Dramatic Change Coming to the Rules About Position Players Pitching
All right. So you’ve got the pitch clock. The pick-off limits. The defensive shift limits. The bigger bases. The (sticking around) free runner on second base in extra innings. A full year of bullpens being limited to eight pitchers. And now one more new rule for 2023 to stick in your head.
According to Jesse Rogers, the Competition Committee unanimously passed a rule change to the circumstances when a position player can pitch. Previously, a position player could come into a game that was a six-run spread in either direction – and, as we saw, usage of position players to pitch exploded the last few years (Eno Sarris’s research suggests pitches thrown by position players has increased nearly 11-fold in the last five years!). The league doesn’t want to see that continue, so now the rule is this: a position player for a team that is trailing cannot come in unless the lead is eight runs or more. And a position player for a team that is leading cannot come in until the 9th inning, and only if the lead is ten runs or more.
Position players are free to pitch in extra innings, but obviously that’s a whole other animal – teams would do it only if they desperately had to, and so you don’t want to take that away from them.
This rule change will cut down, dramatically, on position players coming to the mound. Whatever impact it was having on inflated offensive statistics – which was apparently one of the animating concerns for players – will now be muted.