How the pitch clock would change the greatest moments in MLB history


Kirk Gibson plays the bat in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, from the moment he hobbles out of the dugout to Vin Scully exclaiming, “She’s gone!” when the ball hits the right stand, lasts 6 minutes 48 seconds.

Not that anyone put a timer on this 35 years ago.

Gibson, battling a left hamstring injury and a sore right knee, hit what is arguably the most dramatic home run in World Series history, winning the game against Dennis Eckersley while slowly circling the bases with his iconic celebration.

But how would that and other notable moments filled with post-season drama play out now that we’ll be timing each field with new timing rules coming to MLB in 2023?

The new rules are designed to speed up the game and create a more consistent pace of action. If there are no runners on base, pitchers will have 15 seconds to throw the ball after receiving the ball from the catcher. When runners are at the base, the timer is set to 20 seconds. Pitchers will also only be allowed two “outs” per plate type (attempts to break the ball or move away from the rubber). These changes had a significant impact on the secondary, cutting games by 25 minutes, and as I attended a few minor league games myself in 2022, the faster pace was certainly noticeable and is a necessary change for the game.

These changes will also require major adjustments for major league pitchers who are used to sneaking behind the mound to regroup after each pitch, and hitters who come out and adjust their gloves after every foul ball. I thought about the potential impact of the clock on the field as I watched Gibson play this winter, and I realized how slowly this moment is approaching its climax – Gibson, on two sore legs, is trying to gather himself between innings and somehow do the impossible.

Starting with Gibson’s epic home run, let’s look at a few moments in baseball history and consider how the clock on the field could have changed them.

1988 World Series: Gibson Homers at Eckersley

The dramatic scene of this moment begins as Gibson steps out of the dugout to take the hit, and Vin Scully says “Look who’s coming” as the Dodgers fans get to their feet. It ends when Eckersley’s eighth pitch lands in the right stand and Scully exclaims, “She’s gone!”

The moment unfolds on the nerves of post-season baseball, hoping for some unexpected excitement. Gibson does his practice swings on the deck to relax as Eckersley touches the rubber and A’s manager Tony La Russa paces in front of the bench. Gibson limps to the platform, digs out a prop, steps back out of the box for another swing, and adjusts his helmet, finally done. It’s 1 minute and 17 seconds from Gibson’s first appearance before Eckersley goes into his first pitch stretch as “A” leads the Dodgers 4-3 with two strikeouts at the end of ninth base and Mike Davis at first base.

During the at-bat, Eckersley threw four times to first base, and his catcher, Ron Hussey, also tried to win back Davis on the fourth pitch. Gibson also fouled on four pitches, including a small dribbler on the first base line. Finally, on the eighth inning, almost seven minutes after he first took the ball, Eckersley tried to beat Gibson with a backdoor. Gibson is swinging. And the rest is history.

Let’s count the time elapsed from the time Eckersley received the ball to the time he started his move between each pitch to see what will – and won’t – be allowed with the new 2023 baseball rules.

Serve #1: 1:17 elapses from Gibson exiting the dugout to Eckersley starting his serve. Foul ball.

A note of note here: the rules set a 30-second timer between batters, so Gibson’s measured approach to preparation would be against the rules, though we’ll see what leniency is given to pinch hitters, especially those who aren’t on deck yet, as is the case with Gibson. .

Shot to first base: 25.3 seconds.

Gibson came out of the penalty area after the ball with a foul. Under the new rules, batters must be in the batters’ box and ready to hit with at least eight seconds on the timer. They are allowed one time-out per plate appearance.

Field #2: 18.5 seconds after Eckersley returned the ball to first baseman. Foul ball.

Gibson went out again, but this pitch went right under the clock.

Shot to first base: 19.5 seconds.

Gibson comes out again, Eckersley throws to first base.

Shot to first base: 18.9 seconds

Third alienation. Violation! This will be allowed if the selection is successful; otherwise it will be considered a waiver.

Step #3: 12.4 seconds. Dirty ball

A small dribbler on the first base line. “An effort was made to run this far,” Scully states as Gibson returns to retrieve his bat, informing us that Gibson was too exhausted to even take the field before the game. introductions.

Step #4: 34.4 seconds. Ball.

On the broadcast, we don’t see exactly when Eckersley receives a new ball from the referee, but I estimate 34-35 seconds between innings as Eckersley waits for Gibson to hobble to the batter’s box and get ready. Hassie is trying to make a back pick in this field.

Step #5: 21.3 seconds. Foul ball.

Most of the delays here come from Gibson, not Eckersley. A reminder that the timer affects more than just pitchers.

Step #6: 23.2 seconds. Ball.

Davis was running on the previous pitch, so there’s a slight delay when he gets back to first base and Gibson steps forward to shake his left leg, “making it shake like a horse,” Scully tells us.

Shot to first base: 17.5 seconds.

Another violation! Fourth alienation.

Step #7: 17.7 seconds. Ball.

Davis steals second base. Hussie enters the mound, which is not considered a bout (if a team has used up all five of their mound visits before the ninth inning, they will be allowed a sixth visit).

Step #8: 1:03.6 seconds. Home run.

Thanks to the Hassey-Eckersley meeting, more than a minute between pitches. Hassey comes back and squats down and then Gibson comes out of the box again. It takes 28 seconds from Hussie’s squat to Eckersley’s serve.

Conclusion of the 2023 rules: So let’s see here, according to the 2023 rules: multiple clock violations… Gibson out too many times… Eckersley throws too many times to first base. While there is no doubt that the game needs to speed up, there will also understandably be calls to remove postseason pitching hours.

Indeed, agent Scott Boras had already made the announcement earlier this winter. “The postseason clearly shouldn’t have any pitching hours,” he told reporters. “This is a moment, an important moment. They need to think, they need more time, it’s a different scenario than in the regular season and we don’t want them to be rushed.”

2022 NLCS: Bryce Harper runs from Robert Suarez

Let’s move on to a later point. The hallmark home run of the 2022 postseason was Harper’s eighth-inning NLCS Game 5 go-back that sent the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series. Fans were electrified and loud all day, despite the light drizzle that fell for most of the game, knowing that a victory would mean capturing the pennant in Philadelphia and a loss would send the series back to San Diego. Harper has already hit four home runs in the postseason, and that’s just felt like something big was about to happen. Even John Smoltz, who announced the game, felt it: “Don’t you think that when Bryce Harper signed that mega deal, he had a vision of sending his team to the World Series?”

Step #1: 1:17. Swing and miss.

With a runner on base and the Phillies down 3-2, Harper takes his time, wiping his bat in circles on the deck. Adjusts the batting of the glove. A couple of dirt spots. It turns out. Look at Suarez. More dirt. Suarez leaves. More dirt. Finally, Harper bangs the bat on the plate and he’s done. It took him over 30 seconds.

Step #2: 25.9 seconds. Ball.

Step #3: 22.7 seconds. Foul ball.

Step #4: 23.1 seconds. Foul ball.

Step #5: 25.5 seconds. Foul ball.

Step #6: 28.9 seconds. Ball.

Step #7: 23.1 seconds. Home run.

Seven steps. Neither hit the 20 second rule or even close to it within 20 seconds before Harper hit his NLCS-winning home run.

Conclusion of the 2023 rules: What will it look like in 2023 if Harper doesn’t adjust his gloves and Suarez doesn’t take very deep breaths between each pitch?

Watching Harper take his time wiping his bat in the rain, tapping his plate, and adjusting his gloves is a good example of why pitching hours aren’t just for pitchers. In fact, perhaps the biggest adjustments here will have to come from the batters. MLB reported that the average fastball speed for minors remained the same in 2022 as it was in 2021 – 93.0 mph – so it’s possible that pitcher speed won’t suffer as some have suggested (we’ll see about the team).

Strikers who constantly come out to adjust their gloves and contemplate their next serve will have to speed up their approach.

The Baseball Savant website keeps track of a number for each pitcher called the pitching pace, which is the time between pitches. This is not exactly the same as the pitch timer, as it measures the total time between pitch releases. We can subtract about six seconds from this number to use it as a proxy for the pitch timer.

They also have a pitching rate listed for 378 batters. The three slowest players with empty bases in 2022 were Christian Vazquez, JD Martinez and Mark Cagna. Harper, Pete Alonso and Kyle Tucker are three stars at the bottom. Overall, however, only nine batters averaged 15 seconds or more between pitches using our adjusted methodology. It’s worth noting that among the base runners, four of the eight slowest were the Mets: Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Alonso and Canha.

2001 World Series: Arizona Diamondbacks…


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