Rule Changes
While we anxiously wait news of Doc

While we all wait to see how Jeff is doing, I thought maybe somebody should show Klat that the community is continuing, for the moment at least, especially if it might mean that Doc's writing quota could be filled for November. I don't know how the deal with Klat works, but if a few articles and lots of comments would earn some credit for Doc, I'm going to try to help.

I'll start this post with some suggestions on rule changes I'd like to see. If others can chip in their ideas, maybe we can attract some interest.

Rule Change #1 -

As the pitcher sets for each pitch, there shall be two infielders stationed on the infield dirt on either side of a line drawn from home plate through second base. There shall be no more than two outfielders on one side of the same line. If the team chooses to station an infielder directly behind 2nd base, he may allowed two steps to either side (5 feet) to be able to see around the pitcher. Teams shall place a mark at a point 5 feet to either side of the home plate - second base - centerfield line at both edges where dirt changes to grass, using chalk or charcoal, to allow sighting his position.

Explanation -

This change would rule out shifts of the type currently used and revert to previous practice, where the corner outfielder can come in and the center fielder shade behind him, but the infielders remain mostly on "their" side of the field. Allowing the SS or 2nd baseman, when stationed "straight-away" to peer around the pitcher is strictly for safety purposes. This should clear the way for hitting, without drastically hampering the defense.

Rule Change #2 -

Following the championship season, players under contract whose medical prognosis obviously will prohibit their starting the following season, such as players with joint repairs that require extensive rehabilitation, may be placed on a medical restricted list during the off-season and need not be counted against the 40-man roster limit. A maximum of two players per team may be protected in this way. At the start of the following season, those players will be placed on the 60-day disabled list with the special proviso that they will not play in any league, minor or major, until after July 1st of that season.

Explanation -

Simply better roster flexibilty and encouragement for teams to keep injured players under contract rather than releasing them. (cough, Smyly, cough)

Rule Change #3 -

For the first 25 games of the championship season, teams may be allowed 27 players on their active roster. Starting on the 26th game, rosters shall be set at 25 players. Starting September 1st of each season, teams will be allowed 30 players on the active roster, but will declare a list of 21 players eligible for each game during the exchange of lineups.

Explanation -

Eliminates 12-man bullpens and other excesses of the current September rosters, while still allowing teams to look at promising prospects. For the season beginning, it is to allow teams to use pitchers for shorter outings in cold weather, now that the season is starting in Late March, rather than Mid-April. This was a practice from 1957-67, when teams were allowed 28 players in April, but was a casualty of supposed penury in the 60s. Time to bring it back.

Rule Change #4 -

For this, I have no specific suggestion, just that clubs have to stop gaming the player service rules by keeping young players in the minors when they are ready to play MLB(tm) baseball. Whether making April, like September, not count in service time in some instances, or what, I'm not sure. But it's a real turn-off for fans.

The floor is open for other suggestions. Hopefully, somebody will fix these problems soon, whether they take our suggestions or negotiate their own.

Comments

1

#1:  When the pitcher is ready to pitch, he may pitch.  The batter shall be prepared. 

Explanation:  For the vast majority of baseball history, the batter stood in the box throughout an AB.  The batter was prepared to hit.  Let's get back to that historical precedent.

The pace of the game (often inordinantly slow) is dictated by the batter's tugging on two gloves, one leg out of the box--then in, then holding up a hand and finally giving the pitcher permission to throw the ball.  It seems like the ice in my drink melts between pitches sometimes.

All those Honus Wagners, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggios hit pretty well under pitcher-paced conditions.  A Cano, Haniger or Zunino will, too.  Well, OK, two of those three will.

Goodness knows, the fans would like it.  In '14, the average time between pitches was 18.3 seconds. My goodness!  As a result of that sort of slooooooow pace, there has been some suggestion of a Shot Clock-like "Pitch Clock," set at 12 seconds. 

I would prefer we just give the pitcher the perogative to throw the ball as soon as they get it.  If the batter isn't ready, or is stomping around outside the box, tough luck.   With a proposed 12-Second Clock, the 12-second timing starts when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher.  That still lets the batter lolly-gag around and slow down the game.

The only thing I might add to my proposal is that the batter must keep both feet in the box, unless knocked down.

Get on with it, dang it!

2
tjm's picture

It ain't complicated. Get in the box and stay there.

I think the anti-shift rule is well-intended, Bat, but would be a horrible idea in practice. So far as I know, the only player who's position on the field is dictated by rules is the pitcher. I see no readon to change that.  If a team wants to play seven outfielders, it's fine by me. It's merely a change in strategy. Let the other team address the change. Or not. No rules needed.

3

There is also a catcher's box. As a catcher, I was once caught outside of it before the pitch left the pitcher's hand on a pitchout. I stepped forward and out into the LH batter's box with my right leg, and lifted my trail leg as the pitcher's arm came forward. I was called for leaving the catcher's box and cost my team a stolen base and, ultimately, the game. So, two guys are fixed.   ;-)

But a generalized rule such as I'm trying to propose would not be as prescriptive as some proposals I've seen. It would try to bring back the way baseball has traditionally placed fielders.  In specific, the Williams shift I remember was as I described with the right fielder just onto the grass, and the CF shaded well into RF behind him by what's now the warning track, Then the SS was behind 2nd Base, with the 2B playing somewhat deep and closer to first. This type of shift would still be legal. But the extremes used against Gallo and Seager, et al, bunch more fielders tighter together than, I believe, has ever been the case. With the Williams shift, lateral range of the fielders was still important. I'd like a return to a case where fielder's talent meant something and yet the hitter had some room to hit, even if he chose to be a dead-pull hitter.

So, Terry, we'll agree to disagree on this one. Would be very interested on your take on my "Plan", especially on Bruce Maxwell.

And Keith's suggestion, which you endorse, is another change I'd like to see as well.

4
tjm's picture

Not sure there's a requirement the catcher be in the box, just that he not be in the hitter's box. Pretty sure the catcher can be in center field if you want to put him there, Why you would is certainly another question.

I'll chip in on the plan in that post tho to tell the truth you guys are so much more knowlegeable scouting-wise that my opinions in that realm are worth pretty much close to nothiing.

In any event, I much appreciate your effort to keep the site alive. Thanks.

5
Billy1's picture

hope the good dr. Is ok. Don’t do baseball talk anymore but still look in occasionally. Always respect an ability to hold it together and argue both sides. Wish I could do the same, cheers!

6

The "no crazy shifting" rule is well intentioned and addresses a real problem, but...

1) Hitters aren't merely "choosing" to be dead pull...some of them are simply not capable of getting good results any other way. Which means if you tell defenses they can't adjust to give themselves the best chance to get those guys out, you're depriving them of fair play.

2) Baseball is an evolving game and always has been. I imagine a time in the 1910s when the change in strategy that saw the shortstop playing on the left side of the infield and the second baseman on the right instead of one behind the other, both up the middle was taking place, where fans proposed rules to prohibit that evolution because it changed the game they were used to. Every time concerns about the result of changes in strategy in the game have come up in the past, teams have found a way to counter those concerns, with the exception of lowering the mound in 1972 to counter the.beginnings of the power pitching revolution. The same will happen here. Teams will begin to prioritize players who can hit to all fields, and the shift will become less important over time.

3) The shift is not the major reason scoring is so episodic and homer-driven anyway. Power pitching is the main reason. The vast increase in K rates caused by increasing bullpen usage, specialization of relievers, and increased velocity is driving that change. Should we make rules limiting fastball velocity to 99 mph?

Among the other rules changes discussed here, I think the general spirit of the "get back in the box, pokey" rule is good, but there need to be exceptions made for actually physics problems like a bug in your eye or a Charlie horse. The umpire does not have to grant time out. Right now umps are granting it too easily and putting the health of pitchers at risk. If you want to fix this problem, clarify the rule so the umpire knows he should only grant time out for physical reasons, but to tug at batting gloves and adjust jock straps.

I agree with the layout of the roster considerations.

I would add this proposed rule change:

A maximum of one pitching change per inning shall be allowed, except in the case of injury or illness, excluding changes occurring at the start of an inning. Meaning you can change who is pitching before the inning begins, and one additional time in the middle of the inning.

7

The "no crazy shifting" rule is well intentioned and addresses a real problem, but...

1) Hitters aren't merely "choosing" to be dead pull...some of them are simply not capable of getting good results any other way. Which means if you tell defenses they can't adjust to give themselves the best chance to get those guys out, you're depriving them of fair play.

2) Baseball is an evolving game and always has been. I imagine a time in the 1910s when the change in strategy that saw the shortstop playing on the left side of the infield and the second baseman on the right instead of one behind the other, both up the middle was taking place, where fans proposed rules to prohibit that evolution because it changed the game they were used to. Every time concerns about the result of changes in strategy in the game have come up in the past, teams have found a way to counter those concerns, with the exception of lowering the mound in 1972 to counter the.beginnings of the power pitching revolution. The same will happen here. Teams will begin to prioritize players who can hit to all fields, and the shift will become less important over time.

3) The shift is not the major reason scoring is so episodic and homer-driven anyway. Power pitching is the main reason. The vast increase in K rates caused by increasing bullpen usage, specialization of relievers, and increased velocity is driving that change. Should we make rules limiting fastball velocity to 99 mph?

Among the other rules changes discussed here, I think the general spirit of the "get back in the box, pokey" rule is good, but there need to be exceptions made for actually physics problems like a bug in your eye or a Charlie horse. The umpire does not have to grant time out. Right now umps are granting it too easily and putting the health of pitchers at risk. If you want to fix this problem, clarify the rule so the umpire knows he should only grant time out for physical reasons, but to tug at batting gloves and adjust jock straps.

I agree with the layout of the roster considerations.

I would add this proposed rule change:

A maximum of one pitching change per inning shall be allowed, except in the case of injury or illness, excluding changes occurring at the start of an inning. Meaning you can change who is pitching before the inning begins, and one additional time in the middle of the inning.

8

The "no crazy shifting" rule is well intentioned and addresses a real problem, but...

1) Hitters aren't merely "choosing" to be dead pull...some of them are simply not capable of getting good results any other way. Which means if you tell defenses they can't adjust to give themselves the best chance to get those guys out, you're depriving them of fair play.

2) Baseball is an evolving game and always has been. I imagine a time in the 1910s when the change in strategy that saw the shortstop playing on the left side of the infield and the second baseman on the right instead of one behind the other, both up the middle was taking place, where fans proposed rules to prohibit that evolution because it changed the game they were used to. Every time concerns about the result of changes in strategy in the game have come up in the past, teams have found a way to counter those concerns, with the exception of lowering the mound in 1972 to counter the.beginnings of the power pitching revolution. The same will happen here. Teams will begin to prioritize players who can hit to all fields, and the shift will become less important over time.

3) The shift is not the major reason scoring is so episodic and homer-driven anyway. Power pitching is the main reason. The vast increase in K rates caused by increasing bullpen usage, specialization of relievers, and increased velocity is driving that change. Should we make rules limiting fastball velocity to 99 mph?

Among the other rules changes discussed here, I think the general spirit of the "get back in the box, pokey" rule is good, but there need to be exceptions made for actually physics problems like a bug in your eye or a Charlie horse. The umpire does not have to grant time out. Right now umps are granting it too easily and putting the health of pitchers at risk. If you want to fix this problem, clarify the rule so the umpire knows he should only grant time out for physical reasons, but to tug at batting gloves and adjust jock straps.

I agree with the layout of the roster considerations.

I would add this proposed rule change:

A maximum of one pitching change per inning shall be allowed, except in the case of injury or illness, excluding changes occurring at the start of an inning. Meaning you can change who is pitching before the inning begins, and one additional time in the middle of the inning.

9

"lowering the mound in 1972" -- it was in 1969, the year after Bob Gibson's ridiculous 1968 ERA of, IIRC, 1.12.

But of course this has nothing to do with the points you are making. I agree with most of your recommendations.

10

I sort of like the shift.  Well, I like the challenge that it places in front of a batter.  But in a day when hitting has become one-dimensional (for the most part, and certainly in scouting), adaptation has all but disappeared.  I suspect that the next "Money Ball" ineffeciency will be 12 HR spray hitters.  

Denard Spans, if you will.

Ben Gamel just hit got on base 36% of the time and yet he's sort of discounted by many.  Eric Filia has been an on-base machine (so far) and he this past season he made no errors in 55 OF starts, with a RF/9 better than Haniger's in RF.  But he doesn't lift and elevate.  He might be Wade Boggs-lite....but he's competely "fringey."

There was an interesting moment during the World Series whre John Smoltz said that the only thing that matters (in the current game) in evaluating prospect pitchers is velocity.  Accordingly, MiLB'ers don't learn to "pitch" because (essentially) only velocity counts.  Man, what's a Bulldog Maddux to do?

But I digress:  I want to see Seager learn to use the whole field.  I want to see him purposely inside-out one through where the 3B should have been.  If defenses are willing to give that to him and yet he's till trying to lift and elevate, well then.....give me a new 3B.

And I wonder if the move to use Edgar as a organizational hitting coach, rather than as the MLB guy, is related to this area.

I've said before that the research that shows balls that are pulled in the air get the best success rate is a no-brainer thing, not earth shattering.  It has always been that way.  But trying to pull every ball in the air is a different thing......and is not a guarantee of increasing success.  Good hitters always, going back to the day of Homerun Baker, got wide-eyed when a ball floated on the inside half of the plate, but even the Willy McCoveys (RIP) of the baseball world struggled when they tried to pull the ball down and away.

I sort of like the shift, as I said.  It asks hitters to hit 'em where they ain't.  Wee Willie Keeler would like that.

11

Sorry I got the date wrong on changing the mound height...I actually thought 1969 first, but then questioned myself...this is what happens when I post at 6 AM. :)

On the question of whether the game has stopped adjusting, I'd say that will never be the case. New data is always coming out. If the shift is killing a whole class of players like Seager who simply do not get enough homers to make their ground outs and Ks worth it, those players will eventually cease to exist.

Give it time..the shift is only five or six years old. Teams will adjust.

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