Major League Baseball’s (MLB) new rules have shown positive results in the first four days of the 2023 season. According to the latest data, the games have been an average of 30 minutes shorter than last year’s opening weekend, with an average duration of 2 hours and 38 minutes. Additionally, stolen bases have doubled, with an average of 1.4 per game compared to 0.6 last year, while batting averages have increased by 16 percentage points compared to last year’s opening weekend.
The new rules that have been implemented this year include larger bases, shorter pitch clocks, restrictions on defensive shifts, and infielders being required to be within the outer boundary of the infield when the pitcher is on the rubber. These changes mark the most significant rule changes since the pitcher’s mound was lowered from 15 inches to 10 for the 1969 season, and the American League adopted the designated hitter in 1973.
Of these changes, the pitch clock appears to have had the most significant impact on the game’s duration. Games such as Colorado-San Diego have taken only 2 hours and 3 minutes on Sunday. So far, there have been 41 pitch-clock violations in the first 50 games, an average of 0.82.
The new rules have also led to an increase in stolen bases and batting averages. The success rate on steal attempts rose from 67.4% to 85%, while the batting average for nine-inning games increased from .230 over the first four days last year to .246.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed his satisfaction with the early results, saying he was “extremely pleased” with how the changes had impacted the game. Fan reaction to the new rules has also been positive, with the brisker pace and increased action making games more exciting.
However, it’s important to note that the sample size is still small, with only 50 games played out of a scheduled 2,430, or just 2%. Early-season offense can also be affected by weather conditions in the northwest and midwest. Despite these factors, the new rules have undoubtedly shown positive results and made the games more enjoyable for fans. Players have also adapted well to the changes, suggesting that the new rules are here to stay.