MLB rule changes: How they could affect the Orioles

MLB will be implementing three major rule changes during the 2023 season and beyond, and there are some controversies surrounding them, in terms of whether or not they are necessary or will benefit the game and its players.

Opinion aside, players must get used to the changes and adapt to them accordingly. This article will look at the major changes in baseball and determine how they could affect different Orioles players.

Pitch Clocks

Goal: To increase pace of play, therefore shortening overall game times.

Description: Between batters, there will be a 30-second time limit. Between pitches, there will be a 15-second clock with no one on base and a 20-second clock with runners on.

An automatic ball will be called if it is violated by a pitcher. For batters, they must be in the box by the eight-second mark. If a batter violates this rule, an automatic strike will be called against the player.

It also limits pitchers to two disengagements (pick-off attempts or step-offs) per batter. This will limit throws to first base, likely increasing stolen bases.

Who it could affect: This will directly affect pitchers the most, especially if they have a slower pace of delivery.

Statcast currently keeps track of pitch tempo, which is the time between pitch releases. The new pitch clocks measure time from when the pitcher receives the throw from the catcher to when the pitcher starts his delivery.

The tempo that Statcast measures is about six seconds slower than what the pitch timer is measuring (someone with a 20-second tempo would equate to about 14 seconds on the pitch clocks).

A pitcher like Cole Irvin, who has one of the quickest pitch tempos in the league, will adjust easier than others. Irvin has a tempo around 14.1 seconds with no one on base, which equates to an 8.1 timer equivalent. This leaves him with plenty of time with a 15-second timer.

On the other hand, Cionel Pérez has the slowest pitch tempo on the team, with 22.5 seconds being his average with no runners on base (16.5 seconds on the new clocks). He will have to adjust his pace of throwing to be much quicker, as he will have to drop his time by about 1.5 seconds.

Another pitcher on the Orioles that may be of some trouble with the new clocks is Kyle Gibson. With no one on base, he works at a decent speed, but with runners on, the veteran righty likes to take his time.

Gibson averages a 25.3 second tempo with runners on, which is about 19.3 seconds on the new pitch clocks. This is cutting it really close with the 20 seconds allotted between pitches with men on.

One of the biggest worries would be pitchers rushing and becoming wild just to get a pitch off in time. Hopefully, spring training will give pitchers like Pérez and Gibson enough time to adjust.

In a more indirect way, runners will also be affected, as they don’t have to worry about multiple pick-off attempts. Cedric Mullins and Jorge Mateo could have even higher stolen base totals than last season (34 and 35, respectively), and we could see some new faces stealing more bags this year.

Austin Hays and Gunnar Henderson both have great sprint speed. The Orioles could potentially have four threats on the base paths this year, thanks to the new rule.

Larger Bases

Goal: Give players more room to avoid collisions. Also, to increase stolen bases and in-game action.

Description: The bases were originally 15 square inches but have been changed to 18 square inches. The distance between first to second base and second to third base has been reduced by 4.5 inches.

Who it could affect: Combining the bigger bases with the pitch clock rules, our top stolen base guys are going to have elite years on the base paths.

Considering this is a game of inches, the shortened distance on the base paths could allow quite a few more runners to be safe when swiping a bag. Mullins and Mateo could steal around 40 to 50 bases, which is extremely rare in this era of baseball.

Defensively, Ryan Mountcastle will likely be the most affected Oriole. He will have more room to receive bad throws from the infield, leading to more outs. This will probably not be a huge difference but could save the Orioles some throwing errors.

Shift Restrictions

Goal: To increase batting average on balls in play (BABIP), allow infielders to showcase athleticism and bring back more traditional outcomes on batted balls.

Description: There can only be two infielders on either side of second base when a pitch is thrown. There must be a minimum of four players with their feet on the outer boundary of the dirt.

Who it could affect: This will affect the O’s lefty bats the most, as most defensive shifts had someone in shallow right field. Hitters like Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins, Gunnar Henderson and Adam Frazier will all benefit positively from this ban.

There will still be some form of the shift, but it will be much less drastic this year. These lefties will see new defensive alignments than prior years that will bump up their batting averages.

Which rule change do you think will impact the Orioles this season? Let us know in the comments below! And make sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter, and use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content!

Like Dakota’s content? Follow her on Twitter – @oriolesko

One thought on “MLB rule changes: How they could affect the Orioles

  1. So now the left fielder moves to shallow right, with almost the same alignment. Only difference, now to beat the shift, instead of bunting for a hit, the lefties will have to slap or drive the ball to left field!!


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