No wonder Yankees and Red Sox play never-ending games

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Beyond the Boxscore crunched the numbers on the time pitchers take between pitches and the results are pretty interesting.

To no one’s surprise pitchers on the Red Sox (23.3 seconds) and Yankees (22.8 seconds) took the longest time between deliveries to the plate, while the A’s (18.9 seconds) and White Sox (19.1 seconds) were the quickest.

That may not seem like a huge difference from fastest to slowest, but consider that the average team throws 145 pitches per game and that means the difference between the Red Sox at 23.3 seconds and the A’s at 18.9 seconds is 638 seconds or about 10.5 minutes. Multiply that by two when the Red Sox are playing the Yankees and … well, each game has an extra 20-25 minutes just from the pitchers taking so damn long to make each throw.

In terms of individual pitchers, Rafael Betancourt earned his long-held reputation as the majors’ slowest-worker by averaging an MLB-high 31.1 seconds between pitches. To put that in some context, consider that Jonathan Papelbon at 30.0 is the only other pitcher to average more than 28 seconds between pitches. Or, put another way, Betancourt took 35 percent longer between pitches than the average Red Sox pitcher did. Yuck.

Mark Buehrle was the majors’ fastest-worker at 16.0 seconds between pitches, which is also no surprise and also means that Betancourt almost literally takes twice as long as Buehrle between pitches. Betancourt takes 52.2 minutes for every 100 throws, while Buehrle takes 26.7 minutes per 100 throws

There’s been all kinds of discussion about how baseball can speed up games, but the data from Beyond the Boxscore has me convinced that simply enforcing some sort of between-pitch time standard would address most of the problem. MLB could easily shave 15-20 minutes off the average game by simply insisting that slow pokes like the Red Sox and Yankees follow the lead of teams like the A’s and White Sox, and there’s just no reason to allow guys like Betancourt and Papelbon to take 30 seconds on every pitch.

Royals sign Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal

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Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday. MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan adds that Saunders will make $1.5 million upon reaching the majors, with a potential $500,000 in bonuses.

After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.

With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.