MLB to see rule changes in action on Opening Day

Key rule changes include pitch timer, shift restrictions, larger bases

EVAN CHARNEY, Evergreen reporter

It is Opening Day for Major League Baseball and this will be the first season with the new rule implementations. These rules have been added to improve the game’s competitiveness, pace of play and safety of players. The key rule changes for this season include the introduction of the pitch timer, shift restrictions and larger bases.

The most prominent rule change is the implementation of the pitch timer. The purpose of this rule is to improve the pace of play and attract a larger audience of baseball fans.

With this rule, pitchers now have a limited amount of time to throw a pitch. They have 15 seconds to throw a pitch if there are no runners on base and 20 seconds when there are one or more runners on.

The pitch timer helped reduce game time in the minor leagues by 25 minutes during the 2022 season, according to

If a pitcher does not throw a pitch within the allotted time, the batter is awarded a ball. If the batter is not set in the batter’s box before eight seconds are left on the clock, then the batter is given a strike. Hitters are allowed one timeout for each plate appearance. Pitchers are allowed to attempt a pickoff or step off twice per batter and any violation of this will result in a balk where any runners on base advance one base.

After being tested in the minor leagues, this limit led to a 26% increase in stolen base attempts according to

The pitch timer is the most controversial of the new rule implementations, with players, coaches and fans having various opinions.

“We’re going to be ready now … It’s going to keep everybody locked in,” said Yankees shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa per Bryan Hoch.

While players who have experienced the change in play firsthand are starting to adapt to the faster pace of play, fans are still not sold on the concept.

Carlos Murrieta, a WSU senior double majoring in broadcast production and public relations, said, “If you don’t like baseball when it’s played for three hours, then you’re not going to like it when it’s trimmed only about 30 minutes.”

Another rule change causing a splash in the MLB is the new shift restrictions. Before, infielders could move to one side of the field depending if the hitter has a strong tendency to hit to the left or right side, often influenced by which side they bat from. With this new rule, two infielders must be present on each side of second base when the pitch is thrown. Infielders must have both feet touching the infield dirt when the pitcher is on the mound.

The purpose of this rule is to promote infielders’ athleticism and make the game more entertaining for fans. Studies found during testing that this rule both increased batting average and decreased strikeouts, according to

The last rule worth noting is the increased size of first, second and third base. Each base size increased from 15 inches to 18 inches.

The MLB hopes that increased base sizes will improve the safety of players and reduce the number of injuries on the basepaths involving sliding or player collisions. After being tested in the minor leagues in 2022, studies found that this change reduced player injuries near the bases by 13% according to

While the main purpose of this change is to increase player safety, MLB hopes to promote competitiveness and players stealing more bases as opposed to hitting for power. This will ultimately bring back some aspect of “small ball,” or hitting for contact, which has been overshadowed by the age of the home run.

The implementation of these rules aims to boost fan engagement with the sport, make baseball more entertaining and improve player safety in the league. While the 2023 season will be the first year with this new set of regulations, fans can expect them to remain in place for the foreseeable future.