New Rules to Speed-up Games


As was noted in a recent article here on BSI, “History of the Pace of the Game,” there have been many attempts to “keep the game moving” and most involved the role of umpires.


While we will need to await the outcome of this first season of “complete” instant replay in MLB, based on my decades of experiences as an umpire in amateur baseball, I will offer a few ideas that have worked, which would shorten games in the Major leagues.


Although not all players are as bad as former player Mike Hargrove, known as the “Human Rain Delay,” or former pitcher Steve Trachsel, too many waste time adjusting their batting gloves, helmets, pants and jocks between pitches.



The batter must remain in the batter’s box during an at-bat.  While taking the sign from the base coach, he must leave one leg in the box.  The batter may request a time out from the umpire to step out of the box during an at bat, but time outs will only be called for conferences with the base coach, or when there is something in the batter’s eye [dust, bugs, et al], or for other circumstances that the umpire judges it is required.


A study by Mike Fast in 2008 showed the range in seconds between pitches in MLB

Here are the top ten and bottom ten in average time between pitches for pitchers with at least 100 pitches so far in 2008.

Pitcher            Seconds

Mark Buehrle        17.2

Glendon Rusch       17.2

Joe Blanton         17.6

Jason Bergmann      17.7

Jon Lieber          17.8

R.A. Dickey         17.9

Ben Sheets          18.4

Esteban Loaiza      18.4

Derek Lowe          18.6

Dallas Braden       18.7

—                 —

Jason Isringhausen  27.4

Hideki Okajima      27.5

Denny Bautista      27.6

J.J. Putz           27.9

Jose Valverde       28.0

Josh Banks          28.1

Jonathan Papelbon   28.4

Joel Peralta        29.0

Rafael Perez        29.1

Rafael Betancourt   32.0

A more recent study by David Appelman on November 17, 2010 at Fangraphs showed:

Pitcher Pace (Time Between Pitches)

The slowest 5 pitchers are:

Daisuke Matsuzaka – 25.9 sec.
Matt Garza – 25.8 sec.
Josh Beckett – 25.2 sec.
Clay Buchholz – 24.6 sec.
CC Sabathia – 24.6 sec.

And the 5 fastest are:

Mark Buehrle – 16.4 sec.
Mike Leake – 17.6 sec.
John Danks – 17.6 sec.
Joe Blanton – 17.6 sec.
Clayton Richard – 17.7 sec.

[*SEE Methodology after after article.]

If Clay Buchholz was to throw 100 pitches in a game, the total time required would be 41 minutes.

If the home plate umpire in that game enforced the current MLB rule [8.04] that allows a maximum of 12 seconds to deliver the ball, starting when he receives it from the catcher, Buchhoz would make his 100 pitches in 20 minutes.  Thus, a time savings of 21 minutes and, if we add time saved from the opposing pitcher, say 15 minutes, the game would be shortened by 36 minutes.


Allow the pitcher 10 seconds between deliveries, but allow the umpire discretion for exceptions.


While rule 8.06 limits the number of times a manager [or coach] may visit the pitcher on the mound, there is no limit on the catcher.


Except in case of injury to the pitcher, the catcher may not visit the same pitcher more than once per inning and, if the umpire believes the catcher is abusing the privilege, he may limit the total number of visits per game.


Rule 8.06 allows a pitcher entering a game 8 warm-up pitches, or 1 minute, but [8.03] also allows for umpire discretion on the number of pitches allowed.

Currently, no rule addresses the number of warm-up pitches allowed between innings.  [Stipulation:  Games are broadcast in video and audio formats and require commercials to be run between innings.]


From the time that the final out is recorded in an inning to the first pitch to the batter in the following inning, no more than 5 minutes will be allowed. [Some may prefer fewer minutes.]

The time limit automatically addresses the number of warm-up pitches allowed; to wit, the pitcher will be allowed as many pitches as he can throw in that between innings time limit.

If all of the new rules suggested here were enforced, it would eliminate 3+ hours, 9-inning games, by trimming out the time wasted by 60-90 minutes without detracting from the normal pace of the Summer game.



[This feature will appear every MONDAY here on BSI…]



“I’ve added a new stat to the PitchF/x section, “Pace”, inspired by this post over at Beyond the Box Score, which shows how much time each pitcher takes in between his pitches.

The way I calculate Pace, is by taking the difference between the start time of the first pitch in the plate appearance, and the end time of the last pitch in the plate appearance. I then divide by the number of pitches in that plate appearance (minus 1). Pickoff attempts are considered just another pitch, since they don’t have time stamps of their own. Anything that looks like a game delay between pitches is thrown out. The average pace is about 21.5 seconds.

My numbers didn’t come out exactly the same as the Beyond the Box Score post, but the ordering of fast/slow pitchers is quite similar. I’m not entirely sure what is the cause of the differences.”