Pace of Play: What Hitters Can Do to Help

Remember a time when people would have to wait days to see how their favorite player played in the newspaper, or even waiting till the end of the 10 o’clock news to find out if your favorite team had won?

Well luckily for me I’m too young to remember having wait days for the information but I did start my fandom having to wait till the nine or ten o’clock news programs to find out if Jack McDowell had shut out the Kirby Puckett led Minnesota Twins.

These days information is easily available to anyone that has a connection to the internet. This has caused a “want it now and quick” mentality that has minimized people’s attention span to a very short amount of time. What keeps people into games is the constant action so they’re not just sitting around losing their focus to everything going on around them or their phones. So what can be done to make it at least appear to a person watching ball games as though the game is constantly moving at a good pace?

In this four part series I’ll break down several things that hitters, fielders, pitchers, management and even broadcasts can do to combine to boost the pace of the game to draw back in the average fans and the younger views to the stadiums and T.V. broadcasts.

This article as titled is focused on looking at what hitters can do to help quicken the pace of play. The hitters are one of the easiest targets to pick on in regards to this topic. The simplest contribution the hitters can make is cutting out the between pitches routines.

An example of one of the worst offenders of getting out of the batter’s box and going through an elongated routine is David Ortiz. Ortiz normally steps out with both feet, adjusts the straps on his batting gloves and then spitting into his hands and rubbing them together before he looks around and then takes his time getting back into his stance. Over the last eight seasons he has averaged 24.25 seconds between the pitches he sees each at-bat. If Ortiz and hitters in general can knock their paces down to 10 to 15 seconds per at-bat it could save 12 minutes per game if both teams pitched a perfect game in the nine innings.

Since that’s obviously not possible any extra hitters that cut down on their pace could save the even more time throughout the game. So how could MLB go about doing that?

Easiest solution is to have each batter in between pitches step out with one foot, look down to the third base coach to get the sign, and then step back in to get into their stance.

Last Friday MLB announced a rule this morning that, “Umpires will enforce Rule 6.02(d), which requires hitters to keep one foot in the box during an at-bat, subject to certain exceptions.”

Unfortunately this rule has a major flaw in it. Rule 6.02(d) states that, “The exceptions that allow a hitter to leave the box include swinging at a pitch, being forced out of the box by a pitch, a time out or if the team in the field attempts a play on a runner at any base.”

So with how often players are swinging at pitches these days, this rule will have little effect on keeping hitters in the box and at a good pace. Hopefully they’ll change this rule to take out the exception of a hitter swinging at a pitch. If they do that and keep hitters in the box throughout the at-bat it will cause players to cut down on their routines, like Ortiz’s so that this rule will actually have an effect on the pace of play instead of just changing where players do their routines when they don’t swing at a pitch.

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