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MLB Announces Competition Committee Modifications for 2024 Season

Pitch Clock in Between Batters - Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

The following was recently announced by Major League Baseball – MLB Announces Competition Committee Modifications for 2024 Season

Major League Baseball (MLB) announced modifications to the Official Baseball Rules that have been approved by the joint Competition Committee beginning with the 2024 Championship Season, including Spring Training and the Postseason. The Competition Committee – comprised of six owners, four players and one umpire – was created as a part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated between MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) in 2022.

Today’s vote followed the Committee’s discussions over several meetings throughout the offseason and additional conversations with General Managers, Field Managers and the Executive Committee of the Major League Baseball Umpires Association (MLBUA). The changes adopted by the Committee include adjustments based on feedback from Major League Player and Umpire representatives. The Committee also agreed to table separate proposals on Blocking Bases and Pitching Deliveries for further discussion this offseason.

The following modifications were approved by the joint Competition Committee:

  • Runner’s Lane: The Runner’s Lane will be widened to include the dirt area between the foul line and the infield grass. Widening the lane allows batters to take a more direct path to first base while retaining protection from interference. The distance between the foul line and the infield grass will be between 18 and 24 inches in all parks, with some limited grace periods granted by MLB due to difficulty in modifying the field (e.g., synthetic turf field).

Image Credit: MLB

  • Pace of Game: MLB proposed minor changes to the Pace of Game Regulations to address an increase in game time as the season progressed – the average nine-inning game time increased seven minutes from April to September (five minutes after controlling for the number pitches, breaks, and runs scored).
    • Timing Between Pitches: Reduce time from 20 seconds to 18 seconds with runners on base. Pitchers began their deliveries with an average of 7.3 seconds remaining on the 20-second timer in 2023. Pitchers retain the ability to step off and re-set the Clock up to two times without penalty. Violations with runners on base were the least frequent (14% of all violations vs 32% of all pitches) in 2023. A universal 17-second Clock used for the final month of the Triple-A season did not increase violations with runners on base.
    • Batter Timeouts: Based on player feedback, MLB withdrew a proposal that would have required the home plate umpire to immediately reset the Pitch Clock after a batter called timeout.
    • Pitching Changes: If a new pitcher steps onto the warning track with less than 2:00 remaining on the inning break Clock, the Clock will reset to 2:00 rather than 2:15 as was the case in 2023. Inning breaks that contained a pitching change averaged 2 minutes and 35 seconds in 2023 (broadcasters are only guaranteed two minutes of commercial time).

      Yankees manager Aaron Boone takes a mound visit at Yankee Stadium during 2023 regular season – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

    • Mound Visits: Mound visits will be reduced from five per game to four, and an extra mound visit will still be awarded for the ninth inning if the defensive team has zero remaining at the end of the eighth inning. Mound visits rank among fans’ least favorite events in baseball. Clubs averaged only 2.3 mound visits per game in 2023. Last season, 98% of games would not have exceeded a limit of four mound visits. Umpires will also permit defensive players to signal for a mound visit without actually visiting the mound to further help improve pace of game.
    • Circumvention: The FTC will now restart the timer after a dead ball (g., foul ball) when the pitcher has the ball and play is ready to resume. There will no longer be a requirement for the pitcher to be on the mound, removing the pitcher’s ability to delay the start of the timer by walking around the edge of the mound.
    • Pitcher Who Warms Up Must Face At Least One Hitter: A pitcher who is sent out to warm up for an inning must face at least one batter (in addition to any requirements under the Three-Batter Minimum rule). There were 24 instances this season where the pitcher that warmed up between innings was replaced before throwing a pitch (adding approximately three minutes of dead time per event). There were two such instances during the 2023 World Series.

John Stanton, Chairman of the Competition Committee and Chairman of the Seattle Mariners, said: “From its inception, the joint Competition Committee’s constructive conversations between players, umpires and owners have produced rules that significantly improved the game for fans. These modifications will improve on last year’s work by the Competition Committee, which was a resounding success with our fans and for the sport. I want to thank the Commissioner’s Office, the Players Association and the Major League Umpires for their dedication to the greatest game ever invented.”

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