May 15, 2018

Best Way To Increase Pace Of Game? Enforce Rules That Already Exist.

Travis Sawchik, FanGraphs, May 11, 2018:
To really address pace, you need something new, like a pitch clock or the better enforcement of rule Rule 6.02 (c), which states "if the batter refuses to take his position in the batter's box during his time at bat, the umpire shall call a strike on the batter."

For this author, it is the batters strolling outside the box to take their practice cuts and readjust equipment — seemingly out of ritual rather than necessity — that has played a larger role in the slowing down between pitches than the pitchers holding the ball.

For example, back in 2014 as a newspaperman, I placed a stopwatch on every batter who stepped out of the box with both feet during a Pirates-Cardinals game at PNC Park. What I found is that it was indeed the batters — not so much the pitchers — who are playing a significant role in slowing down the action. (my emphasis)
What happened 190 times that evening was a batter left the batter's box after a pitch.

The Tribune-Review used a stopwatch on every batter that game. After the beginning of an at-bat, each time a batter left the batter's box with both feet, the clock began. When the batter returned to the box, the clock stopped. Pirates and Cardinals hitters spent a combined 39 minutes, 51 seconds outside the batter's box. The average stroll outside the box took 12.58 seconds.
In 2015, baseball elected to better enforce the rule and attached fines to batters who fled the box when no foul ball, swing-and-miss, or ball in the dirt occurred. Guess what happened. Behavior changed! ...

Fines were eliminated in the middle of the 2015 season, and by 2016 everyone was back to their sluggish ways. ...

The only way to ensure a quicker game is to enforce the rules as is, or to remove all doubt by putting a clock on the only major professional North American team sport without one.
Some comments:
kenai kings
The batters continued 'stepping out' is the most obvious and I believe easiest area to address. Why the umpires seem unwilling to enforce the rule is beyond me.

I've always been curious as to whether batters are hurting their chances by stepping out. If they froze in the position where they just saw the release point, tunnel, and spin, wouldn't they want to hold everything right there, so as to better recognize the next pitch? To me, moving every part of your body and taking a big long look around the stadium might be detrimental to honing in on the next pitch.

david k
I was watching the Yankees/A's game on Sunday, and the A's pitcher and catcher were having a lot of trouble working out the signs, particularly with a runner on second. They went through the signs several times, and a couple of times, the batter got annoyed and stepped out and called time. Maybe if they had a mound visit, they could have actually worked this out FASTER, but they didn't want to waste a mound visit, so this long exchange ensued.

To me, MLB seems more interested in conveying that they are trying to fix pace than they are interested in fixing pace. ... [T]his year they added the 6 mound visits (not counting pitching changes) rule ... But...were many teams going to the mound more than 6 times a game not including pitching changes?

1 comment:

Jim said...

I've noticed the frequent "stepping out" and wondered whether the rule had been changed and I'd maybe missed it. Never occurred to me that the umps had simply stopped enforcing it. Jesus fucking Christ. Words can't describe the hypocrisy and incompetence. But Manfred is going to London while the state of Florida ignores 2 major league baseball teams, one partly owned by an "icon" who is really just a carpetbagger. Didn't think it was possible to be a worse owner than Loria. So many easy, common-sense fixes to the game and so little interest in anything but greed.