There has been a lot of discussion about what Major League Baseball can do to improve the pace of play in its games. One rule change being considered is having a runner placed on second base to start each extra inning. According to Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan, the rule will be implemented in the upcoming World Baseball Classic and could be tested out in the Gulf Coast League and Arizona League.
Now there are several reasons they’d implement the rule change, but it appears as though officials are trying to avoid the extremely long games that last an extra hour or two and can wreak havoc on a team’s bullpen.
“It’s not fun to watch when you go through your whole pitching staff and wind up bringing a utility infielder in to pitch,” Joe Torre told Yahoo. “As much as it’s nice to talk about being at an 18-inning game, it takes time.”
In all reality, however, you can’t help but wonder how much of an impact this will truly have on pace of play type issues. There aren’t too many games that go into extra innings to begin with, let alone actually last close to the 18 innings that Joe Torre referenced.
In June of 2011, for instance, Tom Singer wrote an article about how that season was on a record setting pace in terms of extra innings. Even at that record setting pace, it was only 11.6 percent of games that were actually heading into extras.
There’s also the plan and simple fact that tons of offense won’t necessarily lead to a short game. In that same article, Singer wrote about how an analysis of the previous 20 seasons found that “the four seasons in which scoring has been the lowest (1991, 1992, 2010, 2011) yielded four of the five highest incidences of extra-inning games.”
No matter what the fate of the rule change would be, it’d be years before we actually saw the change made at the Major League level.