Major League Baseball has set up a series of rule changes designed to enhance the game and speed up the pace of play, but will this change the way we choose our MLB picks for this season?
The Changes for 2015
Last week I serendipitously wandered into a hidden culinary gem called Sushi-Teq located in the rear of Boston’s Intercontinental Hotel. I was greeted by a top shelf mixologist named Laris who made the most sublime Margarita north of Tijuana. As I sat watching two authentic sushi chefs wielding Yanagi knives with the grace and dexterity of a gazelle the conversation turned to baseball. It appears the Japanese game has many of the same problems hindering Major League Baseball. But the biggest problem both leagues are grappling with is the speed of the game. Below are the MLB rule changes for 2015.
1. Hitters must keep at least one foot inside the batter's box at all times, barring foul balls, wild pitches, or if a timeout is granted by the umpire.
2. Pitchers must throw a pitch within 20 seconds of receiving the ball from the catcher. Clocks will be posted in each dugout which will count down the 20 seconds.
3. There will be a maximum break between innings of 2:05, with a clock keeping track. Hitters must be in the batter's box by 1:45. If the hitter is not ready, the umpire can call a strike. If the pitcher doesn't throw a pitch by 2:05, the umpire can call a ball.
4. Teams will have a maximum of 2:30 to change pitchers, with the clock starting as soon as the reliever enters the field of play.
5. Teams are limited to a maximum of three mound visits per game, not including pitching changes. This rule applies to trips to the mound by managers, coaches, and catchers.
6. Pitchers no longer have to pitch four balls for an intentional walk. The manager can now signal to the umpire and a walk will be issued.
7. Managers must challenge all calls from the dugout. Last season was the first involving replay in the Major Leagues. It was a cat-and-mouse kind of scenario where the manager would argue the call with the umpire surreptitiously buying time for one of his coaches or assistants looking at the replay to determine whether or not to officially challenge the call on the field.
How Will This Alter Results?
It is impossible to determine which teams may get an edge or sustain a disadvantage but I can tell you that the veteran players will be far more susceptible to diminished statistics due to the new rule changes. Let’s look at Boston’s David Ortiz who is notorious for stepping in and out of the batter’s box and taking an unusually long respite from climbing back in the box to take a pitch. Or we could look at the flipside and note that Chicago Cubs’ ace Jon Lester is equally egregious in his laconic pace. When faced with the new criteria imposed upon both batters and hitters, assuming the new rules are rigidly enforced, it will make for some interesting confrontations when the veterans are forced by the umpires to adhere.
The game as it stands now is running north of three hours and that makes what can be a tedious game virtually unbearable to watch to conclusion. Below is a list of the most veteran teams with average age. When perusing the MLB odds this season it might not be a bad idea to glance back at this list and see how the veteran teams are faring with the new changes in place. My advice would be to lean towards the younger teams in your MLB picks particularly at the beginning of the season. Thus, if you think a side has value in a particular game then give your choice a bit more credence if that club is on the youthful side because there is no doubt that many of the veteran players will be adversely affected but to what degree remains unknown.
Top 5 Oldest Teams
1. Giants (28.9)
2. Dodgers (28.2)
3. Yankees (28.1)
4. Nationals (28.1)
5. Blue Jays (28.1)
Top 5 Youngest Teams
1. Braves (26.3)
2. White Sox (26.6)
3. Rangers (26.6)
4. Astros (26.7)
5. Mets (26.7)