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2020 MLB Rules - The Changes

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  • #61
    Ripple Effects for Mets with DH Potentially Coming to National League Soon

    Robinson Cano, Jeff McNeil, Ronny Mauricio, and others could be impacted

    by Danny Abriano
    28 Jan 2020, 12:15 PM ET

    There was buzz before the 2019 season that the DH could soon be implemented in the National League, with some speculating that the DH coming to the NL could've been one of the reasons why the Mets were comfortable taking on five seasons of then-36-year-old Robinson Cano.

    Now, the buzz is back, with Jim Bowden of The Athletic reporting Monday that there is a "growing belief" among some general managers that the DH could come to the NL as soon as 2021. While the NL adding the DH as soon as next season is possible, SNY's Andy Martino believes it could be more likely to happen for the 2022 season.

    Either way, unless the Mets trade Cano between now and then, they will be one of the teams to benefit the most from the NL adopting the DH. But the positive ripple effects for the Mets wouldn't stop with how it might impact Cano. Among the scenarios...

    Cano becomes the full-time DH

    The most logical move if/when the DH comes to the NL could be shifting Cano -- under contract until 2023 -- from second base into a full-time DH role.

    Cano, 37, dealt with lower body issues in 2019, when he was limited to 107 games. And his defense at second base -- whether due to getting older, his injuries, or potentially some combination of the two -- suffered. In 804.1 innings there, he was worth -6 DRS. Extrapolated over a full season, that would have been his worst defensive performance since 2008.

    If the Mets hope to extract as much value as possible out of Cano, the smart play could be sliding him to DH, which could lead to fresher legs/better offensive production and the ability to shift other players around. That could mean...

    Jeff McNeil slides to second base

    McNeil got most of his starts in the outfield in 2019, but he is expected to play primarily third base in 2020, with J.D. Davis, Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto expected to be in the outfield from left to right

    Under team control through the 2024 season, McNeil graded out as average or slightly above average defensively in left field, right field, third base, and second base in 2019. That kind of versatility -- to go along with his offensive prowess -- makes him extremely valuable.

    While McNeil would likely succeed at any of the four spots on the field he's comfortable in, moving him to second base could make the most sense because it could mean that...

    Third base opens up for Ronny Mauricio

    Mauricio, widely viewed as the Mets' top prospect and a top 100 prospect in baseball, is on track to be ready for the majors by 2022. Currently a shortstop, Mauricio could potentially transition to third base as he physically matures.

    Even if Mauricio remains at shortstop, something will likely have to give when he reaches the majors since Amed Rosario is currently there. If Mauricio is still profiling as above average at short, perhaps the Mets will transition Rosario to the hot corner if they believe he can handle it.

    Know who else plays third base? Nolan Arenado, who has an opt-out after the 2021 season. But I digress...

    A left side of the infield of Mauricio and Rosario (or one of those players and Arenado!) and a right side of the infield of McNeil and Pete Alonso would be legit.

    The above options aren't the only ones the Mets have, though.

    J.D. Davis could become DH instead of Cano

    With Davis under team control through the 2024 season and his defense below average in left field and well below average at third base, it can be argued that he is an even better fit as DH than Cano.

    The Mets opting to use Davis as the DH would of course mean Cano staying at second base unless he is traded. However, there's a scenario where Davis becomes DH, Cano stays at second base, and third base still opens up for Mauricio.

    With Michael Conforto under team control through only the 2021 season, there is a possibility that he could be traded or depart via free agency before the DH is implemented in the NL. That would conceivably allow McNeil to shift back to a corner outfield spot.

    Conforto not being in the Mets' future plans would be unfortunate since they should really be looking to sign the 26-year-old to an extension, but the point remains.

    Either way, the DH coming to the NL sooner rather than later would be a welcome development for the Mets, who would then have easy ways to deal with situations that might otherwise become headaches.

    Drew's Sig


    • #62

      Drew's Sig


      • #63
        The more I think about the football example, the less I like it. If we're going to specialize one position, why not expand the team to a 40 person team, and you have your full offensive players and full defensive players, much like football does.

        Read an interesting mlb article explaining the history of the DH debate, which apparently has been raging since 1906 without much movement... here is a quote from 1906; aside from the eloquence, it sounds no different than the argument today.

        The suggestion, often made, that the pitcher be denied a chance to bat, and a substitute player sent up to hit every time, has been brought to life again ... . Against the change there are many strong points to be made. It is wrong theoretically. It is a cardinal principle of base ball that every member of the team should both field and bat. Instead of taking the pitcher away from the plate, the better remedy would be to teach him how to hit the ball.
        I like that... "cardinal principle of baseball"


        • saxon
          saxon commented
          Editing a comment
          my favorite quote from the article:

          "please stop making me watch NIMMO strike out 50 percent of the time"

      • #64
        MLB Reportedly Planning Postseason Changes

        by Jeff Todd
        10 Feb 2020, 3:57 PM CDT

        Major League Baseball is plotting a major shift in the sport’s structure, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The intention is to implement the changes as soon as the 2022 season.

        This is not a done deal. Beyond any potential practical issues that could yet arise, it’ll need to be worked out with the union. As Sherman notes, though, there’s some reason to believe the changes could meet with the approval of the MLBPA.

        First and foremost, the proposal under consideration would add two more postseason qualifying teams in each league, meaning that 14 of the game’s 30 clubs would be in the playoffs each year. The top overall team in each league would get a first-round bye, with the other teams playing 3-game series (all in one city) to advance.

        That structure would assuredly change the roster-building calculus. In theory, tanking wouldn’t be as appealing, though it’d also increase the potential for cost-efficient postseason bids.

        As much as anything, these rules would seem to enhance the meaning of late-season games. The first-round bye and full-series hosting provisions would help ensure that games late in the season still have meaning. And there’d usually be more competitive teams down the stretch.

        Working out the full potential ramifications is always tough — there could certainly be some unintended (or subtle, counter-intuitive intended) consequences. There’s no indication whether the regular season would be modified to accommodate this new schedule, though that seems possible.

        The proposal also includes one other eyebrow-raising provision. Per Sherman, the top three non-bye playoff teams would select their first-round opponents. This is a more or less standalone quirk, but one that does hint at some of the motivation here. Sherman notes that the league would plan to televise a live selection show. This package of potential changes is obviously designed both to increase the general competitive appeal of many games and to spice things up with some quirks.

        UGH more wild card teams. And a strange provision in the last paragraph.


        • #65
          I can get behind the 3 game WC series, though I'm not sure it's necessary (Not to mention it getting colder and colder by the time the WS gets played).

          don't like the idea of the bye round, and I definitely don't like the idea of expanding the number of teams getting in. Currently 40% of teams make the playoffs, that's a lot.

          I think the current system is smart. Give 1 team a disadvantage of having to burn their best pitcher in an exciting winner take all match up of two teams that just missed winning their divisions. This new proposal is purely "revenue driven" as I can't see any other merit.


          • West Coast Mets Fan
            Editing a comment
            I agree with what you have said. I sort of can buy into the theory being thrown around that this playoff restructure may help prevent some teams from tanking at the trade deadline because they have a shot at the wild card, but in the end, do we really want a fringe team in the playoffs? I surely do not.

        • #66
          Give me more playoff games and I am happy.


          • #67

            MLB Announces Rule Changes For 2020 Season

            by Steve Adams
            12 Feb 2020, 3:20 PM CDT

            Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday the implementation of several rule changes that will take place in 2020 — most notably the previously reported three-batter minimum for pitchers, the expansion of standard roster size from 25 to 26 players, a two-way player designation rule and a longer injured list/optional assignment minimum for pitchers and two-way players.

            From the league’s official release:
            • Three-Batter Minimum: The Official Baseball Rules have been amended to require the starting or any relief pitcher to pitch to a minimum of three batters, including the batter then at bat (or any substitute batter), until such batters are put out or reach base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire crew chief’s judgment, incapacitates him from further play as a pitcher. The three-batter minimum will become effective in 2020 Spring Training beginning on Thursday, March 12th.
            • Rosters through August 31st and Postseason: Active Roster limits from Opening Day through August 31st and including Postseason games shall be increased from 25 to 26. In addition, Clubs will be permitted to carry a maximum of 13 pitchers from Opening Day through August 31st (plus Postseason games).
            • September Rosters: From September 1st through the end of the Championship Season (including any tiebreaker games), all Clubs must carry 28 players on the Active Roster. In addition, Clubs will be permitted to carry a maximum of 14 pitchers during this period.
            • Two-Way Player Designation: Players who qualify as “Two-Way Players” may appear as pitchers during a game without counting toward a Clubs’ pitcher limitations. A player will qualify as a “Two-Way Player” only if he accrues both: (i) at least 20 Major League innings pitched; and (ii) at least 20 Major League games started (as a position player or designated hitter) with at least three plate appearances in each of those games, in either the current Championship Season or the prior Championship Season (for 2020 only, this will include 2019 as well as 2018). The Club must designate that player as a “Two-Way Player” in advance of that game. Once a Club designates a qualified “Two-Way Player” that designation will remain in effect, and cannot change, for the remainder of that Championship Season and Postseason.
            • Position Players Pitching: Any player may appear as a pitcher following the 9th inning of an extra inning game, or in any game in which his team is losing or winning by more than six runs when the player enters as a pitcher.
            • Extra Player Rule: The previous “26th player rule” will be replaced with the “27th player rule” for all applicable Championship Season games prior to September 1st. The 27th player shall not count toward any pitcher roster limits described above. Thus, a Club may designate 14 pitchers in games under circumstances where the Major League Rules would permit a 27th Active player.
            • Injured List Reinstatements and Option Period for Pitchers:Clubs may not reinstate pitchers or Two-Way Players from the Injured List until 15 days have elapsed from the date of the initial placement for such injury – an increase from 10 days. In addition, the option period for pitchers will be lengthened from 10 days to 15 days.
            • Reduction in Challenge Time: Managers will now have up to 20 seconds to challenge a play instead of 30.

            Most of these rules were known in advance, but the league’s announcement today formally brings them into MLB canon. The three-batter minimum is perhaps the most controversial of the bunch, as it’ll greatly reduce the presence of left-handed relief specialists — commonly referred to as LOOGYs (“Left-handed One Out Guys”) — and place a considerably greater emphasis on relievers who lack substantial platoon splits. The usage of left-handed specialists, though, had generally decreased in recent seasons.

            The newly implemented three-batter minimum is yet another “pace of play” initiative from commissioner Rob Manfred — put in place in an effort to reduce the average time of games and decrease the downtime within. To date, however, games have yet to see any meaningful decrease in average time, while walks, strikeouts and home runs are at an all-time high. Fewer pitching changes could theoretically reduce game times, but there’s no guarantee that the rule will have that effect and any reductions figure to be rather minimal. It’s certainly possible that the new rule results in fewer time-consuming pitching change and additional balls in play, but the increase of balls in play could also have an adverse impact on a given game’s overall length.

            The two-way player designation — sure to be referenced as the Shohei Ohtani Rule — will impact players such as Ohtani, Michael Lorenzen and Brendan McKay while also perhaps slightly reducing the frequency with which position players appear on the mound. It’s certainly possible that additional players will eventually qualify for such designation, but few will be impacted up front.

            As for the return to a 15-day IL minimum and an expanded 15-day option minimum for pitchers and two-way players, that rule has been put in place to reduce the frequency of phantom IL stints that have been used to effectively carry extra arms in the bullpen. The Dodgers have paced the game with regard to usage of that tactic, and the Giants, under former L.A. GM Farhan Zaidi, were more regularly employing the move as well.

            Managers have long bemoaned the previous iteration of roster expansion, which allowed MLB clubs to carry anyone from their 40-man in the Major Leagues. It was common to see teams nearly double the size of their bullpen under that rule, thus greatly increasing the number of pitching changes and generally making it more difficult to gameplan. The new rule will still afford teams some additional flexibility — but on a much smaller scale.

            Broadly speaking, today’s announcement does little to impact the fabric of the game — particularly relative to prior rule changes (e.g. the advent of instant reply) and proposed rule changes (e.g. pitch clocks, beginning extra innings with a runner on second base, etc.). It’s a further reminder, however, that Manfred and his charges aren’t afraid to implement changes they deem best for the sport. Larger-scale changes — be it the implementation of the DH in the National League, the recently reported alterations to the postseason structure, expansion to new markets or something that has yet to come to light — feel inevitable down the road.

            I do not get the rule about restricting when a position player can pitch. When has this become a problem?
            Last edited by West Coast Mets Fan; 13-Feb-2020, 12:17 PM.


            • #68
              Isn't this the first time they are specifically limiting the number of pitchers you can have on your 26 man roster? I believe the issue is not an abundance of player pitchers, but instead this is closing a loophole before it opens. Stops teams from classifying a AAA pitcher as an MLB 2B on the roster, and then saying "he's going to pitch this inning". Now he can't pitch, he's a position player who doesn't meet the two-way player definition, no pitching for him.


              • #69
                New Pickoff Rule Coming To Minors After Indy Ball Success In 2019

                by J.J. Cooper Kyle Glaser
                27 Feb 2020

                Major League Baseball is in the final stages of finalizing a plan that will change pickoff rules for a significant portion of the minor leagues.

                Two farm directors confirmed that they have been told that when the 2020 season begins, MiLB pitchers will be required to step off the rubber before they can throw to a base on a pickoff attempt. As such, the new rule will eliminate the Andy Pettitte-style pickoff move where a lefty hangs on his back leg before either stepping toward first base and throwing over or stepping toward home to pitch. Inside moves at second base are also prohibited by the rule change.

                Deciding at which levels the rule will be enforced has not been finalized, although the expectation is that it will at least cover Class A and below, and it is possible it will include Double-A. The Florida State League is set to use automated ball-strike calls (ABS) at a majority of its parks for 2020, and there is some thought that the pickoff rule is at least tangentially related to ABS.

                This pickoff rule was enacted for the independent Atlantic League (which implemented rule changes at MLB’s request) last season at that league’s all-star break, at the same time that the league began using an automated strike zone fueled by Trackman data to call balls and strikes.

                MLB officials said at the time of the rule change in the Atlantic League that they hoped such a move would encourage more basestealing. It also was seen as having a balancing effect. Since catchers no longer have to worry about framing pitches with a computer calling balls and strikes, there has been some concern that they can set up and receive in a better position to throw.

                In the Atlantic League last year, the pickoff rule change did lead to a dramatic increase in stolen base attempts. Stolen bases attempts went from 1.03 per game in the first half of the season before the rule change to 1.69 per game in the second half of the season with the rule change. The success rate also increased. Atlantic League basestealers were successful 75 percent of the time in the first half and 81 percent of the time in the second half.

                “If you get picked off, you’re really a bad baserunner,” High Point Rockers pitching coach Frank Viola said a few weeks after the Atlantic League pickoff rule was changed.

                Double plays also dropped from .82 per game to .63 per game with the new rules. According to coaches in the Atlantic League, runners could almost always get enough of a lead to make it much harder to turn two on anything other than a ball hit right at an infielder.

                The pickoff rule tweak has been discussed throughout the offseason, but the final official decision appears to not have been disseminated yet. While multiple farm directors said they have been told the decision is finalized, others said they were unaware and Minor League Baseball has not received official word of the changes. Both Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball declined to comment.

                Josh Norris contributed to this report.

                Drew's Sig


                • #70
                  Originally posted by NY FANG View Post
                  Isn't this the first time they are specifically limiting the number of pitchers you can have on your 26 man roster? I believe the issue is not an abundance of player pitchers, but instead this is closing a loophole before it opens. Stops teams from classifying a AAA pitcher as an MLB 2B on the roster, and then saying "he's going to pitch this inning". Now he can't pitch, he's a position player who doesn't meet the two-way player definition, no pitching for him.
                  they should also limit how many times that a pitcher can be "optioned" back and forth between AAAA and MLB....


                  • #71
                    why? I think there is already a rule that limits how quickly you can recall a player, so if you have enough minor league pitchers of a strong enough quality to keep rotating them during their option period, why limit it?

                    Also, I don't think I've ever seen that kind of carousel, so it might be fixing a problem that has no risk of existing.