By Anna Claire Dean
Major League Baseball added a new pitch clock at the start of the 2023 regular season, as an effort to speed up game-play, keep fans entertained and bring many fans back to the ballparks on game days.
The new pitch clock, which was tested in the minor leagues throughout 2022, required pitchers to deliver their pitch within 15 seconds with no runners on base and within 20 seconds with bases occupied. Should the pitcher fail to deliver the pitch within the time frame, a ball would be added to the batter’s count.
The pitch clock also required batters to be in the box, ready to hit, before the pitch clock reached eight seconds. If the batter failed to do so, a strike would be added to their count. As of May 2023, there was an average of only 0.72 pitch clock violations per game.
Along with the new pitch clock rules, pitchers were also given a limit on how many times they could disengage, or attempt to pick-off base runners. Pitchers became limited to only two disengagements per batter. If the pitcher decided to disengage for a third time, he would have to successfully record an out. In the case of a pitcher being unsuccessful on the third attempt, it would be ruled a balk and the runner would be rewarded a free base. This rule may have made it easier for runners to steal bases, which would account for the stolen base percentage in the 2023 regular season being up by 40 percent, compared to the 2022 regular season.
To go along with the stolen base percentage being up by 40 percent, the percentage of runs scored was also up by eight percent compared to the 2022 regular season. More big innings and comebacks throughout the season were likely direct effects of this because the pitch clock caused pitchers to no longer have the time to slow themselves down, ultimately causing them to not be able to slow down the opposing team’s offense like they had in years past, too. This may have caused pitchers to have to go through their pre-pitch routines quicker, making more room for mistake and error, which could very well be the cause of the big innings and comebacks that baseball fans saw throughout the 2023 regular season.
Things like this, and game times being shortened by 24 minutes on average, seemed to successfully keep fans entertained throughout the whole game again and bring more fans back to Major League Baseball ballparks on game day.
Anna Claire ‘AC’ Dean is a Knight of Honor at Upson-Lee High School where she plays softball for the Lady Knights. She hopes to work toward a career as a sports reporter after graduating in 2026.