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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

8/15/2020 : Ok I’ll Say It 😜

Let me preface this posting by saying that in my prior day’s in the corporate world I was known as an innovator ... one who was open to change things. I was more than willing to evolve whether it be by being somewhat of a testing ground for recently released software upgrades, pioneering the scheduling of work from home days for my team, hiring team members who lived beyond the capacity of driving to the office each day or re tooling of methodologies and structure. I’ve never been one that felt that “standing still” was the best way of “moving forward” ... by pure definition of each phrase in both words and action 🤓 ... guess that makes me a progressive eh 😁.

That being said I like the new MLB rules being used this year. With the current collective bargaining agreement ( CBA ) coming to a close after the 2021 season and the bitterness/distrust already displayed between the player’s union and league management in negotiating the terms for this year’s short season any opening points of consideration in the upcoming talks that have somewhat of a new history are at the least starting points of conjecture.

I also never had issue with what some believed to be “softening” of the game like the slide rules now in place for baserunners going into second or home plate. To me that’s just false bravado. The very athletic slide angle that Roman Quinn took to score the winning run last night wouldn’t have been there under the previous rules as catcher Wilson Ramos would have been further back to receive the throw and in place for plate blocking mode. It’s even likely in old school baseball that Quinn would have been held at third base by the coach. I’ve never understood as well those who thought a “phantom tag” of second base or what’s known as an “In the area” allowance on at double play turn by an infielder in order to avoid contact from an oncoming baserunner was better than today’s standards where the fielder actually has to catch the baseball on the base to record the out ... perhaps that’s just me 🤪.

So without further delay ... I like the DH rule, the extra innings runner at second rule, the seven inning doubleheader rule, the three batter minimum rule and the expanded roster limits. I’ve seen four of those five in play in the minors prior to this year so perhaps my thoughts are persuaded by more of a history than most.

The DH :

I’ve already detailed that in the past five seasons the art of the bunt, which was primarily used by batting pitchers, was so rare an occurrence it was hardly noticeable and that starting pitcher’s have actually decreased in length of innings pitched per start ... a result of a conscious choice of shortening their exposure led by primarily AL teams ...

One can certainly argue that the DH de-emphasizes the importance of pinch hitting ... so far this season there have been 333 pinch hit AB’s which is 1.8 percent of the total AB’s taken. The American League teams have 155 of those AB’s so just 23 less than their NL counterparts with each league at basically the same percentage of use.

In the three prior years ... the pinch hitting AB percentages compared to Total AB’s :

2019 - MLB 2.9 % - AL - 1.3 % ... NL 4.5 %

2018 - MLB 2.9 % - AL - 1.4 % ... NL 4.4 %

2017 - MLB 2.9 % - AL - 1.5 % ... NL 4.3 %

So yes the frequency of using a pinch hitter in the NL was higher but the overall percentage of use is still relatively minuscule in comparison to total AB’s ... pinch hitting doesn’t seem to have a great impact by the numbers 🤷‍♂️

The Extra Innings Rule :

We all remember those classic ballgames of times past when they played far into the night deadlocked with multiple extra frames ... but if we are telling the truth the majority of us read about them or saw highlights the next day rather than watch them till completion.

There’s nothing like the tension and anticipation in a game where the potential winning run is in scoring position ... that’s one of the beauties of extra innings ... the feeling of being on the edge. The placed runner at second base brings that to light right away rather than the prolonged struggle ... it also introduces immediate manager strategy decisions of whether to use a pinch runner, put down a sacrifice bunt ( albeit not done often ) or pitch around hitters ... I don’t see the downside ... again maybe just me 🥴

The Seven Inning Doubleheaders :

Older fans harken to the days when doubleheaders were included as intended parts of the schedule ... we haven’t seen that in years. Perhaps those could come back to fruition if they were seven inning ventures. Travel and off days are always seemingly points of consideration in CBA negotiations, scheduling double headers over the course of a full season may be advantageous in both regards ... having them be seven innings doesn’t appreciably lengthen the time at the ballpark when compared to the traditional type of year’s past. Seven inning games also increase the urgency of each inning ... it gives games somewhat the feel that extra innings do ... just saying sometimes less is more 🧐.

The Three Batter Minimum :

I’m not as keen on this one but I don’t hate it either. There’s a built in exception to the rule in regards to closing out an inning which punts the three batter minimum so strategic matchup changes ( lefty on lefty, etc. ) can still occur somewhat. Beyond that a new strategy is introduced where a “specialist” pitcher has to have a broader scale ... the requirements of facing three batters makes managers think further ahead than in times past ... it keeps the game rolling along as well ... to me that’s not a bad thing.

Roster Size :

The Union and MLB settled at 28 for the final roster size to finish the season. Without the pandemic hitting us it was gonna be 26 ... it’s my belief that setting the rosters at 28 going forward with a maximum of 15 pitchers would be a good thing for both reaching a new CBA agreement with the Union and the game itself. I haven’t seen an appreciable lengthening of games by the expanded rosters this season ... in fact nine inning contests are averaging 3 hours, 6 minutes ... it was 3 hours, 5 minutes last season. Just sayin 🤷‍♂️

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️


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