MLB Will Be Testing Some New Rules in the Minors – Here’s Why They Mostly Suck

"WTF?" - Andy Pettite (probably)

Changes are inevitable for America’s Pastime baseball if they intend to be relevant in 50 years. I have plenty of opinions on what I think the MLB should be doing to advance the sport, and I plan on blogging them before Opening Day.

For now here are my thoughts on the rules changes that MLB will be testing out at various minor league levels this year.

Bigger Bags (AAA)

New 18″ square bases will replace 15″ bases.

They say this is being done in an effort to prevent injuries like this one:

The base will be made of a less-slippery surface and the thought is that the extra 3″ will make a big difference.1

As a former pitcher, I say BOOO!!

No, I don’t hate player safety. I just don’t like the runner having 3″ inches less between him and the bag at first.

I would argue that no distance has ever been set more perfectly than the 90′ between home plate and first base. It should be protected at all costs.

Easy fix – keep the bigger bag, but push it back to preserve the 90′

Modified Shift (AA)

This rule will require that all infielders have “both feet completely in front of the outer infield dirt boundary when the pitch is delivered.”

I don’t mind the shift. I say let them do what they want, if the hitters don’t want to adjust their approach so be it.

This could work to both keep the shift (sort of) and convince players to use the opposite side of the field more often. It should also shave a little bit of time off the length of games – no more having to wait for a third baseman to jog back to his natural position from mid-right field.

Death of “the Andy Pettite” (A+)

All “pitchers must step off the rubber to attempt a pickoff.”

Yes, even lefties. This means we wouldn’t get any of this:

People can argue all day over the legality of some moves and whether or not Pettite balked half the time, but nobody can argue that it’s not awesome to watch a runner get frozen up like that.

Plus it completely takes away a subtle, strategic part of the game. One of those game-within-the-game things that makes baseball so unique.

Just an awful idea.

Limited Pickoffs (A-)

Pitchers will be allowed only “two pickoff attempts per plate appearance.”

I don’t hate this at all. Great way to speed up the game and keep the audience engaged.

However I think this needs some tweaking. For starters, I think the rule should not apply to the post-season. Runs are too valuable in that time, pickoffs may be necessary.

Second, in regular-season games, the rule should only be enforced until the 6th inning. Or it can be modified to be applicable only if the game is within a certain run differential (i.e. enforced in a blowout, not enforced in a tight game).

15-Second Pitch Clock (A-)

This is more aggressive than the 20-second pitch clock that has been in place for some minor league levels.

All I can say to the MLB about this one is: good luck enforcing it.

Robo Umps (A-)

I’m all for giving robot umpires a shot. If they can be reliably consistent then why the hell not?

You want to really speed up the game? This is it.

Only downside here is that we won’t be seeing things like this too much anymore:

MLB is trying too hard to juice numbers by manipulating the style of play through these half-baked rules.

At least they’re testing them out in the minors first, I guess.

They shouldn’t be worried so much about the game itself, there’s more young talent in it now than ever before.

Yet the game is losing to basketball. And it ain’t because of the rules.

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that’s what she said