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Pitch Clock Newsbeat

Thursday, September 28, 2023

12 lessons from the first season under new rules

1) Obviously, game times shortened.

There is no bigger takeaway from the timer, of course. As of this writing, the average nine-inning game time is 2 hours, 40 minutes—a decrease of 24 minutes when compared to the same number of games in 2022 and the lowest such average since 1985 (2:39).

If we control for the run environment and events that typically increase game time (such as mid-inning pitching changes), then the year-over-year decline in nine-inning game times is 26 minutes.

And if you go back to 2021, which was an all-time high of 3:10 per game, we are down a half-hour compared to two seasons ago.

2) Game times did lengthen slightly in the second half.

Digging deeper, we do see a rise in game times within 2023 as players became more familiar with the nuances of the timer rules. In the first three weeks of the season, the average nine-inning game time was 2:38. In the most recent three-week span, the average time was 2:44.

How has this happened? One veteran pitcher said that he’s learned to be comfortable stepping off the mound and using one of his allotted disengagements, rather than rush a pitch with a runner on base. That’s an interesting observation, because, as you’ll see later in this piece, the fewest violations have occurred between pitches with a runner aboard. When pitchers let the timer wind down and then step off, it adds 20 seconds to the at-bat. So that’s one example of how adaptation to the timer has slightly expanded game times within the season.

All that said… even if every nine-inning game were 2:44, that would still be the lowest average since 1986.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 28, 2023 at 09:23 AM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: pitch clock

Friday, September 01, 2023

Sources: MLB Won’t Adjust the Pitch Clock for the Postseason

The pitch timer in postseason play will remain unchanged from regular-season play. After a meeting of its Executive Council, MLB informed the Competition Committee on Friday afternoon that it will not be presenting any proposals to amend rules for postseason play this year, according to a league official.

The notification is an indication that owners are satisfied with its pace-of-play initiatives and how players have adapted to the new rules. Thanks largely to a timer, which requires a pitch within 15 seconds with the bases empty and 20 seconds with runners, the average time of game has been cut from 3:03 to 2:39.

As hitters have grown more comfortable in using one timeout per plate appearance, time of game has crept up from 2:37 in April to 2:41 in August.

There had been some discussion among players that postseason play could benefit from more time on the clock between pitches, given the importance of the games. Data from MLB indicates that players have adjusted well over the course of the season to playing with the clock.

According to that data, pitches with the bases empty are thrown with an average of 6.5 seconds remaining on the timer and 7.4 seconds remaining with runners on. Violations have declined from 0.71 per game in April to 0.29 per game in August.

Last month 75.4% of all games were played without a pitch-timer violation, including all 15 games on Aug. 25.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 01, 2023 at 03:30 PM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: pitch clock

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

MLBPA wants baseball to soften pitch timer before playoffs

Soon after Clark spoke with reporters on the subject, Manfred was asked if there was a chance that MLB would tweak the current rules, which allow for 15 seconds between pitches when the bases are empty and 20 seconds when runners are on.

“In general, I think you ought to play the postseason the way you play the regular season,” Manfred said. “We are comfortable the way the clock and the violations—particularly late in the game, in high-leveraged situations—have been managed.”

Players aren’t suggesting getting rid of the clock entirely—just tweaking it enough to provide extra time, especially in those high-leverage moments. That includes potentially adding seconds to the clock, approving extra timeouts or disengagements or any number of other ideas which Clark said would give players a chance to “breathe.”

“Considering you just played a 162-game season [with a pitch clock], nobody is looking to play 3½- to 4-hour games,” Clark said. “I don’t think a few seconds here or there is going to create a 3½- to 4-hour game.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 12, 2023 at 09:09 AM | 85 comment(s)
  Beats: pitch clock

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Data shows no clear correlation between pitch timer and injuries

When MLB had its usual spate of pitching injuries at the start of the 2023 season, some questioned the impact of the pitch timer. But updated data and historical trends both throw cold water on the theory that the pace created by the timer is to blame for ailing arms.

Pitching injured list placements in the first 75 days of the regular season were in line with 2019 and 2022 and down significantly from 2021.

The same goes for pitcher injured list placements in the month of May:

While injured list placements are up year over year going back to the start of Spring Training, that data is inherently skewed by an earlier spring start date when compared to the COVID-impacted 2021 season and the lockout-impacted 2022 season.

“You can’t prove [the pitch timer is to blame for injuries],” said Glenn Fleisig, research director for the American Sports Medicine Institute and injury research advisor for MLB, “because we don’t live in a world in which only one thing changed from last year to this year.”


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 14, 2023 at 10:12 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: pitch clock

Friday, June 02, 2023

Hitters Are Losing More Long Plate Appearances

Little change here. So what does this all mean? Well, hitters have the advantage when they put the ball in play on the first or the second pitch, and there’s a massive dropoff once the possibility of a strikeout arises at three pitches. wOBA doesn’t really re-approach average (i.e., a wOBA change of zero) until you get to six pitches, which is where you have a bunch of full counts and hitters who have fouled off a few. Each of the past two years, wOBA has continued rebounding or stayed level through at least nine-pitch PAs. This year, however, the rebound surges at seven pitches and then stops….

This makes me think that it’s less a matter of fatigue and more a matter of focus. Hitters typically have shorter bursts of action than pitchers; hurlers routinely rack up double-digit pitch counts in an inning, and a long PA won’t do much to change that, but it isn’t every day that a hitter has to battle through a 10-pitch PA. That wears on your mind just as much as your body.

Pitchers still control the action, and while they do have more violations than hitters, their clock-aided gamesmanship is only improving. On the other hand, it seems to me that far less emphasis was placed on how hitters can use the clock to their advantage; making use of their one timeout is paramount to helping them re-focus. With the caveat that I didn’t distinguish between runners-on and bases-empty situations, an avenue for future research given the differences in the clock across those scenarios, I imagine that with more reps hitters will have an easier time keeping their head in the game in this new era and continue to boost offense this year.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 02, 2023 at 04:03 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: pitch clock

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

What happened to the no-hitter? MLB still waiting for its first no-no in pitch-clock era

And Major League Baseball’s sweeping rule changes to stimulate offense – a pitch clock, a ban on defensive shifts, a few less inches from home to first – have had a modest but still profound effect.

Hits per game are up 2% from last year and 2.5% from 2021 and runs scored up 7%. Even the stingiest pitcher might agree that the changes – resulting in a faster, more active game – have been positive.

But so far in 2023, this hitter-friendlier game has helped wash away one of the game’s enduring gems:

The no-hitter.

It’s been almost exactly two years since then-Yankees right-hander Corey Kluber needed just 101 pitches to no-hit the Texas Rangers on May 19, 2021 – the second no-hitter in as many days and the seventh to date that season.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 24, 2023 at 09:14 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: pitch clock

Monday, May 22, 2023

Red Sox: Kenley Jansen calls out MLB for ‘ruining careers’ with pitch clock

Jansen recently made a guest appearance on Audacy’s “Baseball Isn’t Boring” podcast and gave his two cents on how the pitch clock rule has thrown its own curveball at pitchers, who are now expected to quickly adjust to a faster game tempo.

Jansen said:

“You’re learning and adjusting right now, especially when you come out there and you’re not throwing strikes. It can get a little challenging. What would you do if there’s no pitch clock there? You learn how to slow down the game, reset your mind, go back out there and attack the zone. That’s the one thing for me, I’m learning how to adjust to that.”

Jansen speaks about his personal experiences as a closer and how he used to take time to reset in later innings to prevent the game from “speeding up” on him.

Calibrating one’s pitches to the new pitch clock rules isn’t just a mental change, either. It can take a physical toll on pitchers if they’re not pacing themselves correctly.

“People are getting worn out… You’re playing with somebody’s career and basically might blow out. I’m not criticizing, I’m speaking the reality.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 22, 2023 at 10:04 PM | 58 comment(s)
  Beats: kenley jansen, pitch clock

Friday, May 19, 2023

MLB memo warns hitters not to circumvent pitch timer rules

Major league hitters are being reminded that any attempted circumvention of pitch timer rules to gain an advantage will result in a violation, according to a memo sent to MLB teams and obtained by ESPN on Wednesday.

The clarification comes in light of Boston Red Sox pitcher Kenley Jansen being assessed two violations in the span of four pitches Saturday after St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter Willson Contreras got into a hitting position with one foot in and one foot out of the batter’s box.

Contreras raised his bat and engaged with Jansen with more than the required eight seconds remaining on the clock to be in the box. In seeing this, Jansen came to a set position, which led to the quick pitch violations.

From now on, when a batter gets into a hitting position and engages with the pitcher, with one or both feet out of the box, he’ll be warned and then assessed a strike on subsequent violations, according to the memo.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 19, 2023 at 09:11 AM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: pitch clock

Sunday, May 07, 2023

Statcast Lab: What should a pitcher do, once they reach two prior disengagements?

There have been 378 events (pitch or pickoff attempt) after a pitcher has reached two prior disengagements.

Ten times, they attempted a pickoff attempt.  Once they were successful, once the runner stole the base anyway, and the other 8 times, they were unsuccessful, and so led to an automatic balk, aka Stolen Balk.  In other words, 9 bases gained, versus 1 out.  That is of course a terrible tradeoff.

And what happens when they did NOT try to pickoff the runner with two prior disengagements?  Well, 340 times, the runner did not attempt to steal.  The runners simply have not been as aggressive as you might think.  And of the 28 times they did attempt to steal, they were only successful 21 times: so, 21 SB and 7 CS, for a clean 75% success rate.  Given how the balances have been completely tipped toward the runner, that’s not a good tradeoff.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 07, 2023 at 03:51 PM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: pitch clock

Monday, May 01, 2023

Baseball’s Pitch Clock Has Transformed Game Length—and Not Just in the Obvious Way

If you had to pick one day from this season to sum up the impact of the pitch clock, you could do worse than that day: last Tuesday, April 25. All 30 MLB teams were in action, and on average, they took two hours and 36 minutes to go about their baseball business, exactly in line with the full-season standard for nine-inning games in 2023. That alone is remarkable, given that nine-inning games in 2022 took three hours and three minutes, on average, which was actually less time than they took in each of the three preceding years.

Fans who follow baseball closely, and a good many people who don’t, know that the pitch clock has cut almost half an hour off the average MLB game time this year. What may be even more remarkable, though not nearly as widely remarked on, is how alike in length this year’s games have been. April 25’s 15 contests included close games and lopsided games, shutouts and slugfests. But there weren’t any extra-long games that were balanced out by a bunch of extra-short ones. Only 36 minutes separated the longest game (2:52) from the shortest game (2:16). Every East Coast game was over before 10 p.m. ET, and every West Coast game ended shortly before 12:30 a.m. ET. On that night, you could almost set your watch to baseball—traditionally, and either famously or infamously, the sport with the most malleable, variable approach to time.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 01, 2023 at 10:30 PM | 35 comment(s)
  Beats: pitch clock

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Pitch clock mental effects: How MLB pitchers, hitters are learning to adjust their routines to fit new pace

Part of the adapting is not letting a pitch clock violation snowball into something bigger. Let a strike be just one strike, or a ball be just one ball. And then there’s this possibility Tewksbury brought up: pitchers possibly even intentionally letting a violation happen, in certain scenarios, if time is getting away in a key moment.

“Instead of freaking out and making a rushed pitch, think ‘All right, well, I didn’t make the pitch clock, but I’m gonna commit to this pitch and move on from here,’ instead of ‘Oh my god, I gotta throw a pitch,’ and it gets hit and blame it on the pitch clock. Don’t throw it. Take a ball.”

Is that something that really might happen?

“I would think so. I would hope so,” he said. “That would be something I would be doing. I’d be like, ‘You know what? I’m not ready. I need extra time and I’m not gonna rush this pitch right here. And I don’t care if the counts goes to 2-1 or whatever it is. I’m not gonna let this outside influence affect me and have larger consequences. I would hope that players would do that. I think that would be a smart thing to do ... in the right situation.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 12, 2023 at 05:37 PM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: pitch clock

Wednesday, April 05, 2023

Why some MLB pitchers want time added to the pitch clock — and why it should stay as is

Though it won’t show up in the box score, there were a handful of times throughout those five innings when Cortes was adversely impacted by the clock. At one point, the southpaw looked up and saw that the timer was at three seconds. At that moment, Cortes knew he had to throw whatever sign catcher Jose Trevino was putting down. In that rushed sequence, the pitch location could suffer and lead to a disastrous result. If Cortes doesn’t make the pitch in time, the pitch violation would result in a ball. Cortes described that scrambling sequence as “trying to dodge a bullet.” The bullet, of course, being a walk, hit or home run.

“At different scenarios in the game,” Cortes said. “Maybe having a runner on. Maybe you got two strikes on a guy, and he’s already seen a couple of your pitches, and you’re trying to think, ‘OK maybe I can throw him this and set him up for the next pitch or just go right after him.’ And I caught myself a few times yesterday thinking, OK, I just threw the pitch, and I’m getting the ball back from Trevino, and I see the clock going :13, :12, :11, :10. I’m trying to think, and I’m trying to execute and compete. I would say I caught myself doing that three to four times yesterday.”

Cortes is certainly not the only starting pitcher expressing dissatisfaction at feeling rushed because of the clock. Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler detailed another scenario in which he looked up to see just four seconds remaining on the timer and was forced to throw whatever pitch catcher J.T. Realmuto called. Wheeler, who allowed four runs in 4.1 innings in his opening start, said he can almost expect lousy locations on those pitches where he feels rushed. Just a tad more time, he believes, would lead to better execution.

“Adding 2-3 seconds won’t change the time of the game that much,” Wheeler contested. “But it would be night and day for us.”


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 05, 2023 at 12:11 PM | 142 comment(s)
  Beats: pitch clock



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