There will be some rule changes when Major League Baseball begins its 2023 season.
The league’s competition committee approved a pitch clock and voted to ban the shift as part of the new rules. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it was not a unanimous decision, as “player representatives voted no on the pitch clock.”
The pitch clock, which will be 15 seconds when the bases are empty and 20 seconds with runners on, has been used in the minor leagues and has decreased how long the game takes to be played. Here is the rule, via Passan:
The catcher must be in position when the timer hits 10 seconds, the hitter must have both feet in the batter’s box and be “alert” at the 8-second mark and the pitcher must start his “motion to pitch” by the expiration of the clock. A violation by the pitcher is an automatic ball. One by the hitter constitutes an automatic strike.
This certainly will take some time for major league players to get used to considering they’ve played their entire careers without something like this. For players coming up through the farm system, it could be something they use to their advantage.
Banning the shift is a move fans should be eager to see how it plays out. The league essentially is telling teams to not play defense, and the rule states that the four infielders must have their feet on the dirt, not the outfield grass. The shift added strategy to the batter, who had to decide whether to drop down a bunt or figure out how to hit the ball to the opposite side of the field. It eliminates defense to the team on the field.
The team in the field also can be reviewed, and if they are deemed to be in violation of the rule, the batting team either can be awarded a ball or play as if nothing happened.
Other rule changes include larger bases and limiting pickoff attempts.
These all will take place next season, and it certainly will be an adjustment for many players.