How Beneficial Are Baseball's New Rules?
We are just over a month into the 2023 baseball season, but the rule changes implemented over the offseason already have a significant impact on the game. From new pitch clocks to bigger bases, baseball put a big focus on making the game faster and more entertaining, which has paid off so far. As someone who watches baseball most of the season, I can't help but wonder if these changes will change baseball's momentum for good.
Before this season, baseball was starting to lose viewership, which was a result of the long duration of most games. With plenty of stoppages during contests, the average length of a game last year was just over three hours. Even the biggest and most loyal baseball fans were starting to voice their concern about the increasing times of each game. There were even some games where I was relieved for it to be over regardless of who won.
As a result of the growing complaints, the MLB spent the offseason prioritizing ways to make games shorter. With an abundance of new rules, games are already looking drastically different than before. For one, the time it takes before and during at-bats is a lot shorter than in years past. Pitchers now have 30 seconds to throw a pitch in between batters, along with a 15 second clock during pitches with no one on base, and a 20 second clock with runners on. Hitters will also be held accountable during their at-bats. They must be in the batter's box by the time there's eight seconds left, or else they'll be charged with a strike.
In addition, the MLB also set out to make rules more favorable for offenses with the banning of the shift and bigger bases. Defenses are now required to place two players on each side of the infield, while the size of bases have jumped from 15 inches square to 18. Both rules are major attempts to generate excitement in hopes of giving some of the game's most talented players more opportunities to flourish. All-stars such as Shohei Ohtani, who's hit 80 home runs in the last two years, and Trea Turner, who's stolen more bases than anyone else since 2016, will now be even more dangerous thanks to these changes.
It's still early in the season, but the effects from the new rules can't be ignored. The average length for an MLB game is almost 30 minutes shorter than last season at two and a half hours, while hitting has also seen a significant jump compared to years past. This has ultimately caused a rapid increase in ratings during the young season. Opening day saw the minutes in viewership go up by 42 percent, and the league has maintained that success so far.
Players are still getting used to the rule changes, which is evident given the strikes and balls called due to clock violations whether it's the batter or the pitcher. Some at-bats have literally been determined by the pitch clock, as seen in a Red Sox Braves spring training game where the umpire determined the batter wasn't ready to hit on a 3-2 count with two outs, and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game.
I can personally say that although the Yankees have currently been disappointing, this is indeed a nice welcome change. You can now tolerate watching the sport without having to worry about it taking over your entire evening. This is a busy time of year for sports, with the NBA and NHL playoffs going on, but the number of fans tuning in is an encouraging sign. If baseball is seeing plenty of favorable results at this time of year, imagine how many will be watching during the summer and into the fall.
At one point during the last MLB season, it seemed like a Yankees-Mets Subway Series in October wasn't out of the question. Both teams were loaded with talent, from their pitching staffs to the lineups, and looked destined to make a deep playoff run. Even their matchups lived up to expectations, giving fans a potential preview.
But by the end of the season, any World Series talk was forgotten as the Yankees lost their lead in the American League, while the Mets dropped to second in their division. Both teams would eventually go out in embarrassing fashion during the playoffs. With a new baseball season starting in a week, what must happen for both teams to avoid another disappointing ending?
The Yankees had a much busier offseason compared to last year. They addressed their biggest need in re-signing A.L. MVP Aaron Judge for nine more years of deep home runs and leaping catches at the wall. Given that he's been the team's best player since Derek Jeter, losing Judge would have been a massive mistake. They also added another all star to their pitching staff in Carlos Rodón. These were certainly smart moves, but they won't be the deciding factors in getting the Yankees over the hump.
Instead, the key will be whether their collection of young prospects can make a significant difference. The Yankees already saw Oswaldo Cabrera receive plenty of playing time toward the end of the season and into the playoffs. He can play anywhere in the field and will have an even bigger impact if his hitting improves. They also have two other prospects in shortstops Oswaldo Peraza and Anthony Volpe who are on the horizon toward seeing lots of action. The Yankees are clearly confident in both players since they passed on a loaded group of shortstops in free agency. Every good team has a few homegrown superstars, and if the Yankees can rely on their young talent for a much needed boost, it could be the difference between an ALCS and a World Series.
The Mets, on the other hand, have had a roller coaster offseason ever since it started. They lost two time Cy Young winner Jacob DeGrom, but replaced him with another Cy Young winner in Justin Verlander. They also re-signed Brandon Nimmo and added pitcher Kodai Senga from Japan. However, they saw their contract with shortstop Carlos Correa fall apart over concerns with his physical, and then watch reliever Edwin Diaz tear his ACL while celebrating Puerto Rico's win in the World Baseball Classic.
Even with all the highs and lows, the Mets still have an extremely talented team. Besides the need to temporarily replace Diaz, they do not have many glaring weaknesses. Whether the Mets can take the next step will be determined by their ability to play against inferior competition. While some might point to the Atlanta Braves sweeping them at the end of the year, that could have been avoided if the Mets didn't go 12-9 against teams below .500 during September. That's not going to cut it in one of the most competitive divisions. Like last year, the Mets will have plenty of matchups with teams ready to throw in the towel by fall. If the Mets want to make noise down the stretch, it starts by winning the games where they're favored.
Yankees Need Long Term Pieces To Win It All
This season marked the 13th year without a 28th championship for the New York Yankees. Despite an ALCS appearance, their success is measured by whether the Yankees win the World Series, and losing to the Houston Astros for the third time in six years certainly leaves a bitter taste. With a roster that has many holes, and a series of important decisions to make - most notably re-signing Aaron Judge - it's time the Yankees build a roster with reliable long term players.
Championship teams in baseball are constructed of guys who are already, or will be foundational pieces for years to come. The Yankees once appeared to have a true core of homegrown players, and big names such as Giancarlo Stanton and Gerrit Cole were supposed to be the final piece. Even though those "final pieces" have played exceptionally well, the Yankees as a team have shifted their roster more than expected. This year's team had too many stopgap players and while it may have resulted in regular season success, it's certainly not a way to win in the postseason.
One way the Yankees have always looked to make major upgrades has come through free agency. Although Yankees are known to spend millions each year, they recently have not been as active on the market compared to previous years. If there's a good time to live up to their reputation, this offseason is the perfect time.
For this year's free agency, the Yankees have to be active and while re-signing Anthony Rizzo is a good start, bringing back Aaron Judge is their biggest priority. Fresh off an A.L. record 62 home runs along with his first MVP award, it's imperative the Yankees bring him back considering how he was their only consistent performer. Another player they should resign is left fielder Andrew Benintendi who gives them an additional lefty that's a contact hitter as well as a solid fielder.
As for acquiring players, the Yankees will have a bevy of talented shortstops who are all the primes of their career. Although there are plenty of big names, Trea Turner and Dansby Swanson should really be the top of their list. Besides the fact that both of them have gotten significantly better over the years and won a World Series, they're both in their late 20s. Signing one of them would stabilize one of the most important infield positions for years to come.
While the idea of constructing a winning roster through free agency is always appealing, the most recent teams to win the World Series have had a healthy portion of homegrown talent. But other than Aaron Judge, the Yankees' roster doesn't feature many players from their farm system. However, they have a few intriguing players worth fully investing in.
One player that deserves more playing time is Oswaldo Cabrera. He was called up in mid-August and would slowly play his way into becoming a consistent starter through his stellar play in the field. His hitting is still a work in progress but that should change once he gets more experience. Although he's capable of playing plenty of positions, Cabrera should be the third baseman given that Josh Donaldson turned out to be a major disappointment.
In addition, the Yankees have two infielders who could make an impact in Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza. Although they both play shortstop, the Yankees should give one of these guys a legitimate shot whether it's Volpe, Peraza, or both of them. They could do this by passing up on some of the shortstops on the market. But the best case scenario is to trade Gleyber Torres to make room at second for either Volpe or Peraza once the Yankees do sign a shortstop.
What allowed the Yankees to have their last dynasty is that they had a sustainable nucleus of players that led the way each year. With the perfect mix of draft picks and free agent signings, the Yankees roster was able to stay intact. If the Yankees want to replicate that success, they must make moves that will give them a foundation along with some direction.
With the Yankees' season ending in the hands of the Houston Astros yet again, all eyes will focus on Aaron Judge's looming decision in free agency. After rejecting a $213 million offer before the season, Judge significantly raised his value by hitting an A.L. record 62 home runs, while knocking in 131 runs. As for the Yankees, they looked like World Series favorites going into the all-star break, but after another postseason disappointment, re-signing Judge may not be so certain. Regardless of where he signs, and for how much, Judge is already a winner of free agency.
There is still a strong possibility of him returning to the Yankees. Although he's only been on the team for six years, Judge has easily been the best player to wear pinstripes after Derek Jeter. He is a homegrown player who has represented the organization as well as anybody could for the last six years. Since Judge's rookie year, the Yankees have never missed the playoffs. Re-signing Judge would make him a Yankee for life which is a very good honor for any ballplayer. With Judge on the roster, the Yankees will certainly be playoff contenders every year. Whether he wins a World Series or not, 99 will certainly be retired someday by the organization.
However, it's worth wondering if Judge would really want to continue playing for an organization that has constantly came up short time and time again. From the team's second half slump to their playoff collapse, Judge has every right to question whether it's worth staying with a franchise that seems to be more known for their disappointment rather than their success as of late.
In this postseason, Judge might've slumped at the worst time, but he wasn't the one who couldn't convert a potential double play in an elimination game. He didn't choose to take Gerrit Cole out of the game when he was still at 95 pitches. He also wasn't the one who assembled a roster that consisted of guys who are viewed as "stopgap" players. As for the fans, Judge has every right to question whether he wants to play for a fanbase that shockingly booed him during the playoffs.
Going elsewhere would be a fresh start, and maybe even a homecoming for Judge if he signs with the hometown San Fransisco Giants who are rumored to have interest. Whereas the Yankees always seem to be stubborn in their approach towards winning, Judge may have a better chance of winning if he signs with a team that's willing to adapt year in and year out.
I think another year without a championship definitely complicates Judge's status as a Yankee. If there's anything their front office is good at, it's resigning players in free agency. However, the Yankees have thrown Judge under the bus at times, and that could haunt them this offseason. Fans should at least prepare for possibility of seeing number 99 in new threads.
After an underwhelming 2021 season, it was believed that the Yankees' window to contend for a championship was starting to close. These opinions only became stronger as the Yankees had a quiet offseason where they made a lot of under the radar moves rather than going on their typical spending spree in free agency. Since the season started however, the Yankees have been dominating every opponent in their way. They are currently riding a 47-16 record which is not only best in the American League, but in all of baseball. Here are all the reasons for their spectacular start.
1. A More Balanced Lineup
The heart of the Yankees' lineup, without question, centers around Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. When healthy, they are one of baseball's more feared hitting duos, which is something pitchers dealt with last year. As of now, they have picked up right where they left off. Stanton has hit 13 home runs while Judge has taken his game to another level, clobbering an absurd 25 home runs. They are both on pace to hit over 30 home runs, although Judge might hit 66 at this rate. Let's not forget that he also leads the team in almost every other hitting category.
The big difference for Judge and Stanton this year, is that they have much more help at the plate. Anthony Rizzo has had a lower batting average than in years past, but he's well on pace to eclipse his home run and RBI total from last year. Meanwhile, Gleyber Torres only needed 58 games to match his home run total from the last two years combined. Additionally, the Yankees have a well rounded group of contact hitters led by DJ Lemahieu, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Jose Trevino. Out of all their hitters, Trevino has been the biggest surprise, hitting .300 while delivering two walk-offs this season.
2. Better Pitching and a Fundamentally Sound Defense
Last year, the Yankees' pitching staff had some stretches where they looked unhittable while other times, they needed 25 pitches just to get out of an inning. This year, they've been far more consistent. All of their starting pitchers have a winning record with the highest ERA being Gerrit Cole's 3.33. Despite this, Cole overcame a shaky start to the season and has looked like the $324 million ace the Yankees payed him to be, leading the team in strikeouts to go along with a 6-1 record. Nestor Cortes has been baseball's biggest breakout star as of now. His 5-2 record, 1.96 era, and 71 strikeouts make him all but a lock to start for the A.L. in the all star game. The rest of the rotation consists of a fully healthy Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, and Jameson Taillon who have all contributed toward the Yankees having the lowest era in the majors at 2.81.
Defensively, the Yankees have been much more respectable in the field compared to last season. This is because Aaron Boone has been playing guys where they are comfortable at, whether it's Gleyber Torres returning to second base or Giancarlo Stanton playing in the outfield more often. For Stanton to excel in the field, Aaron Judge has made the transition to center field where he's shown that he can cover ground as well as any other center fielder. Behind the plate, Kyle Higashioka and Jose Trevino have proved to be defensive upgrades, as Yankee pitchers no longer have to worry about their pitches going to the backstop. These adjustments are a big reason why the Yankees are in the top three for runs saved defensively. Without the improvement of their defense the Yankees would not have baseball's best record by such a wide margin.
3. Long Term Outlook
There's no reason to think that the Yankees can't continue their dominant stretch. Aaron Boone has been pressing all the right buttons and this team not only jells together, but they look like they're having fun which wasn't usually the case last year. Aaron Judge is well on pace to finally win his first career A.L. MVP, they're going to have a bunch of starters for the all-star game, and at this rate they can clinch home field for the entire postseason. As for their current record, (47-16) the only time they've had a better start was in 1998 where they won 114 games en route to a World Series championship. And while there's still a lot of baseball to be played, fans have every right to be extremely optimistic about this team.
Early MLB Playoff Predictions 2022
After more than two months of work stoppage, a brief strike, major offseason moves, and new rule changes, today marks Opening Day for baseball in 2022. Among the notable changes this offseason was the implementation of a new playoff format. For the first time in a full season, there will be six playoff teams in each conference with the two best teams having first round byes while the other four teams will compete in a best of three wild card series. With these additions likely to have a significant impact on this season, here are my predictions.
#3 Toronto Blue Jays over #6. Boston Red Sox
#4 New York Yankees over #5 Tampa Bay Rays
3. Toronto Blue Jays over 2. Houston Astros
1. Chicago White Sox over 4. New York Yankees
3. Toronto Blue Jays over 1. Chicago White Sox
#3 Atlanta Braves over #6 San Fransisco Giants
#4 New York Mets over #4 St. Louis Cardinals
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #4 New York Mets
#2 Milwaukee Brewers over #3 Atlanta Braves
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #2 Milwaukee Brewers
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #3 Toronto Blue Jays
What's Next For The Yankees?
The New York Yankees have been maddeningly inconsistent throughout the 2021 season. With high expectations, they have underachieved. Whenever it looks like they might have figured it out, they once again go back to their losing ways. Even if they somehow sneak into the playoffs, they probably won't go far, and there will certainly be changes once the season ends.
Their problems start at the plate where they can't capitalize with runners in scoring position. The Yankees are practically at the bottom of the league when it comes to that category. Home runs - their strength at the plate - have come less frequently than in other years. They also lack contact hitters; too many players look to hit home runs and end up striking out. DJ LeMahieu, their best contact hitter in recent years, resigned for six years and $90 million, but he hasn't matched his play from the previous two seasons. Guys who were seen as key players in previous years such as Gleyber Torres have struggled. Their power hitter Giancarlo Stanton hasn't been the big time player the Yankees envisioned when they inherited his big contract. Only Aaron Judge has been the most successful hitter this year. He is leading the team in home runs, batting average, and RBIs while staying healthy so far.
As for their pitching, it seems like every time this unit takes one step forward, they then proceed to take two steps back. Gerrit Cole for the most part, has shown why he was worth the big contract the Yankees gave him, but he doesn't get much run support. The same can be said for Jordan Montgomery who pitched five starts without any run support from his teammates before last Thursday. Corey Kluber had appeared to be finding his groove after pitching a no-hitter in mid-May, before injuring his shoulder. By the time he gets back, the Yankees will likely be all, but eliminated from making the postseason. Domingo German and Jamesson Taillon have had their moments, but aren't long term answers. Their bullpen, which was viewed as their biggest pitching strength prior to the season, has blown a bunch of games where they appeared to have a comfortable lead. Three of those blown leads have come when they were leading by four or more runs entering the eighth inning.
These problems however extend beyond the diamond. It has been apparent that Aaron Boone hasn't been able to light a spark in this team, and he's made poor decisions in some of their losses. In their last loss to Boston for example, he pulled Domingo German in the eighth inning after giving up his first hit even though he probably could've pitched to one or two more batters. I've always thought that Boone has been unfairly criticized over the years, but if this team keeps underperforming, there's little he could say to convince management to retain him for another year. That's not to say they're not at fault either. Brian Cashman believed that he had a roster that could contend so he ignored areas that turned out to be flaws, whether it was the lack of left handed hitting, athleticism on defense, or a consistent rotation. Their player development has also been subpar if you realize they've developed no one who looks like a foundational player in the last five years outside of Judge. Cashman has done many good things for the franchise, but with this year likely being their 12th year without even sniffing a World Series, he should go.
Overall, this is looking like a lost season for the Yankees. As mentioned earlier, the only positive from this season has been a healthy Judge. While it's still possible for them to turn it around and sneak into the wild card, it seems more unlikely as they keep losing. On the bright side, the Yankees are usually able to find ways to turn it around after a rough season. That doesn't mean that they should make any moves at the trade deadline. If they find out that the players they want such as Trevor Story or Starling Marte are likely staying put, they should wait for free agency because they're not one player away from turning it around. What they should do at the deadline, is try to trade starters for prospects with high potential. Hopefully, this team makes the necessary moves to climb back in contention.
Last season, the Yankees were a little bit of a disappointment. Picked by many to win the World Series, the Yankees couldn't adapt to a season that was heavily affected by COVID-19. This resulted in a roller coaster season full of high and low moments, ultimately ending in a divisional series loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. But as Spring Training is right around the corner, there are many reasons to look forward to 2021.
One reason for optimism is the Yankees' successful offseason. For the most part, they were able to check off some of their important priorities starting with re-signing star infielder DJ Lemahieu. Since he was signed to a two year contract, Lemahieu has outplayed his deal and has become a major contributor to the team. In the beginning of the offseason, the negotiations for a new contract started off on a rocky note, but both sides were able to agree to a deal consisting of six years and $90 million. In addition, Brian Cashman signed two time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to a one year deal. Despite injuries over the last two seasons, management probably believes that he could add depth to the rotation and become a mentor for the younger pitchers.
There are other bright spots of last year that will be primed to make an impact next season, starting with their 6 ft 7 slugger, Aaron Judge. Last year, he was looking like an MVP candidate during the first stretch of the season, which included six home runs in five games. Injuries put him out of the race, but he returned toward the end of the season, and had a strong postseason. Fellow hitter Giancarlo Stanton also served as a contributor after being sidelined for the majority of last year. While he also dealt with injuries, he returned to play a prominent role when the postseason arrived. Both players have changed their winter routines, in hopes of reducing the amount of injuries they get. Gerrit Cole, their prized free agent signing last offseason, has looked like a good signing for the most part. After a streaky start, he rebounded in September and was very solid in the postseason. With the urgency to win a championship increasing, these guys must continue to produce.
While the Yankees didn't adjust well to the season's modifications as a result of COVID-19, the effect the pandemic had on baseball last year, shouldn't be the case this year. Last season, the shortened schedule affected the Yankees chances of making the playoffs at a higher seed. When there was a month to go toward the end of last season, the Yankees were barely in the playoff picture at a record of 21-21. Had that been in a 162 game season, there wouldn't have been any concern, but here were the Yankees in danger of missing the playoffs. They then went on a tear as the season ended, going on a 10 game winning streak, the kind of momentum that they're usually able to maintain with a full schedule.
Even with last year's disappointing finish, there were still some bright spots that will be essential going into next season. In what will likely be a less uncertain baseball season, the Yankees should be able to rediscover their winning ways on a more consistent basis. On top of that, they checked off some of their most notable offseason priorities. This is a team that can really break through the playoffs and hopefully capture a long-awaited 28th championship.
While this year has been unusual in many ways, it isn't an excuse for another abysmal year of New York Sports. With basketball not starting until December, the Jets and Giants - both at the bottom of the standings - are the only option for fans to watch. Here are all the teams we'll be looking at: the Jets, Giants, Knicks, Nets Yankees, and Mets.
New York Jets - The Jets have been so bad this season that fans are just hoping for the team to tank for a higher draft pick. Head coach Adam Gase is at the center of this storm, not only for how terribly the team is playing, but for Sam Darnold's regression. In addition, Gase's lack of adjustments during halftime and failure to take responsibility after losses hasn't sat well with players. The team is currently in line to select Clemson's phenom quarterback Trevor Lawrence, but they have many more improvements to make, starting with a new coaching staff.
New York Giants - Despite Head Coach Joe Judge making a solid impression, it hasn't translated to wins, as the Giants are in the midst of another rough year at 2-7. Their franchise cornerstone Saquon Barkley is out for the season with a torn ACL, which hasn't helped Daniel Jones in what has been a disappointing sophomore season. General Manager Dave Gettleman will likely get axed at the end of the year, leading the Giants to find a new GM to pair with their rookie coach.
New York Knicks - This upcoming season will likely be another rebuilding year, as the Knicks are still far away from contention. They do have some bright spots such as R.J. Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, who are both building blocks for this franchise. To become a playoff team, they must trade for a proven leader such as Chris Paul to really give some of their young players a boost of confidence. However, their owner James Dolan, who's responsible for the team's dysfunction over the years, has most recently been blamed for his refusal to condemn systematic racism which could make players reluctant to join.
Brooklyn Nets - This team and its fans have many reasons to be excited for next season. With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving poised to share the court for the first time following injuries, hopes for a possible championship are high. They also have a new coach in Hall of Fame point guard (and Durant's friend) Steve Nash, who knows a thing or two about winning dating back to his playing career. Brooklyn's only issues, are Durant's sensitivity and Irving's occasional criticism towards teammates, which could lead to a tumultuous season.
New York Yankees - As of now, there is still a sour taste of disappointment stemming from the team's loss against the Rays in the divisional series. In what was another season filled with injuries, they weren't able to adapt this time compared to last year, leading to a roller coaster season. There's no question that it would've helped if the team adjusted better to baseball's new environment this season, like other teams with high expectations such as the Dodgers. Fortunately with the strong possibility of MVP candidate DJ Lemahieu resigning, they will likely have a chance to run it back next season.
New York Mets - For the Mets, this season was very disappointing. With optimism heading into the season, they never came close to sniffing the playoffs. They do have talented players such as Jacob DeGrom, Pete Alonso, and a couple of impressive rookies in David Peterson and Andres Gimenez, who could have important future roles. Their biggest and most recent change is Steve Cohen's purchase of the team, which may be the fresh start this team needs.
Although there are some reasons for fans to be positive, most New York sports teams still have ways to go before a championship is on the horizon. When the Yankees, who are the city's best team, exit early in the playoffs, that just doesn't add up to a good year. Whether these teams are losing because of their ownership, coaching, or players, disappointment is the perfect term to sum up New York sports.
MLB 2020 Playoff Predictions
This MLB season has already been one of the craziest seasons in recent memory. One week after the season started, there were so many COVID cases that commissioner Rob Manfred threatened to end the season. But the game went on, and with this year's format of 16 playoff teams because of the shortened 60 game season, this postseason will probably be even more wild.
1. Tampa Bay Rays 2 ALDS
8. Toronto Blue Jays 0
1. Tampa Bay Rays 3
5. New York Yankees 2
4. Cleveland Indians 1
5. New York Yankees 2 ALCS
1. Tampa Bay Rays 4
2. Oakland A's 2
3. Minnesota Twins 2
6. Houston Astros 0
2. Oakland A's 3
3. Minnesota Twins 1
2. Oakland A's 2
7. Chicago White Sox 1
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 4
1. Tampa Bay Rays 2
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 2 NLDS
8. Milwaukee Brewers 0
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 3
4. San Diego Padres 0
4. San Diego Padres 2 NLCS
5. St. Louis Cardinals 1
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 4
2. Atlanta Braves 1
3. Chicago Cubs 2
6. Miami Marlins 0
2. Atlanta Braves 3
3. Chicago Cubs 2
2. Atlanta Braves 2
7. Cincinnati Reds 0