MLB announced three major rule changes for the 2023 season, each of which was approved by a majority vote of the league’s competition committee on Friday.
The changes, according to MLB, are designed to improve safety and the pace of games. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said each new rule had been “thoroughly tested and refined” in the minor leagues for years.
“We’ve conducted thorough and ongoing research with our fans, and certain things are really clear,” said Manfred at a press conference on Friday. “Number 1, fans want games with better pace. Two, fans want more action, more balls in play. And three, fans want to see more of the athleticism of our great players.”
To achieve this, MLB officials voted in favor of three rule changes:
- Pitch Clock
The league will now time pitchers on the mound, requiring that they start the throwing motion to the plate within 15 seconds of each pitch when the bases are empty and 20 seconds when there are runners on-base. A pitcher can disengage with the rubber twice during an at-bat — any more than that will result in a balk. Hitters have to be in the batter’s box within 8 seconds of the start of the clock, and are allowed one timeout per at-bat.
- Shift Ban
Two infielders must be on each side of second base when a pitch is thrown, and each infielder must have both feet on the outer boundary of the infield when the pitcher is on the rubber. Also, infielders can’t switch sides unless there is a substitution.
- Bigger Bases
Starting in 2023, the size of first, second, and third base will increase from 15 inches to 18 inches in what the league says is a move for player safety.
A full explanation of the new rules for 2023 can be viewed at MLB.com.
Not everyone in the Major League is a fan the new rules, however. The Major League Baseball Player’s Association, the collective bargaining group for MLB players, released a statement shortly after the new rules were passed, saying that the players on the competition committee voted against both the pitch clock and the shift ban.