The Competition Committee will vote on proposed changes to the 2023 rules on Friday

The Competition Committee will vote on proposed changes to the 2023 rules on Friday

The competition committee is set to vote on various proposed rule changes for the 2023 season, report Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal of Athletic. A launch clock, limitations on defensive moves, withdrawal limits, and expanded bases are all set to be officially voted on tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. CST.

As Drellich and Rosenthal note, this seems like a mere formality that all proposed changes will pass. The competition committee was established by mutual agreement between the league and the players’ association during the last round of collective bargaining. This is an 11-person panel designed to vote on potential changes to the rules of the game on the pitch. This committee is made up of six league members, four MLB players and a referee. SNY’s Andy Martino announced in June that the league would be represented by Dick Monfort, John Stanton, Greg Johnson, Tom Werner, Mark Shapiro and Bill DeWitt for this ballot. Players on the panel are expected to be Jack Flaherty, Tyler Glasnow, Whit Merrifield and Austin Slater (with Ian Happ and Walker Buehler as alternates), while Bill Miller will represent the referees.

With MLB appointing the majority of the committee, it is generally expected that the league will be able to push through desired changes with relative ease. (MLB had the unilateral right to change the playing rules under the previous CBA, although it had to wait a full year after formally offering it to the MLBPA in case the union refused to sign an injunction. earlier work). Under the current collective agreement, the committee can implement rule changes 45 days after making a recommendation to the union. This grace period will not be relevant for this set of proposals, which are all focused on 2023 and beyond.

The timing of the vote was unclear, but it seemed like a formality for months that everyone from the pitch clock, shift limitation and bigger bases would be implemented by the start of the season. next. MLB had pushed for all three of those provisions at one point during CBA negotiations this past offseason. The parties eventually agreed to temporarily suspend any changes to the product in the field and focus on broader economic issues, but it seems inevitable since March that these three factors will be on the agenda (and would most likely be approved) for the 2023 campaign. .

Drellich and Rosenthal report the details of the proposed changes. Pitchers would have 15 seconds to start their delivery with no one on base, while they would have 20 seconds to start their move with runners on board. The countdown begins when the pitcher has the ball, the batter and catcher are close to home plate, and all base runners are in proper position. Receivers must be in position with no more than nine seconds remaining on the clock. If the pitcher or catcher violates the layout, an automatic ball is called.

Batters also have a time limit. They must be in the box and “alert the pitcher” with no more than eight seconds remaining on the clock. If unprepared, an automatic hit will be evaluated. (The league also has the power to impose additional discipline on players and/or staff who run around the clock). There are 30 seconds allowed between batters and 135 seconds between innings and pitch changes.

The out limit is also a measure of pace of play. Pitchers are freely allowed to disengage from the rubber twice per plate appearance – whether to throw a pickoff or for any other reason. This resets the clock for that step. A pitcher may kick out a third time, but an automatic refusal is evaluated if the baserunner is not kicked out. Essentially, the disengage rule limits pitchers to two “free” out attempts per batter. After two unsuccessful jumps, the pitcher may again attempt an out, but the base runner would be awarded an automatic base if not ejected. If the runner advances without a ball being put into play – via a refusal, stolen base, wild pitch, etc. – the launcher’s disengagement limit is reset.

The pick limit is intended to incentivize more aggressive base running, at least among the fastest runners. Particularly once a pitcher uses his first two pitches, a base runner can theoretically extend his lead. The third disengage means the runner will not have a clear field, but there will be more flexibility to push the first knowing that another unsuccessful attempt to withdraw is treated as a refusal.

As for shift restrictions, teams would be required to field four players (not including the pitcher and catcher) on the infield. All infielders must have both feet on the ground and two players must be completely on either side of the second base sack. A lag violation results in an automatic ball, unless it occurs on a live ball or a tagged batsman. If the baserunner reaches anyway, play stands. If there is an out recorded, the manager of the batting team decides whether to let the play stand. In most cases they obviously wouldn’t, although there are some situations (i.e. a sacrificed fly) where teams may just accept elimination for the advancement of other base runners. A team’s violation of the shift ban is subject to replay review, while possible timer violations are not.

The league experimented with the possibility of restricting shifts for a period of time in an effort to increase the batting average on balls in play. This included some rather complex and extreme testing in the minor leagues. The Athletic’s Jayson Stark reported in July that MLB was introducing a “pie-sliced” restriction on switching at the Low-A level. Not only did this require two infielders on either side of second base, but it also carved out a restricted area around the bag to prevent infielders from playing deep and just on their side of second base to eliminate the potential hits in the middle. That’s to say not in the proposed rule changes for MLB in 2023, to be clear, but it illustrates that the league could experiment with other defensive restrictions down the line if the initial shift ban does not produce the desired uptick in hits basic.

The bases, meanwhile, would be enlarged from their current 15 square inches to 18 square inches. It’s a small change designed to facilitate more aggressive base running and minimize the risk of collisions when attempting to fly.

Drellich and Rosenthal point to a host of other time restrictions (on mound visits, in-stadium music, defensive timeouts, etc.) that would also come into effect if approved. Athletic’s message is worth a full read for those interested in all the changes that look likely to happen at the majors next season.

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