MLB’s bigger bases could lead to more steals, fewer injuries Pitch clock violation costs the Braves a walk-off walk
PEORIA, Arizona. Like a violin virtuoso playing a new music stand, third baseman for the San Diego Padres. Manny Machado immediately noticed the difference.
Not only are the bases bigger, they also feel different.
“Of course, it’s definitely different,” said Machado, a two-time Golden Glove winner. “They look better. I just have to keep playing with it, stepping on it and kind of feeling it. But it’s definitely different.”
Larger bases ranging from 15 to 18 inches are part of a series of Major League Baseball changes designed to bring more activity and athleticism back into the game and make it more appealing to a younger generation of potential fans.
When the 11-member baseball committee passed the new rules in September, four players in the group supported larger bases and voted against the use of pitching hours and restrictions on defensive changes.
New bases – “They look like a pizza box,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora, “shortened the distance between the bases by 4 1/2 inches. The distance between the third and the house, as well as the house and the first, was reduced by 3 inches.
Doesn’t sound like much, but the impact can be significant.
Instead of waiting for a three-run homer, major league teams could try a more aggressive approach at the base lanes. Combined with new restrictions on what MLB calls outings — stick tries or rubber moves — it’s more important than ever that pitchers get to the plate quickly and strong catchers stay alert with running backs.
“The run game, the prevention of the run game, that’s what we’ve been talking about and going to keep talking about because… I think the number of base steal attempts should increase significantly,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. said.
Major league teams finished with 2,486 interceptions on 3,297 attempts last year, down from 2,214 interceptions and 2,926 attempts in 2021, but much less than 3,229 interceptions and 4,365 attempts a decade ago in 2012, according to Sportradar.
In testing the junior classes, the two Triple-A leagues used larger bases during half of the 2021 season. One had a 2.2% increase in the number of successful thefts, while the other had a 0.7% increase.
Season 2012 – when Mike Trout led the Majors with 49 stolen bases—the last time the major leagues topped 3,000 steals and 4,000 tries.
“I’ve definitely been thrown out less than (4 1/2) inches … so maybe that’s starting to affect the results,” the Chicago Cubs second baseman said. Nico Hornerwho won a career-best 20 bases in 22 attempts last year.
Of course, it also gives the Majors’ best first basemen an even better chance of keeping runners off base at all.
“I think it might help. It will give me another inch or so of reach on a throw that wants to push me off base,” the Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman said. Christian Walkerwho won his first Golden Glove last year.
In addition to being active on base lanes, Major League Baseball is hoping this change will help reduce injuries. When testing big bases at the Minors from 2021 to 2022, what the league calls “injuries near the bases” is down 13%.
First basemen have more room to avoid stepping on them or pulling their hand back in time to prevent the batter from running down the line. This should also help avoid collisions throughout the diamond.
“When you walk down the field, you don’t really notice it, but as you get closer to the bag, you definitely notice it,” the Cubs baseman said. Eric Hosmer, four-time Golden Glove winner. “It also seems a bit flatter. Not only bigger and longer, but definitely a little flatter.
“But yes, I think it will prevent some injuries, so I think anytime you can even knock that number off one or two guys, it’s worth it.”
Cal Conley of the Atlanta Braves thought he had just won the game with two strikeouts loaded with bases on Saturday. He took a few steps towards first base, still holding the bat, when umpire John Liebka popped out from behind the plate and called the third.
Game over. Conley couldn’t believe it. As did his teammates. The fans booed.
Welcome to 2023, when new baseball rules designed to improve the pace of the game are quickly rolling out to everyone, especially the players.
The most dramatic moment of the new era of clocks on the field came on the first full day of spring games, and in the most dramatic scenario possible. Conley, who faced pitcher Robert Kwiatkowski of the Boston Red Sox, missed the box as the clock showed less than eight seconds.
The penalty is an automatic kick that ended the game in North Port, Florida 6-6. Kwiatkowski got the out with just two real punches.
It was a more dramatic moment than when the San Diego Padres slugger Manny Machado on Friday became the first player to draw a pitching clock violation when he was called for an automatic hit at the bottom of the first inning against Seattle because he didn’t hit the box in time.
The serving clock is one of the new rules designed to speed up the pace of the game. Players will have 30 seconds to resume play between batters. Pitchers have 15 seconds between pitches when there is no one and 20 seconds when there is a base runner. The pitcher must start pitching before the time runs out. After the pitch, the clock restarts when the pitcher returns the ball, the catcher and batter are in a circle around the home court, and the game is otherwise ready to resume.