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Pitch clock

A pitch clock displayed at Werner Park in 2015

A pitch clock (also known as a pitch timer)[1] is used in various baseball leagues to limit the amount of time a pitcher uses before he throws the ball to the hitter and/or limit the amount of time the hitter uses before he is prepared to hit.

Various baseball leagues and tournaments around the world have started using a pitch clock to speed up the pace of play. Major League Baseball (MLB) began using a pitch clock in the 2023 season following a period of tests on MLB partner leagues, minor league baseball, and college baseball.[2][citation needed]

History

In college baseball, the Southeastern Conference experimented with using pitch clocks in 2010. Pitchers were given twenty seconds to throw the pitch, or a ball would be added to the count. Similarly, a batter stepping out of the batter's box with less than five seconds on the clock will be assessed an additional strike.[3] After the 2010 season, the National Collegiate Athletic Association sought to make the pitch clocks mandatory,[4] and instituted it for the 2011 college baseball season, but only for when there are no runners on base.[5]

Pitch clocks made their professional debut in the Arizona Fall League in 2014. On January 15, 2015, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced it would institute a 20-second pitch clock in Minor League Baseball for Double-A and Triple-A teams during the 2015 season.[6] Pitchers were given twenty seconds to throw the pitch, with the penalty of a ball awarded to the batter if not followed.[7] Along with other rule changes addressing the pace of play, the clocks contributed to a 12-minute reduction in game times at those levels between the 2014 and 2015 seasons, compared to the leagues that did not use the clock, which saw game times change from an increase of three minutes per game to a decrease in five minutes per game.[8] Game times increased in 2016 and 2017, but were still faster than games in 2014.[9] The independent Atlantic League began using a 12-second pitch clock.[10]

The outfield pitch clock at American Family Field is seen in the center of the image on the pillar in September 2022; here, it indicates that seven seconds remain in a television timeout between innings.

Major League Baseball

MLB and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) discussed the possibility of introducing the pitch clock at the major league level for the 2018 season.[9] MLB opted against imposing it unilaterally, over the opposition of the MLBPA.[11] MLB implemented a 20-second pitch clock in spring training games in 2019.[12][13] The collective bargaining agreement reached to end the 2021–22 Major League Baseball lockout included the possibility of introducing a pitch clock as of the 2023 MLB season. Four active players, six persons appointed by MLB, and one umpire were formed into a Joint Competition Committee to review and recommend any changes to playing rules.[14]

On September 8, 2022, MLB announced a set of rules changes that took effect in 2023, including the use of a pitch clock.[15] Pitchers would have 15 seconds between pitches when there are no baserunners and 20 seconds when there is at least one baserunner. Additionally, the batter will have seven seconds to be in the stance, ready to hit, otherwise a strike will be called. The clock starts when the pitcher gets the ball and the catcher and batter are ready.[16]

In addition to its primary use to time pitches, the clock is used to indicate the time remaining in a media timeout for commercials (usually between each half of an inning), and also to time the warmup period on the mound for a relief pitcher coming out of the bullpen. There are multiple clocks displayed throughout a major league stadium on the same timing system to allow full visibility of the pitch clock for players, coaches, umpires, press, and spectators throughout the venue, with implementation within the graphics of television broadcasts to be determined at the start of the season.

The first 400 Major League Baseball games during the 2023 season were, on average, about 30 minutes shorter than the first 400 of the previous season. In addition, the standard deviation of game times was down significantly. The game length distribution had not been this consistent since the 1942 season.[17]

Marcus Stroman of the Chicago Cubs became the first pitcher to violate the pitch clock during the regular season, during the third inning of the 2023 opening day game against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Baltimore Orioles' Austin Hays was the first batter to receive a strike call due to a time infraction, while Rafael Devers of the Boston Red Sox was the first to be called for a strikeout.[18]

MLB postseason games in the first year of the pitch clock were 21 minutes shorter on average than postseason games in the previous year, with more runs and stolen bases.[19]

In December 2023 it was reported that MLB competition committee had approved a rule change that reduced the pitch clock from 20 to 18 seconds with runners on base, beginning in the 2024 season.[20]

Other leagues

The Japan Amateur Baseball Association, which organizes most Japanese adult baseball outside Nippon Professional Baseball and its minor league teams, decided to adopt the pitch clock after MLB's success in 2023 Spring Training.[21]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Pitch Timer (2023 rule change) | Glossary". MLB.com. Retrieved March 31, 2023.
  2. ^ "A balk for three ground balls? What is the background behind the introduction of the major league-style shortened time rule by baseball for JABA Baseball". Daily Sports (Japanese newspaper) (in Japanese). via Yahoo Japan News. Archived from the original on March 7, 2023. Retrieved May 22, 2023.
  3. ^ "Pitch clock for baseball? Experiment begins in SEC". USATODAY.COM. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  4. ^ "NCAA ready to make pitch clock mandatory". Yahoo Sports. July 24, 2010. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  5. ^ "NCAA rules for college baseball are designed to speed up the game". NOLA.com. March 7, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  6. ^ "Pitch clock for Double-A, Triple-A use". ESPN. January 15, 2015. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  7. ^ "Minor Leagues announce pace-of-game rules - MiLB.com News - The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". MiLB.com. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  8. ^ "Minor League Baseball Toolshed: Pitch clocks do their job in debut season - MiLB.com News - The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". MiLB.com. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Castrovince, Anthony (January 21, 2018). "Opinions differ on MLB pitch clock". MLB.com. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  10. ^ Beach, Jerry (July 13, 2018). "For the Atlantic League, the All-Star Game is All About Its Amazing Balancing Act". Forbes. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  11. ^ USA TODAY Sports (February 19, 2018). "MLB pace of play: No pitch clock in 2018, but mound visits limited". Usatoday.com. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  12. ^ "MLB rolls out pitch clock for spring training games, and it could reportedly carry into regular season". February 22, 2019.
  13. ^ "Sources: Reg.-season pitch clock a real possibility". February 22, 2019.
  14. ^ Feinsand, Mark (March 10, 2022). "MLB, MLBPA agree to new CBA; season to start April 7". MLB.com. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  15. ^ Castrovince, Anthony (September 9, 2022). "Pitch timer, shift restrictions among announced rule changes for '23". MLB.com. Retrieved September 9, 2022.
  16. ^ "MLB rule changes: pitch clock, larger bases and more". USA Today. Associated Press. February 23, 2023. Retrieved February 25, 2023.
  17. ^ Lindbergh, Ben (May 1, 2023). "Baseball's Pitch Clock Has Transformed Game Length—and Not Just in the Obvious Way". The Ringer. Retrieved June 11, 2023.
  18. ^ Doolittle, Bradford (March 30, 2023). "Cubs' Marcus Stroman called for MLB's first clock violation". ESPN. Retrieved July 1, 2023.
  19. ^ Verducci, Tom (November 4, 2023). "How the Pitch Timer Saved the World Series". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 5, 2023.
  20. ^ "MLB tweaks rules on pace of play and first base path". France 24. December 21, 2023. Retrieved December 21, 2023.
  21. ^ "A balk for three ground balls? What is the background behind the introduction of the major league-style shortened time rule by baseball for JABA Baseball". Daily Sports (Japanese newspaper) (in Japanese). via Yahoo Japan News. Archived from the original on March 7, 2023. Retrieved May 22, 2023.
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Pitch clock
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