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MLB keeps Ghost-Runner Rule & Adds New Changes: Details and Player Reactions

Photo by Charles Murray

Ah the heavily debated ghost-runner rule is now permanent. Major League Baseball has determined that placing a runner at second base during each start of every extra-inning is valuable. What is the value some ask? The thinking behind the ghost-runner is to shorten the time of play. In doing so the theory is that it will also lessen the risks of injury to pitchers. Many managers have pitchers who are used in hitter matchups or are set up for just one inning. Taking this into account the pitchers wouldn’t be as taxed in extra-inning games.

Will the ghost-runner rule significantly cut down game time?

The numbers support that the ghost-runner rule did reduce the length of extra-inning games. This rule was introduced in the 2020 COVID season and it stayed through last season.

Let’s take a look at the 2019 season that was the last to be played without this change. 37 games went 13 innings or more and 8 games went more that 15 innings. There was a significant drop last season as we saw just 11 games go over 13 innings and none lasted more than 15.

Guardians’ fans remember a very important 15-inning game that sent the team to the ALDS. Oscar Gonzalez homered off of former Cleveland pitcher, Corey Kluber, to give the Guardians a 1-0 victory. The rookie’s home run also ended a marathon four hour and 57-minute game. The game that almost hit the five hour mark was the longest 0-0 game in postseason history.

Ghost-runner meets old school resistance

The opinions on the ghost-runner rule are vastly different. The old school baseball fan sees it as a fundamental change in the game. This is true, however, with pitchers now pitching one inning or being brought in to face a certain batter the longer games deplete the pitching staff.

Some have voiced they could be on board with the rule if it began say after the 12th inning. Others are happy with the change so they don’t have to sit through extended games. The one thing that I struggle with in changes to speed up games is that baseball is the sport without a clock. The game played in its purest form doesn’t have a buzzer to end a quarter such as basketball or a two-minute warning at the end of a football game. However, the argument can be made that this is giving baseball a form of overtime.

What is new in 2023?

There are three major changes to be implemented this season.

Bigger bases

Home plate will stay the same yet 1st,2nd and 3rd base will increase from 15 inches on each side to 18 inches. This change is to offer safety by allowing more room to eliminate collisions between base runners and fielders. Will the additional three inches allow more stolen bases? That remains to be seen.

Say goodbye to the shift

We see shifts on almost every hitter this will be restricted in the 2023 season. The defense must have a minimum of four players in the infield. Thus, going further at least two of the infielders need to be on either side of 2nd base. The purpose of this change is to cause an increase on balls in play for infielders. It will also allow the batter to hit naturally and essentially could eliminate automatic outs.

Guardians pitcher Triston McKenzie talked about eliminating the shift with reporter, Andre Knott. “I think it’s going to change how we play the game currently, but I still think it’s going to be baseball,” the pitcher said. “I think the game is going to have to be a little more athletic in certain aspects, but I don’t think it’s going to change the game to a degree that everybody thinks it’s going to change to. I think there’s going to be numbers that are going to change, but the game is going to the same.” Knott said that some of the Guardians hitters could really benefit from the shift ban. McKenzie referenced his teammate, Jose Ramirez, specifically, saying, “And I’m excited for it (for Jose.)

Ramirez consistently knocks the ball up the middle. If the silver slugger continues to do so without the shift his numbers could sky rocket.


Photo by Charles Murray

Pitch clock

The pitch timer was talked about and practiced with last season. The aforementioned comment that baseball is the only game without a clock is still true…somewhat. Introducing the timer will not change the fact that the game is still played through innings. However, to increase the pace the league has introduced a 30-second timer for pitchers between batters. Hurlers now have 15 seconds after getting the ball to begin their motion with the bases empty. If there are base runners the pitcher will have 20 seconds.

The pitchers will be allowed two pickoff attempts each plate appearance with a runner on first. Each step-off, pickoff or disengagement will reset the clock.

Pitchers aren’t the only ones to have a clock. Batters are required to be in the box and address the pitcher within eight seconds. If the hitters fail to do so they will get an automatic strike. Each batter will be given one time-out per plate appearance.

Whew, did you get all of that?

The new changes will be implemented starting during Spring Training and ready to go for Opening Day. There are sure to be some growing pains as the players adjust. The fans will continue to debate the changes and we’ll hear more from the players on how they feel.

Twins outfielder, Joey Gallo, gave his thoughts on the new rules during a recent podcast with Rob Bradford. Gallo said, “I just don’t think people want to watch pitching and defense…I think they want to see people hitting the ball and scoring run and running around the bases.”

Gallo acknowledges that the diehard fans may object to some of the changes. However he states that, “Hopefully these rule changes kind of implement a little bit more action and entertainment for the casual fan and not just always for the diehard baseball fan. I think, for baseball, you’re trying to attract a bigger, grander audience, and it’s hard to do that if it’s just not exciting to watch slow-paced games.”

Can the diehard, old school fans let go of some of their feelings to welcome in younger and less intense fans? Every thing in life changes with the times and baseball is becoming one of those things.


I attended Malone College to pursue a Journalism career in Politics...I have found that writing about Sports is a lot more fun! I am an avid NBA, MLB & NFL fan. Find me on Twitter @nats_sportschat



  1. Roger Kester

    February 23, 2023 at 7:23 pm

    All these stupid changes are only going to drive more fans away from the game! If they don’t want to be at a ball park watching game, stay home! I got one if you really want to speed up the game, each batter only gets one strike! And the pitcher can only pitch 5 innings! And the owners can only charge $5.00 a seat! Bring back the old days and ship all the crybabies of today to RUSSIA!

  2. John Houston

    February 24, 2023 at 6:23 am

    If it ain’t broke don’t fix it! Anyway the game of baseball ⚾️ STILL has a DH in the AL and no DH in the NL are they even gonna address that? They’re too worried about speeding up the game! I agree with Randy it’s about enjoying the game the moment sure there can be a few tweaks that’s fine now it seems we’re going to see a lot of offense with these changes! We will see!

  3. Jay

    February 24, 2023 at 10:48 am

    These comments really demonstrate the basic truism, the people who whine about rule changes are not real DieHard fans of the game. They are people who have been fans of the game for a long time, but they don’t actually follow the game closely now, probably don’t go to games or subscribe to any package. That one guy thinks the NL doesn’t have the DH! Talk about clueless!

  4. Pingback: Tick Tock Goes the Pitch Clock: Take-Aways from Guardians Loss to Reds

  5. Pingback: Baseball, make it snappy! Got STUFF to do!

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