Bob and Anthony are the baseball guys on this website, Crossing Broad, but I’m going to take this story.
According to reports from Ken Rosenthal and Jeff Passan and others, Major League Baseball and the Players Association are discussing some rather significant rule changes to America’s pastime.
Writes Rosenthal at The Athletic:
As part of a Jan. 14 proposal to the players’ union on pace of play, baseball suggested a rule requiring pitchers to face a minimum of three batters, sources told The Athletic.
The Major League Baseball Players Association responded last Friday with its own comprehensive proposal that addressed the players’ concerns on competitive integrity and service-time manipulation in multifaceted fashion, sources said. A lowering of a team’s draft position for failing to reach a specified win total in a certain number of seasons is believed to be part of the union’s plan.
A minimum of three batters? Yes. Sign me up.
- A three-batter minimum for pitchers
- A universal designated hitter
- A single trade deadline before the All-Star break
- A 20-second pitch clock
- The expansion of rosters to 26 men, with a 12-pitcher maximum
- Draft advantages for winning teams and penalties for losing teams
- A study to lower the mound
- A rule that would allow two-sport amateurs to sign major league contracts
Let’s take each bullet point one by one, after the jump:
Absolutely. There are too many analytics-driven pitching changes that are just bogging down the back half of games and bringing the action to a grinding halt.
It wouldn’t kill off nuance and strategy entirely, it would just shift the focus to looking at least two more batters down the lineup. This rule would prevent another Wade Miley situation, where the Brewers starter pitched to a single batter in game five of the NLCS.
Universal Designated Hitter
More offense helps the game, allows pitchers to just pitch, and makes each league balanced and fair. Imagine that, the idea of actually having the same rules in the American League and National League.
This should be a no-brainer. I don’t trust anybody who is against the universal DH.
Single trade deadline
You’re adding excitement and raising the stakes by creating a single window instead of doing a waiver and non-waiver deadline.
I would probably do it after the All-Star break, however, if you do add a pre-ASG single trade deadline, it would put more emphasis on teams to focus on preseason free agency, which might help us through the monotony of the current Bryce Harper and Manny Machado nonsense.
20 second pitch clock
I personally don’t care for the pitch clock, but it already exists in the minors and it seems to work fine. Young players coming into the majors are familiar with it.
If you’re gonna do the three-batter minimum to speed up the game a bit and cut down on needless pitching changes, then I don’t think the pitch clock ALSO has to be implemented. One or the other is fine.
No real opinion here. Expanding from 25 to 26 players is fine as long as the pitcher max is capped, because teams would just stuff the bullpen with another lefty.
Draft bonuses and penalties
The explanation via ESPN:
In addition to the universal DH, the MLBPA is interested in changes that would use draft picks to incentivize winning and grant players the ability to earn additional service, which could allow them to hit free agency earlier and theoretically counteract what the union believes is the manipulation of service time by teams.
Low-revenue teams that succeed — whether by finishing above .500 or making the playoffs — would be given greater draft positions or bonus pools under the union’s proposal, according to sources. While the depth of the penalties were not clear, the union suggested teams that lose 90-plus games in consecutive years could be affected negatively in the draft.
So it’s a loose anti-tanking rule and a way to force competitiveness in a non-salary cap league. Not sure I’m on board with something like this. I’d have to see it fleshed out a bit more.
Lowering the mound
They lowered it from 15 inches to 10 inches back in 1968 after a historically low scoring season.
Some medical experts think lowering the mound can help prevent pitcher arm injuries, which is one thing. Lowering the mound flattens out pitches, reduces velocity, and reduces the sharp angles that guys are throwing on breaking balls and related pitches. It’s just another way to tilt the game back towards offense and putting balls in play versus dominant pitching.
This is a Kyler Murray thing.
Right now, every draft contract is a minor league deal, so changing this up would push more multi-sport athletes back towards baseball.
Overall, I think a lot of these ideas make sense. Remember, this is about bringing casual fans back to the game and trying to keep up with the NFL, NBA, and whatever else is popular right now. Old school baseball fans always say “nothing needs to change!”, and maybe it doesn’t, but the idea is to get more than just your eyeballs on a game that younger Americans aren’t connecting with.