With the MLB season right around the corner, fans all across the nation are excited and anxious to see how the season will play out. After the league announced that the season would be shortened from 162 games to 60 games, many fans knew that this season would be unlike anything they had seen before. There is a bright spot to this however.
The league has been criticized for years of being too "old school" and not making any efforts to make the game move along quicker. But now the fans' voices seem to be heard, as the league sees this season, which was halted due to COVID-19, as a great opportunity to play with new ideas.
Along with things like expanded rosters to start the season, there are also many other innovative things to look out for in the upcoming season. Here are the top 4:
1. The National League Designated Hitter
This one is the most obvious but one of the more exciting ones to baseball fans. Ever since the 1973 season, the American League has used the designated hitter in their team's lineups. It was first introduced to bring attendance up to AL games, as they fell behind in scoring year after year to the rival National League. While it was introduced for both leagues, the NL rejected the rule, and the two leagues have been playing under this different rule ever since.
Fast forward to 2020, and the National League has finally decided to bring in the DH. With this innovative change finally official, teams from the NL are now having to adjust their strategy, with no choice but to adapt to the change. Many general managers have heavily favored this change, as it could mean better offense, and less injuries to their pitchers. Some fans hate it and some fans like it. Either way, the MLB is putting in a new rule many fans have been curious about for decades.
2. Position Players Pitching
This is a fun one. For 2020, the MLB is not restricting any position players from pitching during a game. There was once a catch in this rule. During the planning of this rule, it would originally be enforced that a player could only come in to pitch if his team is down by more than six runs, or if the game went to extra innings. Thankfully, these exceptions were thrown out the window and any player can come in, as long as they're on the lineup card.
3. Extra-Inning Base Runner
Now I can't say that I like this one, however, it is definitely a change to keep your eyes on. At the start of each extra-inning (10th inning and up) a player will be placed at second base. This player will always be the individual who precedes the half inning's leadoff hitter. For example, the player who last hit in the bottom of the 9th, will be placed at second to start the bottom of the 10th. As I said, I would rather see the game played out without any base runners already on, as it normally is, but it is a daring move on the league's part. Something to watch out for.
4. The Three-Batter Minimum Rule
This seems to be another rule (similar to the extra-inning runner) that puts the pitcher at a disadvantage. This new rule requires pitchers to face at least three batters in a half inning before they can be replaced. Why is this a disadvantage? Let's say a pitcher was quickly caught in a jam with the game tied. He's already allowed a hitter to hit a home run and now has a man on third, and it's late in the game. He must face at least one last batter before he can be removed from the game. It will be interesting to see how some of the top pitchers can handle these pressure situations. Most of them want to stay in the game anyhow.