Explaining pitch clock, defensive shifts, other MLB rule changes


Some new rule changes will be hitting MLB for the 2023 season.

After recent experiments in the minor leagues, there will be three new rules in the upcoming MLB season that are aimed to improve the pace of games, intensity and safety at the highest level of the sport.

“The rule changes … have been thoroughly tested and refined for years in the minor leagues,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Feb. 1. “Each of these rules have been tested in approximately 8,000 minor league games dating back to last season, which is the equivalent of 3 1/2 complete major league seasons."

So what are the new changes, and how will games and players be impacted? Here are the new MLB rule changes to expect:

What are the new MLB rules for 2023?

1. Pitch clock

In an effort to increase the pace of play, there will be a 30-second clock implemented between batters.

Between pitches, a 15-second timer will be turned on when the bases are empty and a 20-second timer will be used when runners are on base.

2. Defensive shift limits

The team on defense must have at least four players on the infield, with at least two infielders completely on either side of second base.

3. Bigger bases

The bases will increase from 15 inches square to 18 inches square. Home plate will remain the same.

How has the pitch clock affected play?

The pitch clock has reduced the average game time in MiLB by about 26 minutes, according to MLB.

How have defensive shift limits affected play?

This adjustment is meant to increase the batting average of balls in play and allow infielders to show off their athletic abilities.

There has also been an increase in stolen-base attempts with a better success rate.

How have bigger bases affected play?

From a safety standpoint, bigger bases give players more room to compete and avoid collisions. Especially for first base, fielders will benefit from the extra space while receiving throws. 

The bigger bases can impact the stolen base success rate with a 4.5-inch reduction in the distance between first and second base and between second and third base.

It will also limit players from over-sliding and losing contact with the bag.

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