When Major League Baseball put in the new three batter minimum rule, the idea was to cut down on the number of pitching changes and reduce the length of games.
Speaking at a recent event, Phillies manager Joe Girardi believes it was the dumbest thing baseball has ever done:
Joe Girardi at @KatzJCC awards ceremony, does not like the minimum 3 hitter rule for bullpen
“If the commissioner is listening, it’s the dumbest rule that we’ve ever put in”
“And from what I saw, the games were not sped up” pic.twitter.com/HysvXhhClY
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) November 5, 2020
“It changes the strategy of the game.”
Well, the point was to avoid having three different pitchers face three different batters in the 8th inning or whatever, which is boring and cumbersome. Of course the strategy was going to change when the rule changed. That goes without saying. The Phillies bullpen was also historically bad, so it’s probably an annoying subject for Girardi, the topic of relief pitchers and a lack of flexibility.
But he’s right, it didn’t seem like the games sped up very much compared to years past. According to Baseball Reference, the average length of a nine inning game in 2020 was three hours and seven minutes, compared to three hours and five minutes last year. And the average number of pitchers used per game this year was 4.43, compared to 4.41 in 2019, so that didn’t really change either.
Keep in mind, this rule was added pre-COVID, so one would think it would stick around, since MLB had been considering it for some time. They might change their minds if they look at the data and feel like not much changed in the departments they were trying to address.