Pace of play has been one of the most talked about subjects in baseball over the past few offseasons, and it seems to be even more of a focus this offseason as Major League Baseball wants to implement a 20 second pitch clock. This would be a big step towards speeding up the game, which has been a focus since Rob Manfred took over as commissioner of baseball.
The 20 second pitch clock has been a part of the minor leagues for the past three seasons. It has worked well for the lower levels, but the question arises: How will Major League players adjust to needing to work quicker? Buster Olney of ESPN shared some data on how fast current pitchers work:
According to data published by Fangraphs, no starting pitcher who qualified for the ERA title averaged under 20 seconds between pitches in 2017; the average was about 23.5 seconds. Pedro Baez of the Dodgers was the slowest-working reliever at 31.1 seconds between pitches.
This would be a big adjustment for pitchers.The vast majority of pitchers in baseball take well above 2o second between pitches. As we all know, baseball players are very routine-oriented, and their routine needing to be abbreviated will likely be tough for some to stomach. We’re all accustomed to watching Pedro Baez leave us waiting what seems like forever between pitches, so how will he adjust to needing to work more than 10 seconds faster?
Buster Olney also notes that it will be a big adjustment for hitters, who also have their routines between pitches:
Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera led all National League players who qualified for the batting title with 29.3 seconds between pitches, and the Astros‘ Marwin Gonzalez averaged an MLB-high 29.5 seconds. The Phillies fielded three of the six slowest-working hitters in MLB last season.
Hitters will also be required to shorten their routines between pitches. This may mean something as simple as one less practice swing or not adjusting their batting gloves. While that may seem like a small thing to us, for hitters who have been doing the same routine their entire career it will certainly be a tough change to make.
Only time will tell how players will adjust if the pitch clock is implemented, but it’s looking like it is only a matter of time before it happens. While the MLB and the players still need to agree to the terms of this rule, many expect this to be the year it actually happens. How do you feel about the idea of a pitch clock being implemented? Let us know in the comments below!
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