MLB is bringing several changes to the game in 2023. Rule changes that have been implemented include a pitch clock, pick off limits, defensive positioning rules (shift limitations), larger bases, requirements for when a position player can pitch, and the extra innings ‘ghost’ runner.
Here are all of the 2023 MLB rule changes.
- Pitchers will have 15 seconds to throw a pitch with the bases empty and 20 seconds with a runner on base.
- Hitters will need to be in the batter’s box with eight seconds on the pitch clock.
- If a pitcher has not started “the motion to deliver a pitch” before the expiration of the clock, he will be charged with a ball.
- If a batter delays entering the box, he will be charged with a strike.
Pick off limitations
- Pitchers are allowed two disengagements per plate appearance without penalty. The rule resets if a runner or runners advance a base within the same plate appearance
- A disengagement is classified as any time the pitcher makes a pick off attempt, fakes a pick off, steps off the rubber, or when the defense requests time.
- If this rule is broken, the pitcher will be charged with a balk unless at least one offensive player advances a base or an out is made on the ensuing play after the step off.
Defensive Positioning Rules (shift limitations)
- All four infielders are required to be positioned within the infield dirt. A position player cannot be positioned in the outfield grass.
- Two players must be on each side of second base.
- Players must be in their position at the time a pitch is thrown but can move once the pitch is thrown.
- A player who starts an inning at first or second base has to remain on that side of the field for the entire inning but can switch to short or third base the next inning.
- An infield can be reset if there is an injury or substitution mid-inning
- What happens when this rule is violated?
- If the hitting team reaches base and runners advance on a ball hit under the violation, the game proceeds without penalties.
- If the play has any other consequence — an out, a sacrifice, etc. — the hitting team can decide either to accept the penalty — which would add one ball to the hitter’s count — or decline it, and the play would stand.
- The size of bases will be increased from 15 inches to 18 inches
Position players pitching
- Position players can only pitch when:
- The leading team is up by 10+ runs in the ninth inning
- The trailing team is down by 8+ runs anytime
- The game goes into extra innings
Extra innings ghost runner
- During extra innings, a runner will automatically be placed on second base to begin.
This rule is not new, but it was unanimously voted upon to make it permanent in all regular season extra innings games.
More rule changes may come in the future. An Automatic Balls and Strikes system (ABS) will be used in all 2023 Triple-A games this year with half of the ball parks being equipped to undergo challenges from opposing teams. Depending upon how this goes, robot umps may be coming to the Major Leagues soon.