Grading the proposed MLB rule changes

FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2018, file photo, the Boston Red Sox celebrate after Game 5 of baseball's World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, in Los Angeles. The goal is the same for the Red Sox in 2019: finish the season flopping around on the pitcher’s mound, celebrating another World Series title. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Over the past few days, baseball Twitter has been up in arms over a proposition to bring the DH to the National League as soon as this season. But this is just one of the many changes that MLB and the MLBPA discussed a week ago; changes that would change the landscape of the way the game is played and managed. For your ease, I’m going to break down the pros and cons of a select few and give them a letter grade based on how good or bad the idea is.

DH to the NL

The pros: I don’t have to have a heart attack when Jacob deGrom gets taken out of a game because he swung the bat weird, and my dad won’t have to send me a million frantic texts about it. The Mets would be much better off with a DH, and it helps to have consistency across baseball and put the two leagues on an even playing field, so to speak.

The cons: By virtue of rooting for an NL team, I enjoy the strategy and chess-playing that goes with having a pitcher in the lineup. If baseball never adopted the DH, I wouldn’t be asking for one now. I’m very much a baseball purist and would rather just have no DH at all, but I’m not going to stop watching baseball if this rule goes through, either. I’ll just be a little upset.

Grade: C+

Three-batter minimum

The pros: Pitching changes are getting a little ridiculous these days. The emergence of the LOOGY has added extra strategy, sure, but it really disrupts the flow of the game when it takes three pitchers to get through a single frame. It’s kind of annoying.

The cons: I place this type of change on the same plane as banning the shift: it’s not worth trying to micromanage how the game is played. We’re in the analytic age right now, and these types of moves reflect that. Despite how adverse baseball fans are to change, the game ebbs and flows like this, and I guarantee in 20 years, this will be a non-issue. Just let the actual game be played the way it is.

Grade: D

A 20-second pitch clock

The pros: This is a pace-of-play initiative that actually makes sense. Twenty seconds is a perfectly reasonable length of time for a pitcher to receive the ball back, figure out what pitch to throw, and get set. It works in the minors and it’ll work in the majors.

The cons: A moment of silence for the Dice-K pitch clock.

Grade: A

A single trade deadline before the All-Star Break

The pros: Just look to the NBA. The frenzy that defines the NBA trade deadline makes it probably the best in major sports. It would force teams to get their roster set at the season’s metaphorical halfway point and stick with it until the end. It forces a GM’s hand a lot more, and that can lead to a lot more excitement.

The cons: I love the two-deadline structure that’s currently in place. The waiver deadline makes it possible for trades like Justin Verlander to the Astros to happen, which undoubtedly led to their World Series victory. Plus, having the waiver deadline the day before rosters expand allow for a different kind of strategy that allows teams like the Astros to acquire stars like Verlander when the rosters expand.

Grade: B-

Expanding roster to 26 with a 12-pitcher maximum

The pros: It gives more players more opportunities to succeed on the field and it allows for more roster flexibility, whether they need it in the bullpen or on the bench. Plus, it’s already used in doubleheaders, so why not just make it universal? Give teams more breathing room, especially for extra innings, and give more players jobs. Get them off that minor league salary.

The cons: Tweet me @steph_sheehan if you can think of any.

Grade: A

A study to lower the mound

The pros: Uh, what? Batters should just stop striking out and change their approach.

The cons: Everything.

Grade: F

Draft penalties for losing, rewards for winning; allowing two-sport amateurs to sign minor league contracts (Kyler Murray rule)

The pros: I’m no draft rule expert, which is why I’m lumping these two together. But I like the idea of de-incentivizing tanking. This idea is plaguing free agency right now, and making it more romantic for teams to try their best to win will make the game better overall. And why not let amateur two-sport athletes play two sports? Make baseball more accessible to people and show that it’s open to getting the best talent possible.

The cons: A select few number of teams could very easily take advantage of the “draft advantages for winning” rule early and make it more difficult for teams who fall behind early to catch up. This is the kind of thing where we can only see how well it works when it actually happens, so… we can dream!

Overall grade: B+


Stephanie Sheehan is the managing editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at stephanie.sheehan@uconn.edu. She tweets @steph_sheehan.