Coors Field has become somewhat less of a hitter’s paradise since the Rockies began storing baseballs in a humidor and Dave Krieger of the Denver Post reports that they hope to deflate the ridiculous offensive numbers being posted at Triple-A by doing the same in Colorado Springs.
In general the Pacific Coast League is very hitter-friendly, but Colorado Springs takes that to an extreme. Security Service Field is 6,531 feet above sea level, which is the highest elevation of any ballpark in professional baseball, and this season the pitching staff there had a combined 6.41 ERA.
It’s nearly impossible to develop pitching prospects in that environment and even getting an accurate sense of hitting prospects’ abilities is difficult. Former first-round pick Greg Reynolds, who spent most of the season at Triple-A, told Krieger that “the ball doesn’t really do what it’s supposed to do there” and “without even knowing it, you’re trying to do something a little different just to make the ball do what it’s supposed to do.”
In some sense there’s an advantage to be gained in preparing Triple-A prospects to play in the majors’ most hitter-friendly ballpark, but Colorado Springs is still going to be very hitter-friendly with a humidor or not and deflating the numbers a bit should help the pitchers focus more on development rather than simply not getting their brains bashed in.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this:
Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.
Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.
Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”
“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”
“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”
“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”
Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.