There has been a great deal of talk lately as to how we can speed up the pace of play in the great game of baseball. The MLB has just implemented a new rule that has gotten rid of the intentional walk (saving about 3o seconds at most, per game) and Joe Torre is also supporting a rule where a runner is automatically put on second base in extra innings. I personally do not agree with either of these but there has been a new suggestion on how to speed up the pace of play, and I agree with it 100%.
Strikeouts are very common in today’s game. In 2016 there was an average of 8.03 strikeouts per game, and when you compare that to the average of 6.30 in 2005, you realize that has been a substantial jump in the past 11 years.
One of the reasons this could be occurring is hitters don’t fear striking out like they used to. With two strikes, players used to choke up and protect the plate in an attempt to put the ball in play. Now players are less fearful of the strikeout and strikeouts have become more common in the MLB than they should be.
Here is what Don Mattingly had to say regarding the matter…
“Analytically, a few years back nobody cared about the strikeout, so it’s OK to strike out 150, 160, 170 times, and that guy’s still valued in a big way. Well, as soon as we start causing that to be a bad value — the strikeouts — guys will put the ball in play more. So once we say strikeouts are bad and it’s going to cost you money the more you strike out, then the strikeouts will go away. Guys will start making adjustments and putting the ball in play more.
If our game values [say that] strikeouts don’t matter, they are going to keep striking out, hitting homers, trying to hit home runs and striking out.”
I do feel that it would be a good idea to fine players for striking out a certain amount of times, and there would certainly be more balls put in play that will speed up the game.
Hopefully this philosophy will be embraced among all MLB teams and will be put to good use. I am personally tired of the MLB trying to speed up the game with odd and strange rule changes, and I think this will be a much better way of speeding up the game more naturally.