Baseball is one of the most difficult sports to play because of how minute the details are. Whether it is a player learning mechanics or someone who is trying to make decisions, there are so many oddities and different data points to discover.
With several rules changes, it figures that the MLB team stats will look differently because certain players will get certain skill sets back. The thought is that there will be more base hits and a greater emphasis on small balls.
A number of the sport’s elements will be influenced by the rules changes Major League Baseball, and the players association agreed to. Here is how those will impact players, managers, and front offices.
Timing Of Events
Both pitchers and batters were struggling with the new timing rules. Pitchers have 15 seconds to deliver with no runners on base, or 20 seconds if a runner is on base, or they will be assessed a ball. [The hitter must be ready after eight seconds, or they will be assessed a strike.
There are so many traditions in baseball, and one of those is how hitters prepare themselves to hit. That may mean crossing the plate to form a cross, tapping and chatting with the catcher, or shutting one’s eyes.
But those routines will have to change in order to be ready in eight seconds. So some players will have a greater adjustment to the new timing rules.
The timing rules are working because the games have been quicker. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported a spring training game in 2022 lasted an average of 3 hours and 1 minute. So far, in 2023, that average is down to 2:36.
Other Areas Impacted
The game itself will look a lot different, too. The ban on infield shifts and the pitch clock is all geared toward more action. So far, those rules are doing their job.
The batting average on balls in play (BABIP) has risen 23 points to .258. The strikeout rate has slightly decreased from 23.9% to 23.1%. The scoring has bumped up from 10.6 runs per game to 11.0 runs per game.
There are also bigger bases, which means a shorter – albeit slightly – distance to travel for runners. Some thought that would lead to more stolen bases, and they were right. Stolen base attempts per game were up by 0.8 from last spring training to this spring.
What Does It Mean?
Analytics are still a big part of the game. The math is still the same: a home run means more than anything else, and the penalty of a strikeout is still a considerate risk.
But players will be rewarded if they swing on top of a ball and ground it to their pull side. There will be more base hits, leading to more opportunities for the offense.
That is where the shorter bases will factor in, and teams can play station to station a little more. That is how Miami Marlins general manager Kim Ng has constructed her roster.
The Marlins traded for American League batting champion Luis Arraez and have plenty of speed and contact guys. They also have Jorge Soler and Garrett Cooper as powerful bats to spread throughout. But it is clear Ng sees the new rules as a way to capitalize on roster construction.
For up-and-coming players, there is a greater value on speed moving forward. So much of baseball has been about getting bigger and stronger to generate greater velocity when making contact with the ball, but that is no longer the sole factor.
It is important for players to be well-rounded in their skill sets because every element of their game can be used. It is a great revelation for younger levels, especially how high school teenagers mimic those they admire.
Those coaches will be able to breathe a sigh of relief as what they have been teaching still matters, and those who listen to their coaches and personal trainers will remain on track for the next level.
Hopefully, for some, that means that they will be utilized and helpful to the best league in baseball.