How the New MLB Rules Impacted the First Set of Games

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How the New MLB Rules Impacted the First Set of Games

Chicago Cubs

We’re probably going to be talking about this all year, so it’ll get old eventually. But since we’re just a handful of days into the regular season, I figured you’d want to see how the new MLB rules impacted the first slate of games. I know I was curious.

Thankfully, ESPN Insider Jeff Passan has some numbers to share on the first four days of MLB, as they pertain to the new rules (pitch clock, shift limits, pickoff limits, etc.). And they’re pretty encouraging, all things considered. This compares last year to this year, through the first four days.


2022: 49
2023: 50

Time of Game:

2022: 3:09
2023: 2:38


2022: .230/.308/.374
2023: .245/.323/.392

Stolen Bases

2022: 29 of 43 (67.4%)
2023: 70 of 84 (83.3%)

Pitch Clock Violations: 0.8 per game (40 total).

I don’t know about you, but those look like WILD success to me, pretty much right across the board. I know people have mixed feelings about the length of games (even though, as a reminder … each game still has 9.0 innings and the same amount of actual baseball activity!), so we can set that one aside for now to find some common ground.

A 15-point bump in batting average is enormous and there were TWICE as many stolen bases and nearly 2x as many attempts. That’s a much more exciting brand of baseball to watch, whether you’re measuring it against “true” fans or trying to attract a new audience. It’s just better. And all of this came at a pace of fewer than one clock violation per game. That is not bad.

Passan had some commentary on his numbers in a follow-up tweet, which are both informative and the “correct” takes, as far as I’m concerned:

Quick takeaways: 1) More than a half-hour shaved off games with more offense and more action. Yes, please. 2) Almost all the offensive gains have come from singles. 3) With SB% so high, teams are going to run more. Success rate bound to drop. 4) Sub-1 violation/game is great.

And now that we’ve gotten through all that, I’ll lay this out plainly, with no shame: I strongly prefer a 2 hour 38 min game to a 3 hour 09 min game, assuming it features the same action. I just haven’t run into a single convincing argument as to why that’s a bad thing. So I guess that is all to say: so far, so good on the new MLB rules and the impact they’re having on the regular season.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami