Following a recent meeting of Major League Baseball’s Executive Council, the league informed the Competition Committee on Friday that it will not be making any new proposals prior to the offseason, as was first reported by Sports Illustrated.
What that means, in real terms, is that the rule changes that were put in place for 2023 will not be altered for the upcoming postseason.
With the new rules having created a crisper and -- judging by a significant attendance rise -- more popular product, the league is reluctant to slow things back down for the most-watched games of the year. Especially with so much statistical evidence that players have long since adjusted to the new rules environment.
Though the pitch timer has reduced the average nine-inning game time by 25 minutes (from 3 hours, 4 minutes in 2022 to 2:39 through the same number of games this season), the average time for nine-inning games has actually crept up slightly as players have adapted:
While some players are in favor of adding more time to the timer between pitches, there is no statistical evidence that the 15/20 rule, as written, is not sufficient time. On average, pitchers have had anywhere from 6.5 to 7.8 seconds remaining on the timer when going into their motions:
Average Time Remaining on Timer on Pitch Delivery
- 6.5 seconds with bases empty.
- 7.4 seconds with runners on base.
- 6.9 seconds between batters.
- 7.8 seconds after innings breaks/pitching changes.
Pitch timer violations, meanwhile, have tailed off considerably as the season has progressed. In the first batch of 100 games this season, there was an average of 0.87 violations per game total between the two teams. In the most recent batch of 100 games, there were just 0.24 violations -- or less than one every four games. For the full season, 65% of games have had zero violations, and last Friday, Aug. 25, was the first day of the 2023 season in which none of the games played had a violation.
Will a quicker pace rob October of some of its magic? Not if history is any indication. Arguably the most famous at-bat in postseason history was Kirk Gibson’s home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. When MLB Network overlaid the current pitch timer over video of Gibson’s home run earlier this season, both pitcher and hitter were within the allotments of the pitch timer rules, with the exception of Eckersley making a third and fourth pickoff attempt.