New to Major League Baseball this season, the pitch clock has done its job in making MLB games quicker and more exciting.
The pitch clock is simple. The pitcher has 15 seconds to throw the next pitch when no runners are on base. When runners are on base, pitchers are given 20 seconds to throw the next pitch. Batters must be inside the batter’s box with eight seconds left. If the pitcher violates the clock, an automatic ball is awarded to the batter. If the batter violates the clock, then an automatic strike is awarded to the pitcher.
While numbers for the regular season have not been widely available, game times from this year’s spring training have shown the pitch clock is working so far. Last season’s MLB regular season games lasted an average of three hours and three minutes. This year’s spring training games lasted 28 minutes shorter at two hours and 35 minutes.
Baseball, especially MLB, has long been criticized for how long it takes to complete a game. I was also a critic of this. I have preferred college baseball for a few years now. It feels like a much faster-paced game with more offense. While MLB games have not necessarily seen an uptick in runs scored or batting average, the games are quicker. The new rules have no doubt helped me to be more engaged with the game.
The change also hasn’t been a massive change for players, as there isn’t more than one violation per game currently. Players have adjusted quickly and the transition has been smooth.
The MLB has found a happy medium between keeping the tradition of the game and not going overboard. Personally, I think purists that are upset about this change need to accept that there are better ways to play the game than what they grew up with, and the pitch clock is one of them.
Another beneficial change the MLB has introduced is that pitchers can only come off of the mound twice in one at bat. In some games, pitchers would come off the mound multiple times in an effort to get a pick off at first base. If it was a pitcher on the away team, you would possibly hear boos from the crowd. Personally, I could not stand this part of baseball. It slowed the game down a lot and put the runner at a disadvantage.
In just this year’s spring training, stolen base attempts jumped from 1.6 to 2.3 per game, and success rate has jumped from 71.3% to 77.1%.
Despite games going more quickly, with more action on the basepaths, scoring and batting averages are actually staying about the same. In the current regular season, there have been an average of 4.57 runs per game per team and a league batting average of 0.245. Last year’s regular season had 4.28 runs a game per team, so this might seem to be a big change, but overall the league has been sporadic with this. The league hasn’t averaged more than five runs in a season since 2000. The batting average is a slight improvement over the 0.243 batting average last year.
Overall, the league has hit a grand slam of shortening games without sacrificing the integrity of the game.