A pitch clock is seen behind Washington Nationals catcher Keibert Ruiz (20) and home plate umpire Dan Bellino during an opening day baseball game between the Nationals and the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park, Thursday, March 30, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

MLB Opening Day 2023 Kicks Off with New Rules

Major League Baseball is back in action with all 30 teams stepping up to the plate on Thursday. The offseason was a whirlwind of player trades like José Abreu moving to Houston Astros and hefty contract deals, but the shifts in baseball don’t stop there. This season, players and fans will need to adjust to the newest professional baseball rules which will change the baseball game play forever.

New Season, New Rules

The first rule on the field is the pitch clock, which trims dead time. Pitchers now have 15 seconds to throw when nobody is on the base and 20 seconds to throw when a runner is present. This speeds up the game tremendously while keeping the action focused.

The next rule implemented by the MLB is the banning of defensive shifting. This means at the start of each pitch, teams must have at least four players infield. Two of the four players must be on their respective side of second base and stay there. According the MLB website, if the infielders aren’t aligned properly at the time of the pitch, the offense can choose an automatic ball or the result of the play.

Two more rules will take action starting today: bigger bases and a cut back on position players pitching. Traditionally, the bases on the field were 15 inches square, but now they’re 18 inches square. As for position players pitching, the MLB requires that a team to be leading by 10 or more runs in order for a position player to pitch while the trailing team’s position players can pitch anytime it’s down by eight or more runs.

How Will This Effect The Game?

Hitters will need to be set and ready to bat as the pitch clock ticks. Umpires will be more vigilant than ever as stadiums fill with winding clocks. The batting average on balls in play is expected to increase with the defense’s shift ban. Less collisions are expected with the bigger bases. Baseball games will be more efficient with the new rules in play.

About Sarah Zephir

Sarah is a senior public relations major in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida. You can reach Sarah by email at Sarahzephir@ufl.edu.

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