There were many changes in the American professional baseball major league in 2023. The most noteworthy is the ‘pitch clock’. The pitcher must throw the ball within 15 seconds when there are no runners and 20 seconds when there are runners. The batter must be in the batter’s box before 8 seconds. It is a way to shorten the game time. In fact, the average game time has been reduced by 31 minutes (as of April 10) due to pitch clock and defensive shift (transformation) restrictions.
The size of the square-shaped base has also changed안전놀이터. For the safety of the players, the width and height were increased from 15 inches (38.1 cm) to 18 inches (45.72 cm). I wonder what the relationship between base size and player safety is, but it can reduce injuries such as tripping on a base and spraining an ankle or stepping on a defender’s spike while sliding.
The distance between bases remains 90 feet (27.43m), but the larger base means that the distance between 1st and 2nd base and between 2nd and 3rd base has also decreased. It is about 4.5 inches (11.43 cm) shorter than in 2022. The difference doesn’t seem too big, but the difference between stolen bases and out/safe is divided. The probability of living while stealing has increased that much, and this is also shown in statistics.
Looking at the record for the opening week of the major leagues alone, in 91 games in 2023, 154 stolen bases were attempted (average of 1.69 per game) and 124 were successful. The success rate reaches 80.5%. In 2022, he had 89 stolen base attempts in 87 games (average of 1.02 per game), with 61 successful. His stealing success rate is 68.5%. In 2023, I ran more and lived more. According to MLB.com, the average number of stolen base attempts and successful attempts per game during the opening week of the 2023 season is the highest since 1997 (average 2.35 attempts per game, 1.66 successful).
In terms of the stealing success rate (based on the opening week), it exceeded 80% for the first time. MLB.com predicts that the stealing success rate for the entire 2023 season as well as the opening week will exceed 80% for the first time ever. The butterfly effect brought about by the 3-inch (7.62 cm) larger base size. Major league experts predict that a player can steal 70 to 80 bases in a season. No major league player has stolen more than 70 bases since Jose Reyes (78) in 2007. There is also a reason why there was no place for long swords as the dependence on home runs increased.
In the major leagues, in the 1980s when Ricky Henderson and Vince Coleman were active, there were players who recorded triple-digit stolen bases, but not now. The era of 100 stolen bases in a season will not come again soon due to the change in base size, but it seems clear that the color of ‘one more step’ has been applied to the league that used to be ‘one shot’. This is because clubs have more player scouting options. Clubs will also realize that home runs aren’t everything in baseball. It will definitely be another motivation for the fast-footed young players.
If you look at the history of baseball, the major leagues have tried to change depending on the league situation. Just look at the distance between the pitcher’s plate and home plate. Prior to 1881, the distance between the pitcher’s plate and home plate was 45 feet (13.71 m). However, in 1883, as overhand pitching, in which the ball was raised over the shoulder and thrown, became possible, it became increasingly difficult for batters to hit the ball and the league became uninteresting. Accordingly, the position of the throwing board was adjusted to 60.5 feet (18.44 m). In 1892, the league batting average was 0.245, but rose to 0.280 the following year when the pitcher was pushed back by about 3m.
The designated hitter system was created for the excitement of the league. In the 1960s, the major leagues were the heyday of pitching. In the case of 1968, a pitcher with 31 wins (Denny McLain) came out, but in the field of offense, a batting average of .301 (0.301) ranked first. As the hitters continued, discussions began about batters who only attack without defending under the consensus that the league can succeed only when the batting is alive. In 1973, the designated hitter was introduced for the first time in the American League. The National League, which adhered to the tradition of pitchers standing at bat, is also implementing the designated hitter system from 2022. In Major League Baseball, the pitcher no longer sits at the plate. The pitcher’s batting average record also remained just a page in baseball history (except for Shohei Ohtani, who is both a pitcher and a hitter).
From the 2020 season, the major leagues are also playing games (starting an attack from second base without a runner, excluding the postseason) during the 10th overtime. It is a system that was temporarily introduced due to problems with the supply and demand of players during the Corona 19 period, but it was agreed to implement it permanently in early 2023. In other words, the final game was played without a draw, but the game was decided in a more efficient way. To baseball orthodox who value records, the birth of a ghost runner in overtime may be distasteful, but it is also true that long overtime matches do not fit the trend of the times.
Changes in systems and rules also affect records. It will shake the season record as well as the career record. Of course, in the case of stealing bases in the major leagues, it is close to the ‘four walls’. Henderson (1406) is the only person to record more than 1,000 stolen bases in his career. Who knows though. Will there be someone who will threaten his record in the distant future when the 3-inch-larger base continues to be maintained?
In an interview with the American sports media <The Athletic>, Henderson said, “I wanted the base size to remain the same as before for the value of my record,” but “It’s okay if I can make the game more exciting. Instead of a one-dimensional attack, I want to see more exciting and lively baseball.” Coleman, who set a goal of ‘at least 50 steals before the All-Star break,’ said, “I’m not saying you can’t do it (100 steals this season). I want to see someone come even close to the record.” A record that seemed impossible was opened up with just a 3-inch change in the base. Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona, who was concerned about the change, said, “The new rules don’t interfere much with the game. If there are multiple effects, I think the new rules are good.”
There are those who insist on the ‘old things’ unconditionally, whether it is tradition or custom. However, according to the trend of the times, the old things sometimes become obsolete and become an element that hinders the development of the entire organization. Sometimes, flexibility is also necessary for a sustainable future. In a baseball game, the base is just a medium that keeps the flow of the game going.
Someone continues to obsess over the ’15-inch base’, which would not even interest them if they did not know baseball. Nothing changes if you can’t let go of anything. What is the 15-inch base that we should throw away?