The new pace of play rules aren’t disruptive, make a lot of sense and may actually work

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The new rules about batters staying in the box and pitchers being ready to pitch immediately after the commercial break ends have just been announced. You can read all about them here. Here are my initial thoughts:

Outside of increased pitching changes — which really can’t practically be eliminated — I suspect that batters stepping out of the box after every pitch is the biggest driver of slow games. We talk about slow pitchers more often, but they can’t get set and look in for a sign until the batter is ready. Forcing the batter to stay in the box will force him to get ready more quickly which will speed the pitchers up too, I suspect.

I do, however, think there are too many exceptions to the stay-in-the-box rule. As it is, batters are only required to stay in the box only on called balls and called strikes, and I feel like there is no reason why batters should be allowed to step out when they swing and miss or foul one off. Let the umpire decide if the swing was so damn violent that the batter needs some recombobulation time, but otherwise get on with it, ya know?

All of that said, I think starting conservatively is always a good idea when it comes to rules changes. And I do think that even having a limited number of situations in which a batter must stay in the box will encourage a lot more staying-in-the-box than we expect. That’s because I don’t think most batters view stepping out of the box as some strategic choice. Sure, sometimes they’re trying to mess with a pitcher’s rhythm, but not too often, and it’s obvious when they’re doing it. I think it’s mostly just a habit/rhythm thing they do. If we start to change their habits on called balls and strikes, I bet batters just start staying in the box more anyway because that’s the new rhythm. We’ll see.

As for the rules about pitchers warming up more quickly, the addition of a clock for those purposes and the requirement that everyone be ready togo after the commercial break is over: that’ll be more initially disruptive, I bet. But given that it’s about preparation and not actual game play, I suspect that they’ll adjust to it fairly quickly and it’ll just become a new normal.

In the short term, yes, some batters will complain about not being able to step out (I have David Ortiz in the pool) and some pitchers will claim about being rushed in their warmup routines. But all-in-all these are pretty minor changes to players’ routines that could, if my above suspicions prove accurate, speed up the game fairly significantly.

Video reviews overturn 42% rate; Boston most successful

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NEW YORK (AP) Video reviews overturned 42.4% of calls checked during Major League Baseball’s shortened regular season, down slightly from 44% in 2019.

Boston was the most successful team, gaining overturned calls on 10 of 13 challenges for 76.9%. The Chicago White Sox were second, successful on eight of 11 challenges for 72.7%, followed by Kansas City at seven of 10 (70%).

Pittsburgh was the least successful at 2 of 11 (18.2%), and Toronto was 7 of 25 (28%).

Minnesota had the most challenges with 28 and was successful on nine (32.1%). The New York Yankees and Milwaukee tied for the fewest with nine each; the Yankees were successful on five (55.6%) and the Brewers three (33.3%).

MLB said Tuesday there were 468 manager challenges and 58 crew chief reviews among 526 total reviews during 898 games. The average time of a review was 1 minute, 25 seconds, up from 1:16 the previous season, when there 1,186 manager challenges and 170 crew chief reviews among 1,356 reviews during 2,429 games.

This year’s replays had 104 calls confirmed (19.8%), 181 that stood (34.4%) and 223 overturned. An additional 12 calls (2.3%) were for rules checks and six (1.1%) for recording keeping.

In 2019 there were 277 calls confirmed (12.5%), 463 that stood (34.1%) and 597 overturned. An additional nine calls (0.7%) were for rules checks and 10 (0.7%) for record keeping.

Expanded video review started in 2014.