Rules changed for 60-game 2020 season. Photo by Ben Hershey for Unsplash.
By Taylor Ogata, Staff Reporter
The 2020 Major League Baseball season had been reduced to 60 games, due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic that postponed the start of the season by nearly four months.
Normally, the season would have begun around late March-early April, but since the pandemic hit the season was postponed until late July.
During the lengthened offseason, MLB decided to re-write some rules for the shortened season. Among those rule changes included using the Designated Hitter (DH) for the entire league when it exclusively belonged to the American League.
The universal DH rule was implemented to avoid putting a strain on pitchers by having them hit and run bases.
“I personally like the difference in the rules between the American and National Leagues,” CSUDH baseball head coach Tyler Wright said. “Managers in the NL tend to have to be more strategic throughout the game with substitutions. At the same time, offense is what the majority of fans come to watch for and adding the DH is probably good as a whole for the league.”
Another notable rule change affected extra innings. If a game goes beyond regulation, the tenth inning will begin with the team batting having a runner (the player who made the last out in the previous offensive inning) on second base.
This rule was implemented to increase the chance of having the game end by the tenth inning with having a runner already in scoring position.
“I really do not like this rule,” Wright said. “I don’t think it is necessary and do not like changing the game to choose a winner.”
According to statistics given by MLB.com, 8.26% of all regular-season games went beyond regulation over the last five years. In 2019, there were 208 extra-inning games, which accounted for 8.56% of all games.
Prior to Spring training in March, MLB enacted a rule stating that all pitchers, including those out of the bullpen, must face a minimum of three batters or pitch until the inning is over before being removed from the game. The only exception to this rule is injury or illness.
The main reason for this rule is because of specialist relievers who are only used for one batter because of a favorable matchup. For example, a left-handed pitcher who only faces left-handed batters where the pitcher would most likely prevail (often nicknamed a “LOOGY” which stands for “left-handed one-out guy”).
“I’m not really crazy about that rule either,” Wright said. “I like the idea of making changes based on the strengths of your club. That rule eliminates some of that ability.”
There are a lot of other new rules for this season as well, but the aforementioned rules have had a huge impact on games this year.
The regular season is expected to conclude near the end of September and the postseason will take place throughout October and possibly early November.