Jeff Passan at ESPN wrote an article laying out a bunch of changes including roster size, shortening commercial breaks, lessening mound visits, only one trade deadline among others. There are two changes coming, one in 2019 and one in 2020 that I wanted to highlight and discuss.
Re-upping for those who missed overnight: A $1M prize for the Home Run Derby winner, a three-batter minimum for pitchers, an ASG Election Day and momentum toward large changes in MLB’s core economics are at the heart of an agreement to be announced today: https://t.co/b7yvvVdxMd— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 14, 2019
The first change is being implemented in 2019 and I think it is pretty awesome. I remember being a kid and being so stoked for the Home Run Derby every year. Seeing guys like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa go at it in the derby? What was better than that? MLB will be issuing an incentive for the Home Run Derby where there will be $2.5 million in prize money, including a $1 million payout to the winner.
The million dollar HR Derby prize is cool, but call me when they finally start using metal bats.— Cespedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) March 14, 2019
Why is this great? It will incentivize players that normally would scoff at the derby to actually do it. No offense to guys like Max Muncy and Jesus Aguilar who are great players, but I want to see the very best hitters going at it in the derby. Some players may pass anyway, but I want to see guys like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge and Nolan Arenado all being a part of the Home Run Derby instead of maybe one.
This could also be a way where you introduce and publicize the young up and coming stars of the game that will attract the viewers. Imagine seeing major power bats like Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Eloy Jimenez and Pete Alonso competing in the derby? Those guys would go in trying very hard because $1 million is double what they make in their early couple seasons in the big leagues. All in all it rewards players and gives fans more reason to check it out. The general baseball fan wants to see stars, and MLB needs to do a better job of promoting its stars. The Home Run Derby in no way makes stars in itself, but it can be a contributing factor. I can’t wait to see what the field for the Derby is this year with this new cool incentive.
I gave MLB some props on the cool incentive for the Home Run Derby, but now I am going to get into something that I don’t know if it is possible for me to dislike it more. The minimum 3 batter rule that reportedly would go into effect in 2020. This is so bad on so many levels it surprises me that it is even a thing that is really happening. First off, this is an employment killer for some pitchers. Guys like Jerry Blevins, Oliver Perez, Luis Avilan and others who have made a career out of being a left handed specialist will be rendered much less useful by teams. Think about it, how many times did Blevins come in for the Mets and strike out Bryce Harper and his day was done? With the 3 batter minimum he might have to face Harper and then Rhys Hoskins and Andrew McCutchen who are right handed hitters who crush lefties.
It’s amazing how not one person likes the 3 batter minimum rule. How could the MLB think this is the right move going forward.— Marc (@GiraffeNeckMarc) March 14, 2019
It makes those pitchers much less effective, thus possibly having teams not value carrying them. What if your pitcher just doesn’t have it that day and walks two guys on 8 pitches? You don’t have a choice but keep him in for a third batter. When you get late into games every batter truly matters and that is a staple of strategy in baseball.
Another negative is that it is a health and safety risk for relief pitchers specifically. They would warm up throwing 30 pitches or so (granted not full bore, but still), then come in and get their batter out and come out. Now you have them throwing those 30 warm up pitches, coming in and who knows how long it takes to get through 3 batters. It could be a 25 pitch inning, thus a 55 pitch day and relievers are expected to go with frequency such as two out of every three games.
The only exceptions are if you finish an inning or are injured. So if a starter goes 6 and 2/3 innings, you can use a reliever for that one out and not required to send him back out for the next inning. Also if someone is injured they will not force you to pitch an injured player of course.
I can foresee some ways to work the system a bit with injuries. I just see this as a complete negative for the players and for the game. You maybe could have talked me into a 2 batter minimum to help speed the game a bit, but 3 to me is an absolutely horrific idea. Let’s hope they can alter it to make more sense because as it’s being proposed is rough.