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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Report: MLB pushing to change intentional walks, raise strike zone

Gary Sanchez walk

Major League Baseball is pushing for some major changes that could change how games are officiated going forward.

Sources told ESPN’s Jayson Stark that the league has proposed a major change to intentional walks. Under MLB’s proposal, a team would simply have to indicate their desire to put a batter on, and the pitcher would no longer have to throw the requisite four balls to put the man on first.

In addition, the league wants to raise the strike zone approximately two inches from the bottom of the kneecap to the top of it, thus taking away the low strike from pitchers.

Both changes would have to be approved by the MLBPA, and the union is currently sounding out players on the possible changes.

The intentional walk move seems particularly ill-advised. There was an intentional walk once every 5.2 games in 2016, and the rule change would only take about a minute per walk off game times. In addition, the rule would take away the fact that some pitchers are more comfortable throwing intentional balls than others. We have seen intentional walk attempts end in wild pitches or even swings that lead to the pitch being put in play. Sure, such occasions are rare, but intentional walks as a whole aren’t that common either and would do little to address the pace-of-game issue that commissioner Rob Manfred is so devoted to fixing.

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