Major League Baseball has proposed changes to intentional walks and the strike zone, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark.
The proposals have been sent over to the MLB Player’s Association, who has to sign off on any rule changes.
The intentional walk proposal is aimed at improving pace of play. If it went through, pitchers would no longer be required to toss four pitches outside the strike zone in order to issue the intentional walk. Rather, the team would simply signal that they wanted to issue the intentional walk, and the batter would be sent to first base.
There were 932 intentional walks last season, and eliminating the physical act of throwing the four pitches would only shave off about a minute of game time. The effect would be minimal, but it would still show that efficiency is the top priority.
The change in the strike zone could be more impactful, however. The proposal would raise the lower part of the zone to top of the batter’s knees. For the past 21 years, the zone has stretched down to the bottom of the knee. This rule change is designed to put more balls in play, create more action, and ultimately speed up the game.
It is uncertain how the MLBPA will respond to the proposals.
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