KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When fans watch MLB games this season, they’ll notice new rules.
After years of testing in the minor leagues, new rules will be implemented in the majors this month.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred says fans have been the league’s “guiding star” in developing the new rules. He believes the rules speed up the game, create more action and put the players’ athleticism on display.
The first rule implements a pitch timer.
Pitchers have 30 seconds to compose themselves between hitters. Umpires allow pitchers 15 seconds between pitches when there are no runners on base and 20 seconds when there are runners on base.
If a pitcher violates the pitch timer, umpires award batters a ball.
Hitters have to be alert in the batter’s box by the time the pitch timer reaches eight seconds. If they’re not alert, the umpire gives batters an automatic strike.
This rule should speed up the pace of play.
The second new rule prohibits defensive shifts.
Teams are no longer allowed to place three defenders on one side of second base — shortstops were often placed on the right side of second base against left-handed batters.
This rule should lead to more balls in play.
The third rule increases the size of the first, second and third bases. The bases are 3 square inches larger and 4.5 inches closer to one another, which should allow for more steals.
KSHB 41 News is going 360 on the topic. By offering multiple perspectives, you can decide whether the rules are a good fit or not.
In this story, you’ll hear from:
- Dennis Leonard, a Royals Hall of Fame pitcher
- Dalton Moats, a current pitcher with the Kansas City Monarchs
- Jayden Hasam, a baseball player at Ewing Marion Kauffman High School
- Max Rieper, the editor-in-chief at Royals Review
- Kemet Coleman, a lifelong Royals fan
The right-handed pitcher spent more than 10 years on the mound in Kauffman Stadium during the 1970s and 1980s.
While he never cared how long games lasted, he believes pitchers will have a more difficult time adjusting to the new rules, like the pitch timer.
“When a pitcher’s doing good, you want to get the ball and throw it," Leonard said. "But on the flip side, sometimes things are not going quite the way you want them to, and sometimes you gotta back off a little bit and relax a little bit and compose yourself."
In his opinion, all the new rules benefit the offensive side of the game.
“You’re looking at bigger bases, so the bang-bang play at second base, now instead of being called out, you might be safe,” he said.
Ultimately, Leonard believes the new rules keep the core of the game he loves intact.
“Baseball is baseball. The game is still going to be the same," he said. "They’re just going to play with a little faster pace.”
The left-handed pitcher graduated from Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Missouri. For years, he played within the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
MLB tested the new rules in the minors during Moats’ time in the league. He admits the umpires called him for violating the pitch timer.
“One time I got called into the game, and before I even threw the first pitch, I got hit with the 15 seconds violation,” Moats said.
He understands the desire to speed up the game and add energy but doesn’t think a pitch clock is the best approach, saying it affects the intricacies of pitching.
“There’s no time for error, no room for error," he said. "It really can hurt and be detrimental to the team both ways.”
This season, Moats will play for the Kansas City Monarchs in the American Association of Professional Baseball. This league will also institute a pitch clock beginning in 2023.
The 17-year-old grew to love baseball through the Royals' RBI program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities). The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City now runs the program.
Hasam plays baseball for Ewing Marion Kauffman School — named after the man who established the Kansas City Royals.
“Bigger bases definitely provide a lot of safety for a runner who’s diving headfirst, who has more space to steal and grab the bag,” Hasam said.
As for the pitch timer, Hasam believes it’ll have more of an impact on pitchers than batters.
“Batters, I don’t think it’s as tough, but I think it’s harsh on the pitchers,” he said.
For the past 10 years, Max Rieper’s written for Royals Review, an online blog and forum about the Royals. He’s been editor-in-chief for eight years.
He points out the pitch timer has shortened the average MLB game by 25 minutes during spring training.
“It creates a little tension,” he said. “I think you notice that immediately.”
Rieper says prohibiting the defensive shift should benefit Royals players like Salvador Perez and Vinnie Pasquantino who have a tendency to pull the ball toward right field.
And when it comes to larger bases, he says he immediately thought of one Royals player who will likely benefit: Bobby Witt Jr.
“He is the fastest guy in baseball right now, so I think he could have a big year with stolen bases,” Rieper said.
The Kansas City native wrote a song celebrating the Royals’ success in 2015 titled “Straight Outta Kauffman.”
Coleman says he's eager to attend a game this season with the new rules in effect.
“I think it (the pitch clock) will be real exciting, especially seeing the players adjust to it at first,” he said.
The musician has always enjoyed watching the subtleties of games but gives MLB credit for adapting and implementing new rules.
“I’m not necessarily a purist,” he said. “I think times change and people change and the game of baseball has to adjust with it. I’m proud of them for taking that giant step. I think it’s a big deal.”
As part of KSHB 41 News' commitment to providing context and depth in our reporting, we've excited to share our latest project, which we're calling 360. This project takes stories and topics that our communities are talking about and explores different perspectives on the issue. You can be a part of the process by e-mailing your ideas and thoughts to us at email@example.com.