MLB To Consider Adopting Batter’s Box And Baserunning Rules

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

With the recent implementations of instant replay and Rule 7.13, Major League Baseball has shown a willingness to adapt for competitive and safety reasons.

Much was made of commissioner Bud Selig establishing a pace of game committee that tested various rules in the Arizona Fall League. Among them was the pitch clock, which is expected to be used in the Minors next season but not at the Major-League level.

MLB however may still see new rules in 2015 with one of them requiring hitters to keep one foot in the batter’s box between pitches, according to FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi:

A rule mandating that hitters keep one foot in the batter’s box between pitches, with exceptions that include foul balls, wild pitches, and timeouts being granted.

Morosi also reports a significant change could come with how baserunners slide into second base:

A rule stipulating that runners must slide directly into second base on double plays, as opposed to deviating from their paths with a takeout slide.

Currently, so long as the baserunner is within reach with their hand or foot of second base during their slide, they are permitted to relatively wide off the line in an attempt to break up a double play. While the batter’s box rule would require players to adjust their routines, a new baserunning policy would have a larger impact on the game.

Somewhat difficult double plays may become more routine if an infielder gets the ball early enough and is able to step wide of second base, out of the runner’s reach, to complete the turn.

In order for any new rules to be adopted, the commissioner’s office, teams, and unions for MLB players and umpires would all need to provide their approval.

Staff Writer

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  1. I would definitely be in favor of keeping the batters in the boxes. They can get the sign while staying in the box and that would cut down on the time between pitches. You do that and enforce the rule that pitchers have 20 seconds to throw the next pitch after receiving the ball would drastically improve the pace of play.

    1. There is no way the players union would ever allow a pitch clock to be implemented. Pitchers have every right to control the pace of the game.

      1. It’s already a rule. They just have to enforce it.

        And pitchers do not have every right to control the pace of the game. Where do you get that from?

        1. You’re referring to rule 8.04 which only requires a pitcher to deliver the ball within 12 seconds when the bases are empty.

          Enforcement of that will slow the game down by resulting in a minimum of two arguments (one from the pitcher and one from the manager). Then you get all the big wigs calling the league and saying, “My pitcher delivered the ball in 11.5 seconds, not 12, this is B.S.”

          The average time between pitches is in the ballpark of 12 seconds anyway with a few outliers.

          Secondly, do you really mean to tell me that in a playoff game the pitcher does not have the right to make sure he and his catcher are on the same page with their signs before he pitches? This gives the pitcher every right to control the pace.

          1. I’d like to know where you got your info regarding the average time between pitches is in the ballpark of 12 seconds? Can I get a link to that?

            Arguments will not be allowed when the rule is enforced, just like balls and strikes.

            Believe it or not, I could care less how long games go. I don’t mind watching the Dodgers for 3 or 4 hours. But the stepping out of the box on every pitch by the batter and the walking around the mound by the pitcher is ridiculous. It’s not everyone, but these Nomar Garciaparra routines are tiresome and unnecessary. The players have been allowed to do it. If they are forced to adjust they might complain, but they will adjust. They are adjusting to the new sliding rule at home plate, so they would adjust to this. I will also mention that I’m an umpire. At one time I umpired professionally in the minor leagues. So I’m coming from that point of view as well.

            These guys are thinking at least one or two pitches ahead. So they already pretty much know what they want to throw. Plus, a defense loves working behind a pitcher that works fast.

          2. http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/story/what-happened-to-the-12-second-rule-in-baseball-why-are-mlb-games-longer-052414

            In that article I’d like to first point to average time between pitches in seconds:

            2010: 17.35
            2011: 17.32
            2012: 17.95
            2013: 18.10
            2014: 18.29

            However, they address the times it takes the hitter to become “Alert” as well as times it takes the catchers to return the ball after a pitch. They state that called pitches take about 3 seconds to return and foul balls take roughly 5 seconds. These 3 factors combine for approximately 6 seconds between pitches that the pitcher is not responsible for.

            While I do think that players and teams will adjust, I do not see players union accepting these particular changes especially if high profile pitchers say, “I can’t pitch properly when on a pitch timer”.

            I also have a side personal question for you, when you umpired in the minors, did you ever call a ball for a pitcher taking “Too Long”? And if so, what was the result of your actions?

            But I do think actions should be taken against batters keeping them in the box at the very least instead of walking around adjusting every piece of clothing they have on. I honestly think that fans don’t care how long games go and it really only is the media that are at every single game that have gripes about the length of games.

          3. To answer your question, no, of course I never called it. I would have been massacred. Lol. But I also never had an opportunity to do so. I never came across a pitcher who was taking forever to deliver the pitch on a regular basis. Now, at the high school level we have run into that a few times. But usually that just takes a little conversation with the coach and the issue is remedied.

            I think if any changes need to be made, they’ll obviously do it in the minors first, like they are experimenting with this year. If it proves successful at shortening games, I definitely think we will see it at the major league level in the future.

            I agree with you that the fans don’t care how long a game lasts. Most only go to a couple games a year, and they want to get their money’s worth. But everything is driven by money anymore, and it’s the tv contracts that are bringing in the huge dollars right now. So I would think if they want shorter games, baseball is going to at least listen. If advertising dollars are going to go somewhere else because advertisers don’t think people are still watching the game on tv when the game is in its 3rd or 4th hour, then baseball will definitely do something about it to keep those dollars.

  2. Not so keen on the new double play rule.. I think this game is losing its “hardball” moments and this would just about take all of the danger out of the game. I do understand it from the safety side too… tough one. How many days till spring training opens? 🙂

  3. I don’t know about the second base rule. Trying to break up a double play is part of the game.

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