Play Ball! Expectations for the MLB 2023

Reed Mason and Dan Ryu

Following last year’s season of 2022, Major League Baseball is implementing several new rules starting in spring training and going into the regular season and playoffs for 2023. It is possible that if these new aspects of MLB baseball improve the overall efficiency and playstyle of professional baseball, they could be used for the following seasons.

The main goal is to produce safer, faster paced, and action packed MLB games for the fans and for the players.  Things to look for throughout the season include several different situational pitch timers, limited shifts on defense, and bigger bases. 

These new regulations create not only disadvantages, but also benefits for players and teams depending on position and how much they can adapt to the modifications.

With adding new and different aspects to the game, there will be different opinions brought up for debate on whether or not these rules are necessary. After they were tested in the Minor Leagues, last month the Jointed Competition Committee voted in approval for the changes to be used this year. 


Pitch Timer

The main source for a quicker pace will come from the pitch timer. A 15-second timer will require a pitcher to start the motion of their delivery before it runs out to avoid a penalty, a 20-second timer with at least one runner on base. Also 30-seconds for pitchers in between batters. Due to the active pitch timer in Minor League Baseball, the average time it takes to complete one full game decreased by 26 minutes. Additionally, this rule brought limits of pick-off attempts at first base with a greater number of attempts for stolen bases. 

The penalty for a pitcher who did not oblige by this timer receives a ball to the pitch count. 

Not only is there a defensive pitch timer, but there is also an 8-second timer for upcoming batters. To avoid an added strike to the pitch count, they must get set in the batters box, and be aware of the pitch. 

Pickoffs from the pitcher as well as the pitchers stepping off of the mound will reset the timer to the original time. Per at bat, the pitcher can only perform a pickoff attempt or step off the mound at most two times. The only way for this restriction to reset is when there is an advancement of a baserunner or baserunners to the next base.

If a pitcher were to use a third pickoff attempt, and if it is unsuccessful, the baserunner will be able to go to the next base. 

A team also receives a total of five mound visits throughout the game between the coaches . If a team uses all five of their mound by the beginning of the ninth inning, they will be given one extra mound visit for the ninth inning. 


Larger Bases

Compared to the original 15 inch bases, now the first, second, and third base will be 3 inches bigger to an 18 inch square while home plate remains the same size.

Relating more to player safety, the larger bases allow for less contact between players. The extra three inches benefit the baserunners as it results in less chance of being hit by incoming throws from other positions in the field. 

Even though it seems insignificant, larger bases are another thing that can help with stealing and affecting the outcome of several different types of scenarios. 

This change is another reason for the increased stolen base attempts. The distance from base to base is slightly smaller giving the advantage to the runner over the defense. Not only that but also the increased size of the base can stop a baserunner from over committing on a fast break and sliding past the base.


Defensive Shifts

The main reason for the change to defensive shifts is for many reasons, the most important reason being to raise the average of balls in play. As of February 1st, the league’s batting average for balls that were put in play was at .291 in 2022 and with these rule changes they are trying to raise that number higher after a six point decrease from 2012 and ten point decrease from 2006.

Another reason why they banned some shifts is so that infielders and outfielders can make more athletic plays without the needs of an unnatural formation such as shifts and resulting in a larger amount of fair balls that would result in outs as much as it would without the shift restrictions.


The New Defensive Shift rules include:

All four infielders have to stay within the outer edge of the infield when the pitcher comes set. 

Teams cannot switch an infielder to play on the opposite side of the field as an adjustment to a hitter and the common location on the field of where they hit the ball.

There are new penalties for any infielders who are not properly positioned in time of the pitch; the offense can choose to include an additional ball to the pitch count or choose the outcome for the play. 

2022 Season Recap

Last year, the final four World series contenders were the Houston Astros, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, and the Philadelphia Phillies. After the Yankees lost to the Astros in a four game sweep and the Padres lost to the Phillies in a 4-1 series. Houston went on to win the World series beating the Philadelphia Phillies in six games, 4-2. 


2023 MLB Postseason Predictions


American League 

First Round Bye – Houston Astros (1), Toronto Blue Jays (2)

Wild Card Round – New York Yankees (3) vs. Minnesota Twins (6)

Wild Card Round – Cleveland Guardians (4) vs. Seattle Mariners (5)


National League 

First Round Bye – Las Angeles Dodgers (1), New York Mets (2)

Wild Card Round – Atlanta Braves (3) vs. San Diego Padres (6)

Wild Card Round – St. Louis Cardinals (4) vs. Milwaukee Brewers(5)


2023 World Series 

New York Yankees vs. Las Angeles Dodgers


Being the consistent team they were last year, the Yankees are due for the title of World Series. The Yankees have +100 points worth of greater odds to win the World Series than the Los Angeles Dodgers.