Rob Manfred: MLB Likely Keeping Automatic Runner Rule For Extra Innings

When MLB was looking to navigate a regular season amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the league and Players Association (MLBPA) agreed to the implementation of an automatic runner being placed on second base during extra innings in the interest of health and safety.

The rule did not carryover into the postseason that year, but returned in 2021 despite initial indications that would not be the case. Such held true for 2022 as well, even with mixed reactions to the ‘ghost runner’ from managers and players since its inception.

As part of negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) last offseason, MLB and the MLBPA agreed to establishing a competition committee for evaluating and deciding which potential rule changes would be implemented.

During an interview with Chris Russo on Sirius XM Radio, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said the automatic runner is expected to remain in place, via Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports:

While the designated runner rule was first meant to have some health benefit, it has also been part of various measures that reduced length of games.

That’s been a focal point for Manfred and remains at the core of the league seeking further rule changes in the years ahead.

There were 350 games to go at least 10 innings this season, but only one went past 15.

MLB automatic runner rule

Under the ghost runner rule, the player who made the final out of the previous inning is selected to go on second base for the next extra inning.

However, if the player in the batting order immediately preceding that half-inning’s leadoff hitter is a pitcher, the runner placed on second base at the start of that half-inning may be the player preceding the pitcher in the batting order.

Any runner or batter removed from the game for a substitute shall be ineligible to return to the game, as is the case in all circumstances.

For purposes of calculating earned runs, the runner who begins an inning on second base pursuant to the rule will be considered one that reached second base because of a fielding error, but no error shall be charged to the opposing team or to any player.

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