the sports network reported.

Disengagements will also be limited with the mound, according to ESPN. Either pickoff move or step-off, the rules will hold pitchers accountable who have a pitch-clock workaround and more stolen bases will be increased as part of MLB’s intention.

ESPN said that each team will also be allowed a sixth mound visit during the ninth inning if it used five mounds during the other eight innings.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said, according to the AP, that he hopes the new rules will help create better baseball and make the game more fun for fans.

“Number one, fans want games with better pace,” Manfred said during a news conference. “Two, fans want more action, more balls in play. And three, fans want to see more of the athleticism of our great players.”

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