Some of MLB’s worst teams had something to play for Sunday

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With the new collective bargaining agreement came a new incentive for teams to play poorly: locking up a protected first round draft pick. In the old CBA, the first 15 first-round picks were protected. In the new one, only ten are protected. If a team with a protected pick signs a free agent who received a qualifying offer, that team does not have to surrender its first round draft pick as compensation.

Teams with the ten worst records secured themselves a protected pick. Entering today’s action, the Astros, Marlins, White Sox, Twins, Cubs, Mariners, and Phillies had already locked one up. The Rockies, Mets, Blue Jays, and Brewers entered Sunday’s contests playing for the remaining three spots. In the event of a tie, the team with the worse 2012 record gets preference.

With all of Sunday’s action finalized, here are your protected pick standings:

Team W L Win%
1 Houston Astros 51 111 .315
2 Miami Marlins 62 100 .383
3 Chicago White Sox 63 99 .389
4 Minnesota Twins 66 96 .407
5 Chicago Cubs 66 96 .407
6 Seattle Mariners 71 91 .438
7 Philadelphia Phillies 73 89 .451
8 Colorado Rockies 74 88 .457
9 Toronto Blue Jays 74 88 .457
10 New York Mets 74 88 .457
11 Milwaukee Brewers 74 88 .457

Last year, the Rockies had a .395 winning percentage, the Jays .451, the Mets .457, and the Brewers .512. Unfortunately for the Brewers, they finish on the outside looking in.

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

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NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.