How long is the pitch clock in mlb? MLB rule changes: pitch clock, larger bases and more

How long is the pitch clock in mlb? Major League Baseball has implemented some rule changes for the 2023 season that will feel pretty radical to a good number of people. Perhaps the most controversial is the pitch clock. Yes, the sport that has long been known for its avoidance at using clocks will now have one on every single pitch, starting Thursday on MLB Opening Day.

A summary of the rule:

The clock is 15 seconds with the bases empty and 20 seconds with a runner on base
The clock starts when the pitcher catches the ball from the catcher and the clock runs until the pitcher starts his delivery (not when he releases the ball)

The batter must step in the box and be ready to hit with at least eight seconds left on the clock

Violations by the pitcher are an automatic ball and by the hitter are an automatic strike

A hitter gets one timeout per plate appearance

A pitcher gets two “disengagements” per batter. This is either stepping off or a pickoff attempt. A third disengagement would result in a balk. The disengagement count resets if a runner advances, such as with a stolen base, balk, wild pitch or passed ball

It’ll be an adjustment for everyone involved and there will likely be growing pains early in the regular season. We saw a few high-profile violations in spring training, but for the most part it ran fine. We also tokok a look at which pitchers might be most affected hered

The three highest seasons in MLB history in average time of a game played were 2019, 2020 and 2021 (the leader at 3:10). It dropped down to 3:03 last year, but that’s still the fifth-longest in league history (2017 was fourth). We saw a drastic cut in the time of the game in spring training action (games were averaging two hours and 36 minutes in mid-March), though it’ll increase some in the regular season once there are full commercial breaks.

While cutting down on the time of the game has been a big issue in particular for commissioner Rob Manfred, one of the main reasons for the clock itself is to cut out downtime where a pitcher is just holding the ball for long stretches of time or a batter stands outside the batter’s box for upwards of 20-30 seconds. Essentially, the goal is to cut out the time watching players doing nothing at all without cutting out any of the actual baseball. Even if the time of game isn’t decreased significantly, we’ll presumably be watching a lot more action instead of inaction.

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How long is the pitch clock in mlb

Baseball’s Pitch Clock Has Transformed Game Length—and Not Just in the Obvious Way

MLB’s faster pace has, understandably, made all the headlines. But it’s another effect of the new pitch clock—reduced variation in game length—that has truly changed the sport into something unseen in living memory.

At approximately 9:19 p.m. Pacific time on Tuesday, April 25, San Francisco Giants rookie catcher Blake Sabol capped off a three-run comeback in the bottom of the ninth by taking a two-out, two-strike breaking ball from St. Louis Cardinals closer Ryan Helsley over the center-field fence in San Francisco. At 9:22, the Giants’ Twitter account declared victory. One minute later, the Royals’ Twitter account followed suit: In Phoenix, K.C. closer Scott Barlow had gotten a grounder to third from Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker for the final out of the game. Three minutes after that, it was the Angels’ turn to celebrate: In Anaheim, Oakland’s last hope, Esteury Ruiz, had grounded out to second against Angels closer Carlos Estévez. One minute, there were still three MLB games going on; roughly six minutes later, all three were over, and baseball was done for the day.

If you had to pick one day from this season to sum up the impact of the pitch clock, you could do worse than that day: last Tuesday, April 25. All 30 MLB teams were in action, and on average, they took two hours and 36 minutes to go about their baseball business, exactly in line with the full-season standard for nine-inning games in 2023. That alone is remarkable, given that nine-inning games in 2022 took three hours and three minutes, on average, which was actually less time than they took in each of the three preceding years.

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How long is the pitch clock in mlb

2023 Major League Baseball spring training games shortened an average of 20 minutes

The early responses to the rule: it’s working, but it’s a real adjustment for all involved. MLB games reached an all-time high with an average time of three hours and 11 minutes in 2021. Last year, it was three hours and six minutes. So far this spring, games have been an average of 20 minutes shorter. And in the minors last year, when pitch clocks were implemented, games were cut by an average of 25 minutes.

Guardians manager Terry Francona is having to force himself to not focus so much on the clock, considering the many other things a manager has to worry about during games. But that’s why the time to acclimate to the new rules this spring is so valuable.

“We’ve kind of gotten caught up in looking at the clock … which … I’ve never in my whole life had to do,” Francona told reporters in Goodyear, Ariz. “I want to watch the game and see how we can figure out how to beat the other team, and I’ve caught myself looking at the clock, which in reality I can’t do anything about it. So I need to start just paying attention to the game. But we’ll get to that. Players are probably doing similar stuff. They’ll figure it out and we’ll figure it out.”

The league has already seen some interesting results with the rule change. A game between the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves ended in a tie when the game’s final better was called out via an automatic strike. Of course, a tie won’t happen during the regular season, but it’s entirely possible a game ends or goes to extra innings due to the rule, which makes it imperative to keep the clock in mind at all times.

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For players, it isn’t just paying attention to the clock. Pitchers and batters being limited in how often they can disengage is also a major piece to all of this. An example Francona pointed out: outfielder Steven Kwan, as he’s digging in and setting up in the box, has the habit of holding his arm out to the umpire to effectively call time until he’s ready. It’s a very common practice among hitters and has been for some time. Now, if Kwan is still doing that once the clock hits the 8-second mark, it’ll count as a timeout because he isn’t ready to hit. If he does it twice in the same at-bat, it’ll be an automatic strike.

Francona noted one instance in which he kept asking questions during a game to the umpire to make sure everyone was on the same page. He’s certainly not alone in this, as managers across baseball have noted something similar. The umpires, too, are having to find their own rhythm in how they call games. It’s even a question as to exactly how the timers work in different stadiums, and whether there could be differences game by game in how quickly the pitch clock starts, similar to dealing with differences in an umpire’s strike zone on a nightly basis.

“[One umpire] came over and he had 22 pages [of the rules] and I said, ‘I’m complaining about page 17,'” Francona said, laughing. “He goes, ‘It’s going fast for us, too.’ I think the one thing they did tell me was that the younger umpires that they’ve talked to all (who have done this before) said it kind of finds its pace. So we’ve got to let it happen.”

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