This article was written April, 6 2015.
The signs are all around us: Opening Day is right around the corner! This should be a fun season. In this article, I’ll go over the three things in most excited for in the upcoming season.
Commissioner Rob Manfred has been taken almost every idea into consideration. The main proposal that will effect 2015 games is the new pitch clock and other pace of play changes. After every half inning is completed, a 2:30 timer will be put on the stadium’s scoreboard. This gives advertisers 5 30-second spots before play has to resume. Also, MLB will now start to further enforce the rule that grants a ball if a pitcher does not throw within 15 seconds of receiving the ball. On the other end of the spectrum, hitters will be given a strike if they step out of the batter’s box after a ball or strike call. I am interested to see whether these initial rules will have any impact on the current 3+ hour average of a baseball game.
The collision rule, or officially the ‘Buster Posey rule’ debuted last year to prevent home plate collisions. The rule states that a catcher cannot block the plate without the ball. If he doesn’t block the plate, base runners must slide. If he blocks the plate, hitters are allowed to collide. This rule admittedly caused many umpires headaches last year. Plays at the plate have been a delight to all baseball fans for decades. There was even a video game, BIGS 2, based off home plate collisions. Manfred vows the kinks have been worked out. Do you trust him?
Lastly, there has been a noticeable plunge in the power department the last few years. To prove this point, I will compare 2009 statistics to those of last year. In 2009, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Mark Reynolds, Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira, and Carlos Peña all had at least 39 long bombs. The only players still on the same teams they were on in 2009 are Howard and Teixeira. Most, if not all, of these players have noticeably faded from stardom. Now let’s look at 2014’s sluggers. Last year, only Nelson Cruz (40 HRS) had more than 39 home runs. Last year, Adrian Gonzalez, Mike Trout, and Miguel Cabrera were the only players with at least 109 RBI. In 2009, 10 players had at least 109 RBI, including Howard and Fielder, who each tied with 141 RBI.
In 2009 and 2014, Ichiro and Jose Altuve respectively led the league with 225 hits. This shows that Ichiro, hit king of the 2000’s, essentially passed the baton on to Altuve, potential hit king of the 2010’s. Offensive production is plunging, but most of today’s top talent is under 27 years old. Baseball’s offensive numbers should start to gradually increase soon. This writer is very excited for Opening Day and you should be too.