How long is the average mlb game? Major League Baseball gave media members access to new data ahead of Rob Manfred’s press conference at the 2023 MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, demonstrating the significant impact of this past offseason’s rule changes on the sport.
The implementation of the pitch clock was one of the biggest sticking points in the baseball community over the past few years, but it has certainly made games shorter. Two years after the average game time reached an all-time high of 3:10 in 2021, the average length of a nine-inning MLB game in 2023 has dropped all the way down to 2:38.
And according to the league, 60% of games do not feature a pitch clock violation by either team. 28% feature a single pitch clock violation, while 9% feature two, 2% feature three and only 1% feature four or more.
Violations have also steadily declined since the start of the season, with the league averaging 0.23 per game over the last 100 games compared to 0.87 in the first 100 games.
The league-wide batting average has gone from .243 in 2022 to .248 in 2023, and the average number of runs has gone from 8.6 to 9.2. This year’s strikeout rate of 22.7%, meanwhile, remains comparable to last year’s 22.4%.
Those numbers are also impacted by the infield shift getting banned, which had been another point of contention with fans, players and media members alike.
Across the league, batting average on balls in play was at .292 in 2021 and .290 in 2022. That number has inched up to .297 so far in 2023, but it has managed to significantly even the playing field in another way.
Right-handed and left-handed hitters are both batting .297 on balls in play this year. Righties’ BABIP was 12 points higher than lefties’ in 2022 and eight points higher in 2021, for reference.
The pitch clock and increased base sizes have also impacted baserunning so far this season.
In 2021, there was an average of 1.2 stolen base attempts per game, which was the lowest the league had seen since the 1960s. Teams are now attempting 1.8 steals per game – which is the most in over a decade – while also succeeding on 4.0% more of those attempts compared to 2022.
MLB presented all of that data alongside new attendance numbers, likely in an attempt to insinuate that the rule changes have been embraced by fans.
League-wide attendance is up 8.1% compared to 2022, with 23 of the 30 clubs seeing positive year-over-year growth and 12 teams seeing a boost of 10% or better. Attendance in June reached its highest point since 2017, and Father’s Day attendance broke 600,000 for the first time since 2008.
How Long Is a Baseball Game in 2023?
There has never been a better time than the present to discuss the length of an average baseball game. In 2023, a pitch clock has been introduced for the first time in the history of Major League Baseball. This clock allows 15 seconds for each pitch with the bases empty and 20 with runners on.
While other measures have been taken recently to speed up gameplay, this is the most profound. With the introduction of this clock, average game times are down by around 30 minutes in 2023. According to the MLB’s official Twitter account, they’ve dropped to around 2:37 so far this season, down from 3:07 in 2022.
This is the lowest average game time since 1984 when they averaged 2:35. The sample size is still relatively small as the season is young. Still, it appears that we should see average game times in the 2:30 – 2:40 range as long as the current pitch clock rules are in place.
HOW OFFENSE HAS INCREASED, BUT THE GAME IS STILL FASTER
Interestingly, other measures have occurred going into the 2023 season to increase offensive production. This included banning the defensive shift, which enabled placing three or four infielders on one side of the field.
Infielders can no longer position themselves on the outfield grass. Larger bases have been instituted, going from 15 to 18 inches. This should increase steals while reducing player injuries.
The base changes, the pitch clock and associated rules for holding runners on base, and the shift elimination are major moves toward offensive production. We have seen a notable increase in steals (both attempted and successful). This is in addition to the overall offense (runs up 1.4 per game and a 20-point league batting average increase).
On top of it, the MLB adopted the designated hitter in the National League as of 2022, yet another boon to offense. Teams scoring runs generally equates to longer games. Still, the pitch clock’s impact is so significant that we still see a 30-minute reduction in average game lengths.
It appears that the MLB’s efforts to speed up gameplay and increase offensive production simultaneously are working. Still, time will tell if these numbers hold steady throughout the 2023 season.
The Average Length of a Baseball Game
Contrary to sports like football, basketball, and hockey, baseball has no game clock. There are there quarters, halves, or periods. A baseball game lasts as long as it lasts to complete without a timed clock for the game.
Baseball games last nine innings. In each inning, there are two halves.
In the first half, the away team bats, and the home team pitches/fields. In the second, the home team bats, and the away team pitches/fields.
If the home team is ahead after eight and a half innings, there is no need for them to bat, and the game is over. This scenario inherently shortens the length of the game.
If both teams are tied after nine innings, extra innings ensue, equivalent to overtime in games like basketball, football, and hockey. In extra innings, the innings continue until there is a winner.
The length of games is fluid and determined by how long it takes to finish nine innings (or more in the case of extra innings). Many factors go into the average game length, including how high-scoring the game is and other considerations.
As a general rule of thumb, baseball games have historically gotten longer and longer over time. Until the introduction of the pitch clock, average times in the modern era clocked in at a little over three hours. We are in uncharted territory with a rule that has taken us back in time close to 40 years in average game length.
All that to say, if you go to an MLB game in 2023, barring extra innings, you can expect it to last about two hours and 40 minutes. This is a significant change from recent years.
The Goal of a Baseball Game
The objective in baseball is to score more runs than the opposing team. Batters hit against pitchers, attempting to get on base or hit home runs. Base runners must cross home plate in one fashion or another to score runs.
When a team is pitching/fielding, they want to stop opposing hitters from reaching base and crossing home plate. When a team is batting, the objective is to get on base, cross home plate, and score runs.
How Many Innings in a Regular Baseball Game?
Baseball games that end in regulation last eight and a half innings or nine innings. This depends on whether the home team is ahead after the top of the ninth.
If the game is tied after nine innings, it goes into extra innings. These last until a team leads at the end of an inning. There are occasional exceptions, such as games that are called early due to weather.
How Long Does a Baseball Inning Last?
Traditionally, the average baseball inning lasted about 20 minutes in recent times. Yet, the length of each inning could vary drastically depending on whether hitters are getting on base and other factors.
An inning will last as long as it takes for a team to get three outs, which can either happen rapidly or take considerable time. As of 2023, we are seeing shorter average innings due to the introduction of the pitch clock, closer to the 16-18 minute range.
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