Jorge Matteo, sitting in the dugout at Rogers Center, couldn’t contain the smile, wondering how big a difference of 4 1/2 inches could be.
Big grounds – a A handful of Major League Baseball rule changes Set to take effect next season – reduce the distance between bags. As the base size increases from 15 inches-by-15 inches to 18-by-18, the distance between bags is reduced by 4 1/2 inches.
Matteo is closer at arm’s length than before, without taking a step. And given that he has slipped safely in 30 of his 38 stole-base attempts this season, he hardly needs any assistance.
“Oh my god, it’s like 20 more bases,” said Matteo, recalling the idea. “I like this.”
The exact impact of MLB’s decision to increase the size of bases remains to be seen, but in theory – and in the minds of Matteo and Cedric Mullins, two of the best base steers in baseball – could likely lead to more steals. should go.
With more restrictions on how many pickoff throws pitchers are allowed, as well as more restrictions on pitch clock starts, a number of factors are being introduced that can increase activity on bases. For the Orioles, with two 30-plus stealth players in Mullins and Mateo, the benefits can be especially noticeable.
“Now that we have a quick replay, the game is always playing inches, and it seems like more is being added to the base,” Mullins said. “I think it’s going to open the floodgates in that aspect.”
Large bases should also be safe with potentially less confrontation between players at first base. But if it can be an advantage for Mullins – whose 31 steals lead the American League – he will take it.
In addition, pitchers will be allowed two disengagements with rubber during each plate appearance, limiting them to a combination of two step-off or pickoff attempts. If a pitcher attempts a third pickoff, the runner will automatically advance if the attempt is not successful.
“Once you get to two, then going to three, you may have to take a few more steps to see if they pick up,” said infielder Gunnar Henderson, who has been in the minor leagues this season. Pitch clock and pickoff rules were experienced.
In 2019, there were 2.23 piracy attempts per game in the majors, of which 68% ended on the basis of piracy. With a 77% success rate, this increased to 2.83 steals per game in 2022 with a 77% success rate mlb.com, But even with a pitch watch, Henderson learned the hard way how he couldn’t believe a pitcher would throw home.
In the Double-A Bowie earlier this season, Henderson took a few extra steps towards the seconds, hoping to deliver a swift delivery towards the batsman when the pitch clock ticked. Instead, as time ran out, the pitcher stepped in and picked up Henderson at first base.
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But in all likelihood, pickoff attempts will be used less frequently than other methods of keeping the runner close. Right-hander Dean Kramer said the emphasis would be on changing his timing to home plate, sometimes holding the ball for three seconds, while other times with a slide step to quickly deliver the ball to home plate. Is.
“It’s going to force people to be quick to the plate,” Kramer said. “Being unpredictable in general makes it difficult for that runner to run.”
Added right-hander Tyler Wells, whose 70 pickoff attempts are the ninth-highest in the AL this year: “Mix up times, make sure they don’t get into a rhythm as much as you’re trying to stay in a rhythm. It’s a constant fight between the two, so I think that’s why it’s going to be something that challenges a lot of pitchers.”
Wells used Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Noah Syndergaard as an example, pointing to his slow delivery at the plate as a reason Syndergaard has allowed 30 stolen bases this season, which Largest companies. Without the benefit of multiple pickoff throws, Syndergaard would need to improve on his time at the plate.
“I think you’re really going to start to see a difference in the pitcher’s style,” Wells said. “The lower WHIP pitchers will probably benefit from this. This is purely speculation, but I’d imagine they’d probably have fewer runners at base. So maybe the market valuation changes. It really just depends. I think it’s going to change a lot of things, but I think it’s also going to be really interesting, and I look forward to seeing how that trend pans out. ,
So are Mullins and Matteo, who see the large bases and the short distance between the bags as an invitation to theft – making them a greater threat than ever.
“It’s like a step less,” Mateo said. “Excellent. It’s great for us.”