When Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred took over in 2015, one of his first promises was finding a way to speed up the game. More than two years later, the games are actually slowing down instead of moving faster. Continue reading to find out how time would affect the MLB odds of the games.
From 2014 to 2015, the game time for a nine-inning baseball game decreased by six minutes, which matched the largest decrease in league history. As expected, the decrease didn’t last long and increased by four minutes the next year.
This year, the length of games is expected to be at an all-time high despite the few changes made before the start of the season.
In an effort to reduce the length of games this year, managers were required to decide more quickly if they want to challenge an umpire’s call, and also making intentional walks automatic instead of the pitcher having to throw the ball away four times.
Despite the changes, the length of baseball games this year has increased to 3 hours, 5 minutes, which is five minutes longer than it was last year and the longest in MLB history. The new average length of games is also the second largest increase from on year to another.
Since the length of baseball games have historically been longer in September, the average is expected to increase by the time the season is over.
Manfred still insists that the length of games will be reduced, but he also made a distinction between the length of games and the pace of games.
According to the commissioner, the time of game is what happens on the field, like the number of runs scored, how m any players get on base, and how many pitching changes teams make during games. Manfred said that those are things he can’t control because it’s about competition and up to the clubs.
So how much of the almost nine minutes added since 2005 can be classified under happening competitively on the field?
The first thing that can be tacked on to the added minutes is the fact that there are more plate appearances per game. More plate appearances means more pitches are being thrown. If you follow baseball, you know it usually takes pitchers some time to throw, now add more batters to the mix, and the game will take much longer to complete.
Another fallout from more plate appearances and more pitches being thrown is the fact that managers will make more pitching changes to account for the extra plate appearances.
A regular pitching change takes at least five minutes because the pitcher that comes into the game needs to throw a few practice pitches before the game can continue. With extra pitching changes being made, there is no way to avoid extra time being spent on the field.
Commissioner Manfred has a valid point trying to make the games shorter because some fans can’t sit through three plus hours to watch a full game. However, unless he can come up with significant ways to reduce the time of play, I can’t see how the length of the games will be reduced any time soon.