MLB makes extra-innings ghost runner rule permanent for regular-season games, per report

The Major League Baseball tiebreaker rule that a runner is automatically placed on second base to start each extra inning is now permanent. reports ESPN. The MLB Joint Competition Committee voted unanimously to make this rule permanent for the regular season only and for the regular season only. Postseason games will still include “regular” play in extra innings.

MLB first used the over-innings rule during the 2020 60-game pandemic season to cut game times and reduce injury risk following an unusual halt to spring training and a midsummer pitching period. The rule remained on a temporary basis in 2021 and 2022 and has now become permanent.

Historically, approximately 10 percent of regular season games have gone to extras. Last year, 223 of the 2,430 regular season games were played by extra opportunities, or 9.2 percent. Under the over-innings rule, only seven games have been played out of 13 innings in the past three seasons. There were 37 13-inning games in 2019 alone, the last year with “regular” extra-inning rules.

The longest game with an extra-inning tie-break rule was the 16-inning game between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 25 last year. On August 9, the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners played a 13-inning game in which the Yankees sent only seven batters to the plate in three innings because the auto runner kept making base-crossing errors and running into strikeouts.

An automatic runner placed at second base in extra innings does not count as an earned run for the pitcher. The runner is credited with the run earned, but not the time on base, and thus does not receive a boost to his on-base percentage. A batter who rides an automatic runner is assigned an RBI.

The 11-member MLB Joint Competition Committee is composed of six team representatives, four player representatives, and one referee representative. Given the composition of the committee, MLB is free to push through any rule change proposals it wants, although the extra-innings tie-break was approved unanimously. The people in the game clearly like this rule more than most fans.

The International Baseball Federation, the governing body of Olympic and international baseball competitions, has used a variant of the over-innings tie-break rule for decades.


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