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A Radical Idea To Speed Up Major League Baseball Games

Speed up major league baseball

The average length of a Major League Baseball game has increased 38 minutes in the past decade. The three-and-a-half hour baseball game is now commonplace. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred just recently instituted a new rule designed to speed up play – the no-pitch intentional walk. Instead of pitchers actually throwing the four pitches, managers will now signal to put the batter on first base. Awesome. Manfred will save games a whopping 90 seconds if he’s lucky. Do you want a radical solution to speeding up games? Have umpires call more strikes.


Okay, so it’s not that radical but consider this. Balls in play – you know, like the hitter actually hits the ball in the field of play – were at an all-time low last season. Hitters who face more pitches per at-bat are favored over those who do not. In 2016, the average batter faced 3.9 pitches in each at-bat. That number has slowly risen over the last decade. You can thank Moneyball for that. Managers and personnel people place more emphasis on advanced metrics like pitches faced per at-bat. What that means for the average fan is simple. Hitters take more pitches which translates into longer at-bats. Longer at-bats means more game time.


So, if MLB is truly concerned about the length of the average game, the league will get its umpires to enforce the strike zone. The average MLB umpire does not call the strike at the top of the strike zone (just under the armpits). Most are not consistent with calling strikes on the corners either. Calling more strikes will cause the batter to swing the bat more often. Swinging the bat more often translates into shorter at-bats as well as more balls in play and would effectively speed up the pace of play. It may never happen, but it would surely work.