Baseball Pace of Play Rules
In recent years, Major League Baseball (MLB) has instituted some new rules to try and make games go faster. These rules are known as “pace of play” rules. MLB wants to speed up the games to attract a younger audience, as younger baseball fans often do not enjoy longer games as much as shorter ones. Read on to learn more about the pace of play rules in baseball.
The pace of play rules constitute several initiatives that MLB has implemented in recent years to speed up the game and eliminate “dead time” in games. In other words, they aim to get rid of the time during a game where nothing is happening and instead get to the actual action of a game at a faster pace. These rules have emerged over varying times over the past decade, and a few major ones were introduced for the 2023 season.
Below is a list of some of the specific pace of play rules that have been implemented, listed by the year they were introduced:
- 2015: Stricter enforcement of the rule that batters must have one foot inside the batter’s box at all times
- 2016: 30-second timer for mound visits by coaches
- 2019: Two-minute timer in between innings and for pitching changes
- 2019: Limiting teams to five mound visits per game
- 2020: Pitchers must face at least three batters before being substituted
- 2023: Pitch timer added to speed up at-bats and prevent pitchers and batters from stalling
- 2023: Pitchers may only disengage from the pitching rubber for a baserunner twice during a single at-bat
Prior to the rules introduced for the 2023 season, there were not any major penalties for violating pace of play rules. With the pitch clock, however, there are strict penalties that are being enforced.
For pitchers, if they do not begin to deliver their pitch prior to the expiration of the clock (20 seconds with base runners and 15 seconds without), they are charged with an automatic ball. This is the case no matter what the count is, so if they fail to deliver a pitch with a three-ball count, it is an automatic walk.
On the hitter side of it, the batter must be in the box ready for the pitch with no less than eight seconds on the clock. If they are not ready at this time, they are charged with an automatic strike. Similar to pitchers, if this happens with a two-strike count, it will count as an automatic strikeout.
As for the pitcher disengagement rule, if a pitcher disengages twice, and then if they do so a third time and do not get the base runner out, it goes down as an automatic balk.
These rules have been implemented to attract a younger audience and try and get them interested in a faster pace game. For years, the MLB has been dealing with the fact that they have an older average fan age than some of their fellow United States professional sports leagues. For a league to continue to thrive, it must attract younger fans to continue to grow the game for future years. With all of these new pace of play rules, baseball is hoping they have found one of the solutions to their age problem.
Below are some helpful links if you are interested in learning more about some of baseball’s pace of play rules and initiatives.
Similar Rules to Pace of Play Rules
Below is a list of similar rules in baseball to the pace of play rules:
- Pitch Clock Rules
- Batter’s Box Rules
What is pace of play in baseball?
Pace of play in baseball is an initiative that has taken place over the last few years to speed up the pace of MLB games. Some of these rules include a pitch clock, limiting the number of mound visits, and limiting the amount of time between innings. All of these rules aim to make the game go at a faster pace in order to attract a younger audience and eliminate the “dead time” in games.