I had some additional items to share and related discussion Big Rules Changes Coming to Major League Baseball Next Year: pitch hour, starting limits, change restrictions, and bigger rules.
This includes some initial reactions from Cubs players, including FA representative Ian Hap:
In the end, Happ believes players will adapt over time, and seems to see the potential benefit in limiting those extreme transitions (Sun Times): “I think it will be a more attractive game visually. You will have guys like [Kyle] Schwarber and [Anthony] Rizzo hit the right side at 115 mph. These will be successful, and they must be successful.”
A reminder on that front: While the kinds of transformations where you had three players on one side of second base, including a guy deep in the outer turf, would go away, it’s not as if all the transformations would go away. Since MLB is not supported Flipping the pie slice for anti-shift bases (So far), you’re still seeing a lot of this:
This is still a very important thing to keep in mind: metamorphosis, as a concept, has not been eliminated. You will still see a lot of transformation! The limits being implemented are much more on the sidelines than any terrifying tweets might suggest.
This reminds me. I have what might end up being a very stupid question: Now that the limits of change are coming next year, wouldn’t it be smart for teams that got out of the race to start practicing within the new shift rules, and play that way in games? Why not start getting used to the new reality of the future, if it doesn’t cost you any important games? I suppose I could imagine some responses (you still want to do the best you can for your teammates right now, for example), but working on it sooner rather than later seems like a competitive advantage.
Some data analyzes on how shift limits affect BABIP:
I find these types of analyzes interesting, but I also suspect they are incomplete. These analyzes assume that there are no behavioral changes by hitters (or pitchers) in response to the rules. But BABIP isn’t the only (or even basic?) issue at stake.
In other words, I’m sure MLB is aiming to make some long-term behavioral changes: specifically, reduce sell-offs to get big pulling power into the two-stroke arithmetic, given the calculus of whether it’s “worth” just trying to put the ball in In play, instead of continuing to try to knock out a zinger, you will have changed.
We know that players can’t just flip a switch and change directivity of their contact, which is always what makes “Just hit it the other way!” silly stuff. But we also know that players can influence their level of contact on the sidelines, if in some numbers their focus is simply to put the ball into play (which would be more rewarded in a limited-shift system). More than that, we’re talking about changes over a long horizon, as players will be selected and developed for the new system, not just players trying to make adjustments from year to year.
I’m not sure why no one is talking about a possible reduction in strikes linked to the change limits. I don’t think I’m crazy because it’s one of the factors, at least in a small way.
As for the pitch hour, Suggested by Mark Leiter Jr. to The Sun Times He was certainly not a fan, particularly of limiting the disengagement with rubber, calling it a “fatal mistake.” Aside from the potential positive impact on the base stolen attempts (yes, please), I’m not sure how you can have the pitch clock without a rule on how many rubber capture/disengage attempts a bowler can get. Otherwise, the clock does nothing: the shooter can continue to go outside to reset the clock.
By the way, no one seems to have any problem with larger bases. It’s just a good, safe and smart idea.
For more reading about the rule changes, see a good grab for FanGraphs:
The money paragraph ends: “This is what working sports leagues do: When competitive incentives to the rules make the game less entertaining, they change the rules to correct the problem. This is how the NBA got the kick-off clock, why FIFA implemented the back-pass rule, and the NHL took the streak Red. Changes like baseball have been long overdue; if these rules are half as impactful as they appear on paper, 2023 will be a watershed season.”