The MLB has announced that the league will make a huge leap forward in 2021, with its first game being played in 2023. The team-operated minor leagues are undergoing major changes to speed up games and increase scoring significantly from current levels.
The “mlb pitch clock rules 2022” is a change that has been implemented in the minor leagues. The new rule will shave 20 minutes off the length of a game. This is set to be introduced in the MLB in 2023.
2:44 PM EST ET
ESPN’s Jeff Passan
- MLB insider on ESPN
- Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of Sports’ Most Valuable Commodity,” “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of Sports’ Most Valuable Commodity”
The installation of a tight pitch clock throughout Minor League Baseball has trimmed 20 minutes off game timings while having no discernible impact on scoring, paving the way for a clock to be implemented in Major League Baseball in the 2023 season.
The average game duration was 2 hours, 39 minutes for the first 132 minor league games, which featured a 14-second clock with the bases empty, an 18-second clock with runners on, and fines for pitchers and batters who ran afoul of it. Games lasted an average of 2 hours, 59 minutes in a control group of 335 games played without the clock to start the season, which was similar to the 3-hour, 3-minute average in 5,000-plus non-clock games played throughout the 2021 season.
Over the course of the three-day sample, more than a third of minor league games with the clock concluded in less than 2 hours, 30 minutes, with one game ending in 1 hour, 59 minutes and another in 2 hours. Twenty-seven percent of games took place between 2:30 and 2:40 p.m., about three times as many as in 2021. Only 15% of games lasted more than three hours, compared to 52% of games without a timer previous season.
The scoring was relatively level, with 5.13 runs and 16.1 hits per game in the non-time test set and 5.11 runs and 15.9 hits in the clock games.
“It appeared like it achieved precisely what MLB wants the game to look like in a few years,” said Henry Davis, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ high-A affiliate’s No. 1 overall choice in the 2021 draft and a catcher. “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had playing, apart from playing in the College World Series or unusual games.”
MLB has experimented with pitch clocks for over a decade in an attempt to discover the secret sauce for speeding up games, quickening the tempo of play, and without drastically altering the run-scoring environment. MLB may have struck the balance that will come in big league stadiums next season and address average game lengths that swelled to 3 hours, 11 minutes last season with a quicker pitch timer, a restriction on the number of times a pitcher can walk off, and ball-strike fines for hitters and pitchers. MLB games have lasted 3 hours and 10 minutes so far in 2022, but that figure is likely to rise as the weather warms and scoring rises.
MLB was granted the option to unilaterally apply new regulations with a 45-day prior notice under the new collective bargaining agreement. Previously, the league had to notify the MLB Players Association one year in advance of any on-field adjustments. While a pitch clock in the major leagues is not planned for 2022, the shortened window will enable MLB to collect data throughout the minor league season and develop major league regulations based on what it learns.
“The early results with the timer in place have been encouraging, both in terms of the tempo and rhythm of games as well as the style of play,” Morgan Sword, the MLB executive vice president in charge of the rule revisions, said.
Since MLB initially experimented with a pitch clock during the Arizona Fall League in 2014, the 14- and 18-second timings are the most harsh. Umpires assessed 259 infractions in the first 132 games using it, including 73 automatic strikes for batters who were not ready when the clock reached the 9-second mark and 186 automatic balls for pitchers who failed to deliver pitches before the time expired.
The combination of the clock and the limitations of two pick-off throws or mound step-offs per game (with a third resulting in an automatic balk call) has also resulted in an 18 percent increase in stolen-base attempts, with nearly three attempts per game with the timer in place compared to 2.51 attempts per game last season without the timer. Last season, major league clubs attempted 1.2 stolen bases per game, the fewest since 1964.
“It’s either pitch or pick at 2 seconds. The majority of the players desire to throw “Phoenix Sanders, a reliever with the Tampa Bay Rays, was just promoted from Triple-A to the big leagues. “Hitters who can run are beginning to learn how to pace their swings. We’re trained to keep the ball in our hands, but now we only have a limited amount of time to do it. Hitters may figure it out in the future.”
While Triple-A and Double-A have had 20-second pitch timers since 2018, the low-A California League’s ban on pickoffs and step-offs last season resulted in the most drastic reduction in game timings. The rule was expanded across the minor leagues over the winter as part of a package of changes that included shift limitations (four infielders on the dirt, two on each side of the second-base bag) at all levels except Triple-A, 18-square-inch bases (up from the standard 15 inches), and increased use of the automated ball/strike system (robot umpires).
The combination of a pitch clock and step-off regulations is certainly the most significant rule change to date — and the one that has sparked the most debate. Derek Holland, a former big league pitcher who currently pitches for the Boston Red Sox’s Triple-A club, claimed on Twitter that “we are trying to do much too much to this game,” and that the pitch clock is “a nightmare… and it will only get worse.”
Dr. Mike Sonne, a biomechanist who specializes in muscle exhaustion, noted that he is concerned that a pitch clock may increase pitcher injuries. Pitching injuries were fewer in the California League last season than at all other levels, yet it’s hard to assess a pitch clock’s influence on pitcher health just based on raw injury statistics.
One thing was evident from the early reports this season: the game certainly progressed faster than the clock-free sample this season, while batting averages, home run, strikeout, and walk rates stayed pretty consistent. During a plate appearance, the duration between pitches decreased from 21.5 seconds to 19.7 seconds. The time between hitters was reduced from 43 seconds to 39.7 seconds, inning breaks were reduced from 2 minutes, 39 seconds to 2 minutes, 27 seconds, and pitching changes were reduced from 3 minutes, 16 seconds to 3 minutes and 16 seconds.
Josh Hejka, a reliever with the New York Mets’ high-A club Brooklyn, observed, “It seems like that tempo has risen dramatically.” “There is less dithering and squandering of time.” Hitters and pitchers have a greater sense of urgency, returning to the batter’s box and the mound to throw significantly faster.
“There are a few minor annoyances. Because it restricts their ability to modify their grips on the mound, the pitch clock runs until you start your delivery, not when you come set. The inability to pick off has caused some irritation. There is some dissatisfaction with the complexities, but we must adapt or someone else will step in to take our position.”
Jesse Rogers and Joon Lee of ESPN contributed to this story.
The “mlb pitch clock 2023” is a stage set for the MLB. The league has decided to reduce the time of a minor league game by 20 minutes while scoring nearly same.
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