MLB Considers Further Rule Changes, Will Experiment With Minor Leagues

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Rule changes for the 2023 MLB season have already made a dramatic difference.

The advent of the 20-second pitch clock has substantially cut down on game times. Banning over-shifting and increasing the size of the bases also seems to have worked as MLB intended.

Generally, the rules have been a tremendous success. Offense and stolen base attempts are up, game times are down.


Many have enjoyed the changes, with some complaining that games are now too short.

If you’re an MLB fan who’s not happy with all the changes, get ready, because there might be more coming.

The Associated Press reported that the league announced a number of potential rule changes on Tuesday. The new setup will be in place for the Atlantic League, an independent minor league that partners with MLB to test new ideas.

Changes include a “designated pinch runner, ‘double-hook’ designated hitter rule and further limitations on a pitcher’s ability to make pickoff moves,” according to AP.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred new rule changes
NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 27: Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to the media during an announcement between MLB and MGM Resorts International at the Office of the Commissioner on Tuesday, November 27, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB via Getty Images)

What Do These MLB Rule Changes Mean?

The “designated pinch runner” would mean that a bench player would be able to enter the game at any point as a substitute baserunner. And both players would be able to return to the game, even after the sub.

For example, say you have a slow-running catcher who reaches first to lead off an inning. Managers would be able to replace him with a much faster bench player to try and grab a run through speed. The catcher takes over behind the plate again for the next half inning, while the bench player could still be used as a pinch hitter later on.

The “double-hook” rule for the designated hitter is a bit more punishing. If a starting pitcher doesn’t last five innings, the team loses its DH spot. If the starter gets through five, they keep the DH. But if they don’t, the pitcher’s spot has to hit for the remainder of the game.

As for pickoffs, the league instituted a two-disengagement system for 2023. Essentially, pitchers can step off or throw over twice, but if they do so again, they have to pick the runner off or be assessed a penalty.

The Atlantic League will test out a single disengagement system. In theory, that would cut down on game times even further

“We thank the Atlantic League for their continued partnership,” MLB’s vice president of baseball operations Morgan Sword wrote in a statement. “In recent years, the ALPB’s experimental rules have aimed to emphasize athleticism, improved pace of play and other means of giving fans the game they want to see.”

Could Any Of These Alterations Make It To MLB?

Well those are certainly some changes!

The Atlantic League frequently serves as a test ground, with many options eventually falling by the wayside.

The designated hitter change in particular feels like something that has very little likelihood of getting through to MLB. As does the one disengagement rule.

Designated baserunners, however, seems like something the league might want. Faster players running equals more excitement and more scoring.

That said, replacing catchers every time they reach base, for example, might increase game times with a small delay for the substitution.

Maybe none of them will wind up reaching consideration. But it certainly gives more reason to watch the Atlantic League this season.

Written by Ian Miller

Ian Miller is a former award watching high school actor, author, and long suffering Dodgers fan. He spends most of his time golfing, traveling, reading about World War I history, and trying to get the remote back from his dog. Follow him on Twitter @ianmSC

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