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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Everything to Know About MLB’s New Rules in 2020

Back in March, MLB announced a set of new rules to be rolled out across 2019 and 2020. There wasn’t too much to watch in the ones rolled out this past season—what, you weren’t monitoring the drop in mound visits?—but there’s some meatier stuff on deck for 2020. So what do you have to watch out for, and what could it mean for teams’ needs this offseason? Here’s what you need to know, rule by rule:

New Rule: The active roster size with increase from 25 players to 26. Then, in September, the roster will expand up to 28, rather than 40.

How Much It Will Matter: Not a whole ton. Of course, there’s value in an extra man, but it’s hard to envision this bringing any particular shift in strategy or roster construction—especially since teams already have so much movement with shuttling guys between Triple A and the Show, and on and off the 10-day IL, that any “26th man” likely already had decent playing time. As for the difference in September, it should cut down on the worst offenders when it comes to crazy ‘pen parades (and, sadly, the best ones when it comes to minor-league lifers finally getting their chance in the big leagues) but that shouldn’t be felt particularly hard, either, as most teams’ September rosters already sat closer to 28 than 40.

What To Watch Out For: What will we be able to learn from how teams allocate that spot? Who goes for an extra bat, versus a defensive specialist, versus a third catcher? (If your guess was “extra reliever”… more on the new pitching rules in a moment!) Will there be a consensus trend? Or will we see a bit of everything?

So, what do we think of these changes?

 

QLE Posted: November 16, 2019 at 12:27 AM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rule changes

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   1. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: November 16, 2019 at 02:13 PM (#5901659)
So, what do we think of these changes?

I will miss the 40-man rosters in September and thought the claims of how "unfair" it was that one team might have 31 players active for a game while the other might have 38 were pure idiocy since each team had the opportunity to expand to 40 if they wanted to.
   2. Jose Goes to Absurd Lengths for 50K Posted: November 16, 2019 at 03:37 PM (#5901677)
The three batter minimum is much needed. My issue with it is not so much that it slows the game down, is that it slows the game down at precisely the worst possible moment. It’s like watching March Madness, the first 37 minutes are fine then the last three minutes are a series of fouls and time outs that take 45 minutes of real time. As a viewer I want those moments to just happen, not to be dragged out unnecessarily.
   3. bbmck Posted: November 16, 2019 at 04:44 PM (#5901694)
Reliever faces one batter and ends the half inning and then faces one more batter, can you pull him?

Can you move a pitcher to LF after facing less than 3 batters and not ending a half inning?
   4. Buck Coats Posted: November 16, 2019 at 05:11 PM (#5901700)
New Rule: Teams must label each one of their roster spots as pitcher, position player, or two-way player. (A “two-way player” must have a record of one season with at least 20 IP and 20 games started with three plate appearances or more as a position player or designated hitter.) There will be a limit on the total number of pitchers per roster—probably 13, but this part is not official yet—and position players will not be able to pitch unless a game has a run differential of more than six or is in extra innings.


Do the minors or Japan count for "a season"? Otherwise how could there ever be a new two-way player if the rules make it harder for position players to pitch?
   5. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: November 16, 2019 at 05:53 PM (#5901706)
and position players will not be able to pitch unless a game has a run differential of more than six or is in extra innings.


When this proposal was announced earlier this year, I looked at all games in 2018 in which a position player pitched, and precisely 0 came in regulation with a lead of less than 6. IOW, they added a rule that would have rarely if ever been pertinent in the past.
   6. Tom Nawrocki Posted: November 16, 2019 at 06:24 PM (#5901712)
There will be a limit on the total number of pitchers per roster—probably 13, but this part is not official yet


Just make it 12, and you can curtail the parade of anonymous relievers. It's so Manfredesque to consider one change that might actually make a difference, then put it off so you can think about it a while longer.

Also, boy that SI website is awful, isn't it?
   7. Sweatpants Posted: November 16, 2019 at 06:39 PM (#5901722)
It's so Manfredesque to consider one change that might actually make a difference, then put it off so you can think about it a while longer.
...while plowing ahead with other changes designed to address the same problem but far less likely to help. Thank goodness we got rid of those time-killing four-pitch intentional walks, or baseball would have broken the record for average game time by an even greater margin this year.
   8. bbmck Posted: November 16, 2019 at 07:04 PM (#5901731)
831 players pitched in the 2019 regular season. 406 faced at least 3 batters every appearance. Bryan Holaday, Jedd Gyorko and Max Stassi never faced 3 batters but their only appearance was as the final pitcher in a blowout loss. Dellin Betances is the only other pitcher without a 3+ BF appearance, striking out 2 Jays, not ending the inning and although feeling fine physically after the game has a partially torn left Achilles tendon. Oh what fun the lawsuit would be if he wasn't feeling physically fine and the umpire said he had to face another batter, although the Yankees could protect their pitcher by issuing a no pitch intentional walk.

185 pitchers with 90-99.9% of appearances facing 3+ batters, Nick Anderson has the most 0-2 BF games in this group with 7 and all are 2020 legal as they end the inning. Even if 1 in 10 of your appearances aren't 2020 legal it's doubtful you even risk losing leverage in negotiations and face a pay cut. 148 pitchers with 80-89.9% of appearances facing 3+ batters, Amir Garrett has the most 0-2 BF games in this group with 14 and only 6 are 2020 legal. Cional Perez's job is in far more jeopardy for giving up 11 hits including 3 HR and 2 Walks in 9 IP than because 1 of his 5 appearances was giving up a leadoff walk in the 8th and being pulled rather than pitch to another RHB David Freitas who represents the tying run. This group is probably largely unaffected, Adam Ottavino signs for 3/27 and 2 of his 11 appearances of 0-2 BF aren't 2020 legal.

Adam Kolarek is probably as good of a poster boy as any for the remaining 88. Teams are likely willing to pay for .483 OPS by LHB but want to limit him pitching to .857 OPS by RHB. Although you don't really have to pay him, he's a 30 year old reliever with under 2 years of service time. The Rays let him face RHB, 54 appearances, 32 facing 3+ batters and 15 of the 22 appearances of 0-2 BF being 2020 legal which resulted in 4.53 FIP, the Dodgers value him enough to part with Niko Hulsizer because they want a LOOGY, 20 of 26 appearances facing 0-2 BF with only 12 of those being 2020 legal dropping his FIP to a potentially sustainable 3.30 while his ERA+ rises to an unsustainable 552. In the post season Kolarek has 3 appearances all of which are 1 BF and not 2020 legal, getting two bases empty Ks and a 1 out groundball 12- that results in 2 outs -23.

Andrew Chafin 37 of 77, Oliver Perez 33 of 67, Daniel Stumpf 20 of 48, Luis Avilan 18 of 45, Jerry Blevins 18 of 45, Tyler Olson 16 of 39, Tony Sipp 20 of 36, Mike Dunn 12 of 28, Scott Alexander 13 of 28, Buddy Boshers 13 of 28 and Fernando Abad 12 of 21 are the other 11 pitchers with at least 20 appearances and at least 40% of those appearances being 0-2 BF. The Cardinals seems to be the LOOGY-ish team, Andrew Miller 23 of 73 are 0-2 BF and Tyler Webb 22 of 65 although the rest of their LHP are 1 of 18.
   9. PreservedFish Posted: November 16, 2019 at 09:37 PM (#5901752)
I have long been in favor of a stricter limit on the # of pitchers on a roster. Make it 11, or 10. Then you could get rid of the "pitch to three batters" rule. Want to deploy a LOOGY? Go for it. It just means your other guy might need to get 5 outs.
   10. PreservedFish Posted: November 16, 2019 at 09:40 PM (#5901753)
When this proposal was announced earlier this year, I looked at all games in 2018 in which a position player pitched, and precisely 0 came in regulation with a lead of less than 6. IOW, they added a rule that would have rarely if ever been pertinent in the past.


I suspect this rule will actually backfire: that it will more or less officially codify 6 runs as the "acceptable" time to bring in a non-pitcher, and that non-pitcher appearances will explode because of it.
   11. Tom Nawrocki Posted: November 16, 2019 at 10:12 PM (#5901757)
...while plowing ahead with other changes designed to address the same problem but far less likely to help. Thank goodness we got rid of those time-killing four-pitch intentional walks, or baseball would have broken the record for average game time by an even greater margin this year.


If I were commissioner, I would seek out the most invisible ways to speed up play. Limiting the number of pitchers on the roster is a good way to do that; most fans wouldn't even know a change had been made.

The automatic IBB is the opposite: it's very visible to everyone, while doing nothing to speed up the pace. I almost wonder if that's what Manfred wanted - inconsequential measures that made it look like he was doing something.
   12. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: November 16, 2019 at 10:23 PM (#5901761)
If I were commissioner, I would seek out the most invisible ways to speed up play.


You mean like enforcing the rule that's been in the book for a hundred years that it's the batter's responsibility to be in the box when the pitcher delivers, that the pitch is automatically a strike if both feet aren't in the box when he does, and that the umpire is not obligated to call time whenever the batter feels like it?
   13. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 16, 2019 at 11:01 PM (#5901771)
You mean like enforcing the rule that's been in the book for a hundred years that it's the batter's responsibility to be in the box when the pitcher delivers, that the pitch is automatically a strike if both feet aren't in the box when he does, and that the umpire is not obligated to call time whenever the batter feels like it?

Have to enforce the 12 second pitch clock too; also a longstanding rule.
   14. Sunday silence Posted: November 16, 2019 at 11:29 PM (#5901778)
This is the stupidest bullsh!t ever.

This all started when LaRussa started to abuse the concept that baseball has no clock. And started to milk every oppurtunity he could to warm up another reliever.

Not his fault really he's just taking advantage of the situation.

MLB's response is to ignore it for years. Then refuse to enforce the obvious and necessary clock rule that already exists. You know, so people like LaRUssa dont abuse it.

So instead of that we get all these bullsht rules. THis is freakin stupid.
   15. Dr. Vaux Posted: November 17, 2019 at 03:02 AM (#5901785)
And it will certainly lead to games taking longer, since relievers who don't have it will now have to walk two batters instead of just one. It will be ridiculous. It will also lead to pitcher usage that will be almost entirely focused on getting every reliever to start an inning and pitch exactly one inning. And as PreservedFish points out, it will enshrine the six-run deficit has the unofficial "give up" point. That will be when position players come in to pitch, to save the real relievers for close games. Extending the injury period for pitchers back to 15 days will only exacerbate that. It will be tantamount to a mercy rule (but that sure won't shorten any games, either).
   16. PreservedFish Posted: November 17, 2019 at 07:18 AM (#5901792)
And it will certainly lead to games taking longer, since relievers who don't have it will now have to walk two batters instead of just one.

I gotta disagree here. This isn't really a thing, first of all, except perhaps in very rare circumstances. This rule should make the games go faster, and as noted above, the perceived impact will outweigh the actual number of seconds saved.

It will also lead to pitcher usage that will be almost entirely focused on getting every reliever to start an inning and pitch exactly one inning

That doesn't necessarily seem worse than what happens now. In fact, it's how most bullpens are managed today.

It seems to me that most of the OOGYing lately occurs in the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings. That's exactly when we want to get rid of it. I think strategic OOGY deployment in the 9th inning of a tight game can be very suspenseful. But in the 6th inning? It's gratuitous.
   17. Tom Nawrocki Posted: November 17, 2019 at 09:19 AM (#5901798)
And it will certainly lead to games taking longer, since relievers who don't have it will now have to walk two batters instead of just one.


This never happens.
   18. Walt Davis Posted: November 17, 2019 at 03:17 PM (#5901839)
Nothing to do with game times or new rules, but this Pete Palmer article on historic reliever usage from a SABR looks interesting ... at least it's got some factoid tables we can point to.

I developed a stat called a true save opportunity. That is when the pitcher comes in with his team ahead, but their win probability is below 50 percent because of the opponent base-out situation. There have been 2,673 such situations since 1971. From 1971 through 1980, the team save leader was brought in 36 percent of the time. This number has been plummeting ever since: 23 percent in 1981–90, only 10 percent in 1991–2000, and 4.7 percent for 2001–17. So when the game is really on the line, the closer is hardly ever called on. In the last 17 years, there have been 934 of these. Only 31 were in the ninth inning. Most came in the sixth (258), seventh (284), and eighth (214). The first five innings only had 147.

Interesting. Obviously a lot of that is due to textbook closer usage and then you add on issues about getting a reliever ready on short notice anyway. That was a lot easier when you really only had one reliever. Nobody's gonna get their closer warming up in the 6th because the pitcher just gave up a single.

But really, not a well-chosen stat ... in 17 seasons, 30 teams, 162 games each and only 934 times. 55 times a year, <2 times per team per year. (That means technically it should probably be in the "tactics" bucket, not "strategy.") It would be interesting to see if it worked better if we used something like 2/3 chance to win.

It does demonstrate a real shift though in that the "fireman's" job was to get out of trouble while the "closer's" job is to make sure trouble never starts. Which I have to admit is obvious once I look at it from that angle.

Nearer the end, he laments the loss of bench players ... then shows that gaining the platoon advantage late isn't that big of a deal ... but while that suggests you don't need all these relievers, it also suggests those bench players aren't all that handy either.
   19. winnipegwhip Posted: November 18, 2019 at 10:31 AM (#5901945)
This all started when LaRussa started to abuse the concept that baseball has no clock. And started to milk every oppurtunity he could to warm up another reliever.


I still have on vhs a WSBK Sportsbeat from May of 1994. It is a roundtable with Bob Lobel and Boston sports writers. What is noteworthy is Bob Ryan warning about the "creeping LaRussanisms" into the game which are slowing the game to a crawl.
   20. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: November 18, 2019 at 02:17 PM (#5902061)

I suspect this rule will actually backfire: that it will more or less officially codify 6 runs as the "acceptable" time to bring in a non-pitcher, and that non-pitcher appearances will explode because of it.


And as PreservedFish points out, it will enshrine the six-run deficit has the unofficial "give up" point. That will be when position players come in to pitch, to save the real relievers for close games.


No way. Managers know that a 6-run lead isn't a guaranteed win. Are they going to put in a position player, give up six runs and then tell the fans "What do you want, I was making decisions by the book"? As soon as a position player looks like he could actually endanger the game they get him out of there.
   21. Rusty Priske Posted: November 18, 2019 at 02:58 PM (#5902081)
All these rule changes are positive things, except for the position players pitching one, and that is more neutral than anything.
   22. villageidiom Posted: November 18, 2019 at 04:44 PM (#5902123)
Reliever faces one batter and ends the half inning and then faces one more batter, can you pull him?
Yes.
Can you move a pitcher to LF after facing less than 3 batters and not ending a half inning?
No. The rule being amended is 5.10(g), which currently reads like this:
If the pitcher is replaced, the substitute pitcher shall pitch to the batter then at bat, or any substitute batter, until such batter is put out or reaches first base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire-in-chief’s judgment, incapacitates him for further play as a pitcher.
The amendment is to expand "the batter then at bat" to include the subsequent two batters or their substitutes. The only exceptions to facing those batters are if the offensive team is put out, or the pitcher is incapacitated to continue play as a pitcher. You could argue that just because he is physically incapable of pitching doesn't mean he couldn't play another position, but the whole notion of moving a pitcher to another position usually is done with the intent of doing so temporarily, then putting him back in as a pitcher later. If he's incapacitated to pitch, he's not going to pitch two batters later.
   23. RoyalFlush Posted: November 18, 2019 at 05:12 PM (#5902139)
I didn't RTFA, but with the change in roster size, will they still allow the "extra" player for doubleheaders? Wasn't sure if that would still be viewed as necessary any longer. Obviously, it doesn't come in to play that much, but I remember the Royals using it the past few years.
   24. JAHV Posted: November 18, 2019 at 06:12 PM (#5902164)
I have long been in favor of a stricter limit on the # of pitchers on a roster. Make it 11, or 10. Then you could get rid of the "pitch to three batters" rule. Want to deploy a LOOGY? Go for it. It just means your other guy might need to get 5 outs.


I'm probably over-estimating the impact this would have, but in addition to fewer pitching changes in general, I am hopeful it would curb the rising strikeout figures. Starters and relievers both are going to have to pitch more innings, which means throwing at lower speeds and hopefully allowing more contact. I'm sure enterprising organizations would find some way of manipulating the system to rotate relievers from the minors, but on its face, I think this would help the strikeout problem (assuming you think there IS a strikeout problem - I certainly do).

I think 10 is probably a non-starter, but I'd love to see 11 set as the maximum number of pitchers. It would also reward teams who have two-way players, which is a fun development.

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