A rule change is coming to Major League Baseball this season to improve the pace of play, but it likely won’t do much in the big picture.
The league and the MLB Players Association reportedly came to an agreement on an intentional walk rule that replaces the need to throw four pitches with a dugout signal, ESPN’s Howard Bryant reported Wednesday, citing sources. The rule was proposed in early February, along with an unsuccessful proposal to raise the bottom of the strike zone.
However, it seems unlikely that scrapping four pitches in one game will affect game time much, if at all. When ESPN’s Jayson Stark first reported the two rule proposals, he noted intentional walks are declining, and there were just 932 in 2016 or one every 2.6 games out of 2,430. After the average time of an MLB game rose to about 3 hours, 4 minutes in 2016, the new rule shouldn’t make a huge impact overall.
Still, it won’t affect the outcome of games much, either, as it’s rare that pitchers throw wild pitches on intentional walks. So while the rule probably won’t help the game much, it also won’t hurt it.
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