The Major League Baseball Competition Committee voted this afternoon on new rules that will implemented in the 2023 season. What are we going to see that’s new? Well, there will be no more extreme shifting. There will be a pitch clock to limit how long between pitches a pitcher can hold the ball. And baserunning could look quite different thanks to both a limit on the number of pickoff attempts and larger bases.

No More Shifting

So there is a little bit of shifting that can and will happen, but not like we are used to seeing. The new rules state that the four infielders must all have both feet on the dirt (or infield grass) when the pitch is released and that two infielders must be on each side of the second base bag.

That means no more third baseman standing 75 feet deep into right field. It will very likely open up the right side of the infield for singles on what’s traditionally been a single for 95% of the history of baseball. What probably won’t change is that the single up the middle coming back like it used to. Teams can still put the shortstop or second baseman pretty much right up the middle like they often do now.

The penalty for a violation here is that the hitting team can “re-do” the play with a ball being awarded to the batter or the team can decline the penalty and accept the play as it happened (which may be beneficial in some scenarios such as a play where a run scores even if the batter was out on the play). If a violation occurs and the batter reaches base and the runners who were on base advance then the play lives as it happened.

This new rule may have a slight change in how teams value defensive players at both shortstop and second base as it could make it slightly more difficult to hide less rangy players at these positions.

The Pitch Clock

The pitch clock applies to both hitters and pitchers. Pitchers have 15 seconds between pitches (when there wasn’t contact made on the previous pitch) when no one is on base and they will have 20 seconds between pitches when someone is on base. Hitters must be in the batters box with at least 8 seconds remaining on the pitch clock. A violation will result in a ball being awarded to the batter if the violation is on the pitcher or a strike being awarded to the pitcher if the violation is on the batter.

The Pickoff Limitation

Pitchers are now limited to the number of times they can step off of the rubber. A team gets two “disengagements” from the mound per plate appearance. That includes a pickoff attempt, stepping off of the rubber for any other purpose (non-medical check from trainers, or pitching coach visits), or a defensive time request (such as when the outfielder is attacked by bees). If a pitcher attempts a pickoff for a third disengagement and does not succeed in picking off the runner, that’s when the penalty occurs (the play is then ruled as a balk).

This will probably lead to more stolen base attempts and probably a higher success rate, too.

Larger Bases

Bases are currently 15 inches. Next season they will be 18 inches. What this does is two things – first, it gives fielders slightly more wiggle room on plays at the bag to avoid contact with baserunners. But it’s also decreasing the distance between the bases by 6 inches. That could lead to a few more stolen bases.

The Voting

The Players portion on the competition committee chose to vote against eliminating the shift as well as the pitch clock. Here is the statement from the MLBPA:

Players live the game – day in and day out. On-field rules and regulations impact their preparation, performance, and ultimately, the integrity of the game itself. Player leaders from across the league were engaged in on-field rules negotiations through the Competition Committee, and they provided specific and actionable feedbacks on the changes proposed by the Commissioner’s Office. Major League Baseball was unwilling to meaningfully address the areas of concern that Players raised, and as a result, Players on the Competition Committee voted unanimously against the implementation of the rules covering defensive shifts and the use of a pitch timer.

What the release did not get into was what the changes that they proposed in those areas would be. It simply states that they had different ideas in those areas that MLB didn’t want to really move onto.

68 Responses

  1. tim

    the first person i can think of that banning the shift will help is joey votto, in his last year. the shift took countless hits away from him.

  2. Chris B

    Doug, thanks for the update on the new rules. However I don’t know why the players would vote against “eliminating the shit” LOL. I read all your stuff and rarely see spelling omissions or errors so this made me laugh.

    • Mac624

      More pitchers than hitters, I’m sure the pitchers all voted to keep it!

  3. Craig Z


    You left out an f in shift in the first sentence under The Voting.

    • PTBNL

      oops. Maybe that was intentional. 😉

    • LDS

      Haha, does that mean he has to warn himself about language and threaten a ban?

  4. Daytonnati

    Offsides in baseball? So I am wondering if we’ll see infielders breaking in one direction or another on a released pitch?

    I’m good so far, but we also need Robo-ump.

  5. LDS

    Sad really. Robo-umps, when they arrive, will make baseball more and more video game like. And more boring. Who wants to pay the escalating ticket prices to watch a mediocre team burn through a game in 90 minutes? At this rate, little league games will be more interesting. At least, you expect the kids to have a lot to learn.

    • MK

      It has knocked 30 minutes off minor league games. You really don’t notice much difference until you look at the clock at the end of the game.

      It will be interesting to see how teams can incorporate outfielders more in their shifting plans.

      • LDS

        Higher prices/shorter games. And watching the battles between the pitchers and guys like Morgan, Coleman, Brock et al were fun. So now they wait a couple of attempts and run freely. The psychology and strategy elements of the game are on their last legs. Oh well, as someone said, I’m a dinosaur, but at least the game wasn’t “gamified” and dumbed down in my youth.

      • MK

        The running freely has not been a thing in the games I’ve watched. Thought the same thing myself when season started but did not come to pass.

        What you do miss is a guy like Jay Bruce walking halfway back to the dugout after every pitch, or Sean Casey going through his stretching routine each pitch and tightening and I untightening his batting gloves five times after each pitch. You now will get the same action for nine innings like always. I had season tickets for 8 years and gave them up because I and my wife were having issues getting to bed after midnight and getting up going to work the next morning.

  6. Daytonnati

    I used to feel that way, but it seems the umpiring has declined to the point where they are necessary. Pro tennis did away with a lot of player tantrums and controversy with their version.

    I wondered if instead of doing away with the shift, that MLB should have made it like the 3 batter rules for relief pitchers. It is okay to shift, but you have to remain in the shift for three batters. That could have been fun.

  7. Klugo

    Dumb, Dumb, not dumb, not dumb.

    “…eliminating the shit as well…”
    Language, Doug, language.

    • LT

      It might be an intentional typo:) either way, it still cracked me up. I didn’t finish reading the article.

  8. Rut

    I like all the changes except the bases being made bigger and pick off limits.

    Those 6 inches will make a big difference– think about all the bang-bang plays that now will be clearly safe. Best chance to get guys out will be keeping the tag on for when the runners foot pops off the bag — and guess what? That requires a challenge most times, slowing the game down. So the competitive difference is going to be too skewed for the runner, and there will be more replay reviews which does the opposite of the intended effect to speed up the game.

    • DataDumpster

      Think of all the bang-bang plays that were only that because the SS or 3B was throwing the ball from left field. There will be a lot of unintended consequences. What happens after second pick off attempt? A good runner will get a really big lead. Then, we will have the walk off wins with no pitch being thrown (pitcher runs out the pitch clock or steps off the rubber). How many of these rules have been tested out in AAA?

      • Doug Gray

        After the second pick off attempt you can still throw over, but you better be sure you pick them off. Getting a really big lead doesn’t work because they can still throw over there and if you are out, you are out.

        All of these rules have been tested in the minors. Some for several years.

        I’ve updated the article to reflect a third “disengagement” or pickoff attempt.

    • MBS

      I might be visualizing this wrong, but wouldn’t it be 4.5 inches closer from 1B to 2B, as well as from 2B to 3B? So the corner bags won’t go over the foul line, so there is you’re 3 inches, but 2B’s extra 3 inch with would be split in half, right? 1.5 inches per side. The corners would be 3 inches closer to home, so maybe a return of the speedy guys, instead of just HR hitters.

      • MBS

        cancel that 3 inch closer to home, they’ll probably keep home to 1B as is, and the extra 3 inches tacked onto the opposite side of the bag. If they didn’t it would really change the dynamic of infield hits.

      • Doc

        You are correct. 1B to 2B would be 4.5” closer if the center pegs of the bases remain the same.

      • MK

        By the same token the throw from an infielder to first is also closer and the thrown ball is faster than a runner so it could help the defense. All this is speciation at this point.

    • Jimbo44CN

      Agree, don’t like either of those myself

    • MK

      They are trying to add offense but they say the larger bag creates a safety factor, which I really don’t get.

  9. LT

    More rule changes and baseball will become a different game

    • Doc

      Baseball is a far different game today than it was 50, 100, 150 years ago. Whose is to judge that today’s version is the best it has ever been? Not I, but for me, it was a far better game in the past.

  10. Mark Moore

    Still digesting all of this. I’m all for increasing the pace of play. The 6″ decrease will have some significant impact for a while, then nobody will notice it because it will be the new norm.

    As for the shift storm … 😀

  11. Bob Purkey

    My feelings on the shift elimination has been stated before, but I hate the fact that the defense can no longer place a fielder where the batter constantly hits the ball due to the fact that they can’t “hit’em where they ain’t.”

    I liken it to making sure that football safeties are told that they can’t play inside the hashmarks because it has become too difficult to complete post patterns. . .

    • Doug Gray

      But it’s not like that, Bob. It’s like telling the left-handed quarterback that he has to roll out only to the right side when he’s being pressured and throw across his body and the field.

      The shift only changes how one set of hitters – left handed ones – have to “play” and “adjust”. Righties don’t have to learn to “hit it where they aint” and can pull the ball every single at-bat and not be punished for it because you can’t make the throw from shallow left field over to first base in time to get a runner unless it’s Sean Casey thinking his line drive was caught by a leaping infielder and he turns around and walks towards the dugout.

  12. Bob Purkey

    Doug: I disagree. . . to a degree. They do shift on RH too, just not to the same rate.

    Call me old school, I have trouble with players, who are making millions, crying about a fielder standing in the spot where they hit the ball constantly.

    • Doug Gray

      They don’t shift at all in the same kind of way, though. In football terms, it’s like having a rule where the safety has to play within 10 yards of the LOS against righties but can play any distance from the LOS against lefties. Sure, safeties can still play off of the line, but the way the rule changes how one has to play is vastly different.

      And let’s also back off of the “players who are making millions” when more than half of the players in the league don’t make $1M a season.

      • Bob Purkey

        I don’t begrudge anyone and the amount of money they make. If someone is willing to pay you, you earned it!

        What my gripe is a professional complaining because they can’t develop their skills enough to make the defense pay for overplaying you. Instead, they complain about how many hits that they’ve lost.

    • 2024WSChamps

      You are missing the entire point. The Problem of the shift has always been its impact on Left Handed hitters. Doug is right, the impact is very one-sided, both the data and simply using your eyes support that. Why should only lefties have to change the entire way they swing? Besides, it has made the game less exciting to watch. Seeing a 2nd baseman stand 50 feet in the outfield grass because 40-year-old Votto is slow has been aggravating to watch. I am not sure if this plan is the best course of action (maybe they could expand the amount of “dirt” on the field), but something had to be done.

      I think the other positive that will come from this is a renewed emphasis on rangy, quality infield defenders. Infield defense has been in decline since the shift. I grew up enamored by defenders like dat dude BP and Cozart up the middle. Seeing 250lb 2nd baseman like Moose isn’t nearly as fun to watch, sorry.

  13. Eric the Red

    I’m not sure I understand the point above about “be sure you pick them off” if you throw over after your allotted disengagements. There’s no penalty if you pick them off on the third throw over? What happens if you throw over a third time and don’t pick them off? Thanks for clarifying—I haven’t seen this anywhere else and I’m not familiar with how it’s been working in the Minors.

    • Doug Gray

      There is no penalty if you pick them off on the 3rd attempt. But if you do make a 3rd attempt and do not pick them off, it’s a balk.

      • Eric the Red

        Thanks for the info. I’m surprised this doesn’t have a huge impact on stolen bases. (Which I think would be a good thing, within reason.) After two disengagements, I’d expect the base runner would have to take a crazy lead to draw a throw from most pitchers.

  14. Greenfield Red

    I believe this is good for the game. More emphasis on running. Bunting will return to the game. Less home runs. More singles. Guys actually hitting .300 again. I’m all for it.

    There was talk of pushing the rubber back to 61 feet (from 60.5). I my opinion, that could be the next change.

  15. doofus

    I was amazed to see the low number of strikeouts and high walk numbers, combined with an exceptional number of HRs and RBIs that players like Frank Robinson, Joe Morgan, etc. put up in their prime seasons. They were “complete” hitters.

    Today’s hitters are focused more on launch angle and exit velo, period. Strikeouts are up and everyone pulls the ball. Hence, the shi(f)t evolved.

    Now it will be fixed with “limited” shi(f)ts.

    Learning to choke up, hitting to the opposite field, hitting behind the runner or executing a hit and run play have faded away.

    I am a numbers guy, made a career at it. Analytics are good. However, sometimes paralysis can come from over analysis. I think that is what has happened to today’s game.

    • Doug Gray

      Pitchers throwing 90 MPH sliders is what has happened to today’s game that makes hitting so much harder than it was 40 years ago. That and the usage of the bullpen where hitters don’t get to face hardly anyone but the absolute best of the best starters alive a third time.

      The game so many people want to come back simply isn’t ever going to come back unless they move the mound back, which would negate velocity, or limit the number of pitchers on a pitching staff to something like 10 pitchers which would then require guys to “hold back” more of their stuff because they would be forced to stay in games longer.

      Hitters aren’t the problem. Pitchers are the problem. And there’s no real fix to it short of finding a way to make them be less good.

      • Melvin

        Instead of moving the mound back maybe a better idea would be to lower it as was done in the past.

      • greenmtred

        maybe measuring velocity when the pitch crosses the plate instead of when it leaves the pitcher’s hand would solve the problem? hitting approach has clearly changed. if the pitchers are so much better, wouldn’t shorter, more controlled swings be the logical response?

      • doofus

        Some of what you say is plausible; however, when I see a guy like Eugenio Suarez (and he is not the only one) who has NO concept of how to hit with two-strikes, corkscrew himself into the ground as he flails away at a pitch off the plate; his head looking into the third base stands after his swing and miss (not keeping his head on the ball)…you have an incomplete hitter.

        Pitchers still need to command what they throw, not all of them do, yet hitters still swing away.

        You write as if all relievers are super-pitchers, really?

      • doofus

        @greenmtred “if the pitchers are so much better, wouldn’t shorter, more controlled swings be the logical response?”

        Stop it! You are making too much sense.

  16. doofus

    Limiting the number and length of commercial timeouts will also speed up the game.

  17. MBS

    “I might be visualizing this wrong, but wouldn’t it be 4.5 inches closer from 1B to 2B, as well as from 2B to 3B? So the corner bags won’t go over the foul line, so there is you’re 3 inches, but 2B’s extra 3 inch with would be split in half, right? 1.5 inches per side.”

    I posted this above, but I think it’ll get lost in the messages, and I really want to know if I’m seeing this right in my mind.

    • Greenfield Red

      I agree MBS. 4.5 inches closer between 1st and 2nd and between 2nd and 3rd.

      What about home to 1st and 3rd to home? I guess 1.5 inches closer on both in order to keep exact right angles on the basepaths.

      Could not come at a better time for a guy like Siani. Elite defense will be more valuable as well as speed on the bases. Taylor made for a guy with those qualities but a fringe hit tool.

      • Mark Moore

        See my post with the “math” below. It’s 3″ closer for 1st and 3rd to home, 6″ closer between 1st and 2nd and 2nd and 3rd.

  18. DataDumpster

    Two asides or food for thought:
    1) If these new rules do help speed up the game, are there any “rules, contractual issues, etc.” that will prevent the number and length of commercials from NOT increasing?
    2) The Committee hashing out these rules consisted of six MLB execs, four MLB player reps, and one MLB umpire rep. All MLB player reps voted against the adoption of the rules (but it didn’t really matter, did it?)

    • Mark Moore

      I’ve found commercials only run for whatever length necessary to fill the gap between end of an inning and ready to start the next inning. I’ve often seen a commercial get “dumped” part way through to return to the game. So I really don’t anticipate any change there.

      Interesting that nobody from the MLBPA voted in favor of any of the changes.

  19. Mark Moore

    I believe the math on the base size change is as follows:

    The baselines are all still 90′ and run from far corner to far corner (e.g. back tip of home plate to the back corner of 1B. So 1st and 3rd are now 3″ closer to the near sides.

    1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd remain 90′ from the back corner of 2B to the back corners of 1B/3B on the base lines, so each of them lose 6″ of space total since all bases are now 18″.

    As we saw last night, 6″ less and Barrero would have been safe. And the “oven mitts” are already obnoxiously long, so that just increases the advantage for those wearing them.

    • MBS

      I didn’t know it that the 90′ were to the end of the bag, I always assumed it was the front. So yes, It would seem as if it is a 6″ gain. Thanks,

    • Mark Moore

      OK, looks like a slight clarification is in order. Multiple sites I’ve checked says home to 1st and 3rd are like I said, but 1st to 2nd and 3rd back to second are the the middle of the bag. Seems a little odd as this means the diamond isn’t an exact square then, but that still decreases the distance by 6″ total in the middle an 3″ down the lines.

      Here’s one site I found that explains the measurement process:

      • Mark Moore

        Thinking through this again (too much time on my hands today), the increase in diameter of the base is 3″, so it would be 4.5″ (about) from 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd given the measurement is to the middle of second. First base grows the full 3″ in just one direction as does 3rd base. 2nd base grows in two directions.

        Either way, Barrero would have been safe on that close play unless he just couldn’t keep his hand/oven mitt on the bag (again).

        Is it baseball time yet?

  20. BK

    The Athletic has an article with some of the players’ concerns with the new rules:

    I like the rule changes, and the league can tweak them/change them as necessary. MLB’s most significant issue is a lack of competitive balance, but the pace of play and length of games have trended in the wrong direction for years. I’m glad to see an attempt to address these issues.

    • Mark Moore

      Too bad the Athletic is a paid subscription and I’m too cheap to pony up for it 😀

      • MBS

        I had it, wasn’t worth it for me. If I was a Bengals fan to, then maybe, but a lot of downtime if all you want is Reds coverage.

  21. VegasRed

    These changes should help the reds particularly because they have gotten much younger and athletic with the rebuild. Just look at the sb totals in the Mil games. The best athletes should play over the base cloggers.

    While Joey is at the end of his career perhaps this helps him go out with successful season.

  22. Doc4uk

    Helps pull hitters and especially left handed hitters. Of the current Reds, Fraley and Votto would seem to benefit the most.

  23. docproc

    I’m all for all these changes. And I’m 66 years old. Lance McAllister wondered if only “youngsters” would like these changes. I’m a senior and I’m so ready for the game to speed up.

  24. JayTheRed

    Really hope this helps batting averages and increases stolen bases. In my baseball life starting 1988 I have seen a good player is only someone who is hitting .300 and hits for power too. Now guys are hitting like .260 and hitting for power and that is considered good. Way too many players are batting under .200 to be at the major league level. Hoping the changes made today help. Not a fan of the pitch clock but that’s because I was a pitcher in high school, and I know it would annoy me.

  25. RedsGettingBetter

    Related to pitch clock what is the time control if the batter fouled the ball off to the next pitch? The same 15 seconds? When the batter hit the ball in play whether it ends safe or out so when the 15 seconds are started to be counted?
    I think this rule is the more complex to control…

  26. CI3J

    I’m happy they finally banned the shift. It’s been completely unfair to left-handed hitters for far too long.

    I also like the larger bases. Should lead to more exciting baserunning.

    I also think limiting the time a pitcher can disengage from the rubber is a great change. It will lead to some real psychological battles if the pitcher has already disengaged twice and he looks over and see the runner has taken a huge lead. Risk the balk and try to pick them off? Or hurry up and pitch before the clock runs out?

    Which brings me to the one thing I have questions about, the pitch clock, specifically, the hitters being in the box with 8 seconds to spare. Is this going to lead to challenges from coaches where they’re going to argue that a hitter’s foot was slightly out of the box with 8 seconds to go, and it needs to be reviewed in slow motion to see if a strike should be awarded? Also, are umpires really going to enforce the times now? Pitch clocks have been a thing for a few years now, but they’ve been mostly ignored by everyone. I like the idea in theory, but I’m really curious to see how strict the enforcement is.

    Up next: Lowering or moving the mound back, and robo umps.