The long-standing effort to make baseball fun again has taken a major step forward.
On Friday, the MLB rules committee voted in favor on several changes for next season aimed at increasing the pace of play, shortening games, and making games more exciting, the league announced. The committee includes players, owner-level team executives, and an umpire.
MLB has struggled in recent years to compete with the speed and excitement of other sports — and hopes these changes could help. The league has conducted both research and trial periods in the minor leagues.
One of the most drastic changes: Rules that effectively prohibit the shift — a consequence of increased data technology that has worked almost too well, decreasing the number of successful hits.
To speed up the game, the league will implement a 15-second pitch clock — with a 20-second pitch clock if there are runners on base. Hitters have time restrictions too, and can only call one time-out. If pitchers violates the clock, a ball will be added to the count. If hitters do, a strike will be added, per ESPN.
MLB found that this rule, when implemented in the minors, reduced game time by an average of 26 minutes.
Players voted against the shift prohibition and the pitch clock, the Major League Baseball Players Association said in a statement. “Major League Baseball was unwilling to meaningfully address the areas of concern the players raised,” the organization added.
Pitchers will also only be allowed to disengage from the rubber two times per at-bat, limiting the opportunities to pick off players.
The league will increase the base sizes, which would not only prevent injuries but also entice players to try to steal bases more often. The committee reportedly voted unanimously on this change.