Opening Day has arrived and a feeling of hope is in the air.
All 30 Major League teams are starting fresh, and the opportunity for a run at the Fall Classic is equal for everyone.
At least for one day.
With the new season come changes to the game of baseball, with the implementation of new rules making headlines throughout spring training.
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I think this could go down as one of the most unbelievable opening days in history when you think about it,’’ MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told USA TODAY Sports last week.
“We’re back to normal. We got the most exciting set of rule changes I think ever in the game, really, certainly the biggest set. … I think we have great momentum coming into this year.’’
Baseball was in need of a jolt, and multiple rule changes were implemented in order to provide it.
Let’s take a look at three new rules that will heavily impact the 2023 MLB season.
This is the rule that has received the most scrutiny over the past several weeks, as players have attempted to adjust to the sped-up pace of play.
There will now be a 30-second timer in between batters, a 15-second timer with the bases empty and a 20-second timer with runners on base. Pitchers who violate the timer will be assessed an automatic ball.
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Hitters will also be impacted, needing to be in the box and alert with eight seconds remaining on the pitch timer, or they will be charged with an automatic strike.
The pitch clock reduced minor league games by about 26 minutes last season, according to a report by MLB.com.
The timer will reset with runners on base with a pickoff attempt or a step off of the rubber by a pitcher.
Speaking of pickoff attempts, those will be limited in 2023 as well, with pitchers allowed just two attempts per batter. Should the runner advance a base, the pickoff limit is reset.
The limit of pickoffs should increase the number of stolen base attempts in Major League Baseball season.
Do you know what else should increase stolen base attempts? Larger bases.
Three of the four bases have been increased in size for the 2023 season.
All bases – excluding home plate – have been increased from 15 inches to 18 inches, with the hope that it will reduce injuries.
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In the minor’s last season, the bigger bases decreased injuries around the bases by 13% last season, according to MLB Network.
The larger bags should also increase stolen base attempts, as the distance between bases has slightly decreased.
“The bases, they’re the bases,” Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters in February. “Wait until you see them. They look like a pizza box, to be honest with you.”
The Defensive Shift
No longer will fans see bizarre defensive alignments with just a single player on one side of second base.
At the time of the pitch, all four infielders must be on the infield dirt or grass, and at least two players must be on one side of second base.
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The hope is that the ban on defensive shifts will increase batting averages across the league, with MLB experiencing its lowest league batting average in 2022 since the 1968 season, according to ESPN.
The new rules will have Opening Day looking a little different this year, but the game of baseball largely remains the same.
First pitch of the season is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.
Here’s to a wonderful six months of baseball.