One of the ongoing challenges Rob Manfred has faced during his tenure as MLB commissioner has been improving the time of games. The league first implemented pace-of-play initiatives for the 2015 season, during which time games averaged 2 hours, 56 minutes.
That was down six minutes from the season prior. In 2016, the average time of games increased to an even three hours. And this year, the mean was 3 hours, 5 minutes. Though, it jumped to 3 hours and 29 minutes during the postseason.
Recently, a clock to limit the dead time between innings has been utilized, and this season was the first that managers had a maximum of 30 seconds to decided whether they would like to request a replay.
Moreover, replay officials in New York now only have two minutes to review a play. This season was also the first time in which an intentional walk did not require a pitcher to deliver four balls to the plate.
Speaking at the General Managers’ Meetings this week, Manfred indicated more pace-of-play changes are coming in 2018, regardless of whether the players’ association approves of them, according to Ronald Blum of the Associated Press:
“My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can’t get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners’ meeting.
Recent discussions between the league and union have centered around a 20-second pitch clock, limiting catchers to one mound visit per each inning, and raising the strike zone from beneath the kneecap to just above it.
It’s unclear which changes Manfred would move to unilaterally impose next season, and it’s plausible changes could staggered over the course of multiple years.