Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced on Thursday morning that there are some new rules and tweaks to current rules that will be instituted in the coming season.
No pitch intentional walk: Rather than being forced to throw four pitches to intentionally walk an opposing batter, a team will now be able to signal to the umpire that they wish to award a batter first base. A potential loophole could allow a pitcher to enter and leave the game without physically throwing a pitch.
Managerial decision time limit: Managers will now be limited to 30 seconds to make a decision regarding a potential replay review. This is something that comes into play on questionable plays to end innings, as there’s often confusion as to whether a challenge should be allowed. This will put any confusion to rest.
Eighth inning umpire review: Up until now a manager has been allowed to ask the Crew Chief of the umpiring crew to review a questionable play starting in the seventh inning if the manager was out of challenges. Starting this season, a manager won’t be able to ask until the start of the eighth inning. Home run calls are exempt from this rule.
Limit for replay official decisions: Replay Officials will now be required to make a final decision on a play within two minutes of a review being instituted. There will be exceptions to this rule, though no specifics were listed.
Nothing allowed on the field to help identify location: “A prohibition on the use of any markers on the field that could create a tangible reference system for fielders.” We’re not entirely sure why this is suddenly so important to the league when there are other, more pressing issues, but that’s the rule regardless.
Regulations on pitchers’ wind-ups and deliveries: “A pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch.” If a pitcher does this with no runners on base, an illegal pitch will be called, resulting in a ball. If there is a runner on the base-paths the motion will be called a balk, advancing the runner.
Base coaches must stay in designated boxes: Before this amendment, the first and third base coaches were supposed to stay within the coach’s boxes, but the rule was rarely, if ever, enforced. The league will presumably be enforcing this rule in the upcoming season. The coaches will be allowed to leave their boxes once a ball is put in play.
All in all, these new rules shouldn’t affect the Tigers too much. Most of the changes are just amending or enforcing current rules. The biggest change is probably the intentional walk rule, and that doesn’t come into play very often.