MLB may implement an 18 second pitch clock with runners on base.

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Major League Baseball will cut the playing time for runners next year to 18 seconds from 20, major league sources confirmed Wednesday.

The league expects the change to be an average of five minutes away from games.

In the year In the 2023 regular season, games lasted an average of 2 hours and 40 minutes, with MLB’s fan survey identifying 2 hours and 30 minutes as the best game length. The change is intended to push game times toward that mark.

MLB has long had the ability to implement rule changes. In the year It created an 11-member competition committee – six club representatives, four players and one referee – to handle the 2022 labor agreement process. The committee technically has 45 days to consider proposals, but extensions are possible, making the start of fall training a tight deadline for implementation. Because it has the most votes in the committee, MLB ultimately controls the process.

In the year In 2023, the first season of the pitch clock, MLB reduced the average time of a nine-inning game by 24 minutes, from 3 hours, 4 minutes. The clock runs 15 seconds between pitches with no one on, sources said.

This news was first reported by ESPN.

What is the reason for shortening the time?

There are several reasons. One is that as the season progresses, playing time gradually lengthens as players adjust to the game clock. The average time per game was 2:36 in April but peaked at 2:44 in September.

But the second factor is the fact that pitchers don’t allow nearly zero runners on base at any given time. With men, piercers delivered pitches with an average of 7.3 seconds left on the clock. So M.L.B. He believes that the pace can be made more intense without significantly affecting how pitches and hitters approach the bat.

How much will this change next season?

Very likely. The Competition Committee still has to go through the formal process of studying and discussing this change. But the committee has the power to implement the rule without owner approval or negotiations with the players’ union, so there doesn’t seem to be an obstacle preventing 18 seconds from reaching 2024.

Are there players on it?

The players actually prefer a uniform clock, with the time between pitches being the same on every pitch – so the 18-second limit is likely to be their choice for both runners and no-ones, sources said. But the players may lose that argument because they are outnumbered on the tournament committee.

The players expressed concern about the increased time in the field due to pitcher injuries this season. But MLB says there is no evidence linking the time to a pitcher’s injury rate.

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(Photo: Mark Hoffman / USA Today)

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