Are the MLB rules changes having any real effect? | The Bandwagon

Yahoo Sports MLB writers Hannah Keyser and Zach Crizer take a look at how this season’s rules changes have affected the style of play early in the season. Hear the full conversation on “The Bandwagon” - Yahoo Sports’ new baseball podcast - and subscribe on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen.

Video transcript

HANNAH KEYSER: I think none of the new rules are having terrible, unintended, bad effects. And they're all doing a little of what we want-- most notably, again, pushing all that action into a slightly smaller time frame. And that is great. But they're not really actually changing the style of play.

ZACH CRIZER: Right. I think what I've taken away from this is mostly that, aside from the pitch timer, which is a seismic change that is just keeping the game moving along, the other changes tell me it's really hard to actually change baseball from what it is at the moment, especially right now when teams are so attuned to the optimal strategy of everything they're doing and how to go about winning games the best ways-- you're not going to budge them off that spot that much.

They're going to just-- if you move the spot 3 inches, they're just going to find the new spot. That's kind of how baseball works now. I think there are certainly things you could do that would change the game more. But I think people are just recognizing is OK. It's OK.

Change was fine. And it didn't alter the sport entirely. It just tweaked a few things. And, honestly, what I think MLB should take from this is you don't want to do the pitch clock level change every year, but maybe we can try things like this often.

It doesn't have to be this once in a generation swing for the fences where you have to get everyone on board for this one big thing. I think they can try more things. I think it's kind of a license to try a little bit more, because it's not changing the face of the sport entirely.

HANNAH KEYSER: Yeah. The Ben Lindbergh article specifically talks about, and talks to [INAUDIBLE] about the fact that strikeouts are not down. One of the biggest, most intractable problems in baseball has been the ever increasing strikeout rate, because not letting guys put the ball in play is a very good way to prevent any kind of offense against you.

The balls in play, which is something that Baseball Reference tracked, I thought this was interesting-- so balls in play is at bats minus strikeouts minus runs, plus sac fly-- are the third lowest ever behind just 2020 and 2021 at 24.24 balls in play per game. That's just, like, the number of--

ZACH CRIZER: Things that happen.

HANNAH KEYSER: Things that happen in the game. That needs to go up. That needs to go up. That's, like, the number one biggest problem in baseball. And it's because pitchers are too good.