Baseball Is Broken (on the field, proposed rule changes, attendance, etc.)

m0ckduck

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Would also open the doors a bit to more offensive catchers that don’t have the same level of finesse as framing would become irrelevant and balls and strikes would be entirely reliant on pitchers.
It's probably career-endangering for a couple of players. Like when the NFL cracked down on violent hits over the middle— a couple guys became obsolete for whom that was the main skill on their resume.
 

Marceline

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It would mean current close plays would be safe. Yes, there would still be close plays but the overall steal rate would improve for runners.
Yes, and that would likely mean more attempted steals (I suspect it would ultimately result in an equilibrium where we'd see more attempts overall at roughly the same success rate, but I'm just speculating).

It would be a good thing for the game if you think more stolen bases is good, though.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I honestly did a double take when I saw the O’s and Pit payroll total when compared to other teams.
View: https://twitter.com/travis_sawchik/status/1505347379767226371?s=21

Like it’s impossible to believe there are individual players in MLB who currently make more than an entire teams payroll
Not that it changes a ton but one of the twitter replies points out that #s does not includebpre-arb players. For the Pirates, that's 18 pre-arb players adds $12.6M.

View: https://twitter.com/BenKaspick/status/1505355056706514946


These are not counting pre-arb players. Not defending these teams at the bottom, but this does misrepresent what payrolls will be. Only eight players are counted in that $22.25M figure for the Pirates, for example. Adding 18 pre-arb players adds $12.6M.
 

Marceline

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It's incredibly profitable to have a shitty team with a bunch of min salary players.

Between national/local TV deals and revenue sharing alone, every team gets a minimum of $200m+ in revenue per year.
 

PC Drunken Friar

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2nd base will be moved in most minor league games in the 2nd half of the year. Will be closer to 1st and 3rd by 13.5 inches. Had not heard of this and it may eventually make it to the majors.

https://theathletic.com/3212654/2022/03/28/why-baseball-is-moving-second-base-and-what-this-experiment-could-mean-for-the-game/

But sources tell The Athletic that in the second half of this season, baseball will be moving second base inward — so it will be closer to first base and third base, by about 13.5 inches.
Not in the big leagues, at least not yet. But this will happen in most ballparks at every level of the minor leagues, as part of sweeping minor-league rule-change experiments that will include pitch clocks, shift limits and robot umps — all of which could be coming to a big-league ballpark near you one of these years. Or not.
The point is that the effective distance between first and second base will shrink by more than a foot. Remember, it was never really 90 feet in the first place. So it will work like this:
“Old” distance — 88 feet, 1.5 inches
“New” distance* — 87 feet
 

Murderer's Crow

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So it's shorter because they're moving it closer to home but I'm curiously trying to grasp at the impact to throwing out runners. This would seem to favor runners who steal regardless, but moving it closer to home would maybe offset that just a little?
 

VORP Speed

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So it's shorter because they're moving it closer to home but I'm curiously trying to grasp at the impact to throwing out runners. This would seem to favor runners who steal regardless, but moving it closer to home would maybe offset that just a little?
Offsets it a bit if you’re stealing 2nd, not if you’re stretching a single into a double or stealing third, etc
 

Murderer's Crow

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Offsets it a bit if you’re stealing 2nd, not if you’re stretching a single into a double or stealing third, etc
Then we could reasonably expect the following, I think.

Compared to today's basepaths, throws from
CF to 2B, delayed
LF to 2B, delayed if throwing from a position close to CF, but likely unchanged or slightly quicker arrival time from normal positions
RF to 2B, delayed if throwing from a position close to CF, but likely unchanged or slightly quicker arrival time from normal positions
3B or 1B to 2B, unchanged but either the SS or 2B covering 2B would need to take an extra step to arrive
From 2B to 1B or 3B, shorter throw but longer arrival to base time
C to 2B, quicker arrival to 2B
P to 2B, quicker arrival to 2B
 

Awesome Fossum

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Wow. I'm all for tinkering with the base size and even the mound location, but the shape of the diamond is pretty intense. Very interested to see how it works.

The Federal League had a second set of foul lines, where past first/third base they added an extra few feet (I think) of fair territory. I wish I could remember the details -- I learned about it from this book:

View: https://www.amazon.com/Outlaw-League-Battle-Forged-Baseball/dp/1589799542/ref=sr_1_3
 

Bozo Texino

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2nd base will be moved in most minor league games in the 2nd half of the year. Will be closer to 1st and 3rd by 13.5 inches. Had not heard of this and it may eventually make it to the majors.

https://theathletic.com/3212654/2022/03/28/why-baseball-is-moving-second-base-and-what-this-experiment-could-mean-for-the-game/
I had no idea that second base was just slightly off until I read this piece. The little diagram makes it plain as day, though.

Weird!
 

simplicio

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What problem does this solve?
A) 2nd base has been centered in the basepath; when 1st and 3rd were moved to tuck into the corners of the basepath it didn't move with them, and this remedies that.
B) it encourages more aggressive baserunning and that's exciting baseball.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I apologize if this has been discussed (likely in this thread if anywhere) but I don't have the time to get into the 11 pages to check... but I think it's high time for the leagues to change to 2 divisions with 6 total games against each team in the same league, other division and a single rotating home/away 3 game series every other year against every team in the other league. I just can't express how boring it becomes playing the MFY's, O's, Rays, Jays so many damn times. It would still keep the divisional matchup/traditional rivalries intact (really we only have a few of those- Sox/Yankees, Cubs/Cardinals, Dodgers/Giants... maybe Mets/Phillies?).
6 teams from each league get into the playoffs. Each division winner gets a bye (buy?). 4 WC teams play best of 5 series to advance.
 

jon abbey

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I apologize if this has been discussed (likely in this thread if anywhere) but I don't have the time to get into the 11 pages to check... but I think it's high time for the leagues to change to 2 divisions with 6 total games against each team in the same league, other division and a single rotating home/away 3 game series every other year against every team in the other league. I just can't express how boring it becomes playing the MFY's, O's, Rays, Jays so many damn times. It would still keep the divisional matchup/traditional rivalries intact (really we only have a few of those- Sox/Yankees, Cubs/Cardinals, Dodgers/Giants... maybe Mets/Phillies?).
6 teams from each league get into the playoffs. Each division winner gets a bye (buy?). 4 WC teams play best of 5 series to advance.
They’re not doing this but as of 2023, teams will play divisional opponents 14 times a year, down from 19.
 

Heating up in the bullpen

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Anybody else read this Op-Ed in the NYT? "Baseball is Dying. The Government Should Take It Over."
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/opinion/baseball-nationalize.html
It's clearly a satirical take, but I'm at a loss to understand what the point of the satire is.
The author presents a lot of "facts" to support his argument, but without sources so it's unclear whether the "facts" are true or made up. And without knowing that, I can't tell if the "baseball is dying" argument is tongue-in-cheek or if the satirical target is something else.
 

jon abbey

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On a rare positive note, PitchCom seems like hopefully a big step in the right direction for the quality of the product, let pitchers worry about throwing better pitches and not constantly changing pitch signs. It of course won't go perfectly right away, I saw one team struggling with it today in a big AB and go back to regular signs, but I think this is potentially a big quality of play thing if it works as expected, so that is one in the positive column.

On the negative side, it sure seems like MLB has been signing lots of new television rights deals since the CBA was finally agreed on. It was a little confusing a few months ago why MLB had started announcing deals for new revenue sources while the negotiations were still going on, but now it seems like they have so many new deals with different services that they had to start announcing them to spread out the announcements a little. That new money will all go to ownership, I believe, until they make the MLBPA beg for something closer to their fair share again in five years. Rinse, repeat...
 

Van Everyman

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Anybody else read this Op-Ed in the NYT? "Baseball is Dying. The Government Should Take It Over."
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/opinion/baseball-nationalize.html
It's clearly a satirical take, but I'm at a loss to understand what the point of the satire is.
The author presents a lot of "facts" to support his argument, but without sources so it's unclear whether the "facts" are true or made up. And without knowing that, I can't tell if the "baseball is dying" argument is tongue-in-cheek or if the satirical target is something else.
That piece is totally bizarre and I have no idea what the point is.
 

jon abbey

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Team president and son of the team owner, which better explains how someone so clueless could land that job.
 

Heating up in the bullpen

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The Gray Eagle

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Really interesting article on the Athletic about how the 3 True Outcomes have all decreased so far this year:
https://theathletic.com/3434355/2022/07/21/mlb-three-true-outcomes/

The Three True Outcomes have been the Space Shuttle of all baseball trends — roaring upward year after year for more than a decade and a half.

And then, whaddayaknow, gravity finally kicked in, here in 2022. It’s the first time all three of those Outcomes — homers, strikeouts and walks — have gone down in the same season in 17 years (since 2005) … which was the only previous season it had happened in the last 30 years.
Offense is down more than it seems from just the overall numbers:
Offense is indeed down, you might have noticed. A couple of things are obscuring how much it’s down, though. As Joe Sheehan pointed out in his newsletter, there’s a rash of position players pitching, and they allow a ridiculous .405/.466/.773 line when they’re pitching. We should probably take them out of the sample. Also, there are no more pitchers hitting! You’d expect that to increase offense, too. The extra innings rules are adding offense.
Walks and homer rates tend to follow each other:


Strikeouts are down, but a big part of it is the spider tack crackdown and the NL DH:
Taking the pitchers (and Spider Tack) out of the equation shows that strikeout rate is actually steady underneath. Still, if the point was to reduce strikeouts, those two efforts were successful in turning back the ever-advancing tide of Ks, all the way back to 2017.
Non-pitchers’ strikeout rate in July through September 2021: 21.9 percent
Non-pitchers’ strikeout rate in 2022: 22.3 percent
Have some hitters started changing their approach this year?
Hitters have begun to understand it’s time to do something different, since big launch angles and barrels haven’t produced the results they used to? At least one AL exec thinks that’s happening:

“I do feel like I’ve seen more hitters pan the field and recognize the shift,” says the exec. “So they shorten their swing to go the other way in certain spots. The game-planning is so good now, I actually think it’s helping hitters adjust. And I think the decline in walks per game speaks to that.

“Right now, there’s more info going to the dugout between innings than I’ve ever known of. So in-game adjustments are happening. And that might be why walks and strikeouts are both down. All the info on pitcher profiles for that night could be helping the hitter.”
Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long also thinks hitters have changed because the deadened ball and mysterious humidor effect have forced them to change. Are they looking to shoot the ball through holes on the other side of the field in a big spot? Here’s why he thinks the hitters are different in 2022:

“Probably because guys are finding out like, listen, it doesn’t matter how hard I hit the ball. It’s not going anywhere. So I’m going to shorten my swing down and I’m going to try to find some more holes. I heard Jeff McNeil say the other day something like, ‘I don’t even care if I hit it 47 miles per hour. I just want to find a hole because it doesn’t do me any good to swing harder, because the ball is not going out.’

“I know with our team, we’re aggressive. I don’t know why the swing rates in general would go up. But maybe because you can cover more (of the strike zone) when you’re not trying to do as much. So if you’re not trying to do as much, you’ve got more bat-to-ball skill, which allows you to expand a little bit.”
Hitters are swinging at more pitches than in recent years. More swinging with total strikeouts actually falling a bit seems like a formula for more action on the field.

Batters are swinging more than they ever have in the pitch-tracking era, at balls and at strikes. But this isn’t going to look significant on a graph, or in a table, because batters are swinging at 47.4 percent of the pitches they see now, up from 45.4 percent in 2008.

That just doesn’t seem like a big deal when you say it like that.

But it probably is! The march upward in swing rates has been steady, increasing a little with every year. The two highest swing rates have come in the last two seasons, and the three highest in the past four seasons. Batters are swinging at 32.3 percent of the pitches they see outside of the zone now, compared to 24.9 percent in 2008.
Summary:
• The deadened baseball increasingly looks like the culprit for the drop in home runs.

• The weather has heated up, but the long-ball rate hasn’t heated up with it — at least not at a pace anywhere near what was expected. So apparently, it’s not all about the humidor.

• The decline in walks? We connected those dots to the decline in homers. Walks rise when pitchers are afraid of what happens when the ball is in the strike zone. And the decline in that fear factor is like the Fourth True Outcome.

• But why are strikeouts down? Exactly why you’d expect them to go down once you remember the big picture: No more Spider Tack. And no more pitchers traipsing toward home plate with a bat!

• And how do the drops in walks and whiffs go together? Turns out hitters are letting it fly now, at rates we haven’t seen in the recent past. And some of them are even learning to flip balls the other way to beat the shift.
It would be extremely aggravating if they change the rules to ban the shift right as hitters finally start to change approach to take advantage of it. If they change the rules next year, hitters will never have to adapt away from the swing-for-the-fences approach. The progress made this year in the reduction of the 3 true outcomes might be washed away if the rules change again.
It looks like some of the changes baseball has made are starting to have the impact they were hoped to, with the spider tack enforcement and NL DH reducing strikeouts. If the small changes outlined here continue, shifting should be reduced/become less effective because more hitters are beating it. The more important rule changes to make IMO are the pitch clock and the robot strike zone.
 

Sad Sam Jones

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It doesn't sound like they're making adjustments because of the shift – they've had years to do that – they are quickly making adjustments because of the deadened baseballs, which was a much newer change. Cutting down on defensive shifts should only help open up more holes in that approach.
 

soxhop411

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QO likely remaining, international draft proposals far apart

View: https://twitter.com/JeffPassan/status/1551374319590178817
thats understating things

View: https://twitter.com/ByJamesWagner/status/1551657444199354372

NEW YORK, July 25 - The Players Association
today rejected what MLB characterized as its
"final" proposal to establish a draft and hard
slotting system for international entrants.
Players made clear from the outset that any
International Draft must meaningfully improve the
status quo for those players and not unfairly
discriminate between those players and domestic
entrants. To this end, the Players Association
made a series of proposals aimed at protecting
and advancing the rights of international
amateurs.
Our Draft proposals
- unprecedented in MLBPA
history
sought to establish minimum guarantees
in player signings, roster spots, infrastructure
investments, playing opportunities, scouting
opportunities, as well as enforcement measures to
combat corruption. We also made proposals to
compensate international signees more fairly and
in line with other amateurs, and to ensure that all
prospects have access to an educational and
player development safety net.
At their core, each of our proposals was focused
on protecting against the scenario that all Players
fear the most - the erosion of our game on the
world stage, with international players becoming
the latest victim in baseball's prioritization of
efficiency over fundamental fairness.
The League's
responses fell well short of anything Players could
consider a fair deal.
 

jon abbey

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It probably wouldn't have mattered but it was insanely poor planning for MLB to set up this schedule:

July 16-18: MLB draft
July 25: arbitrary deadline set in the CBA to agree on an international draft or not
Aug 1: deadline for all draftees to be signed
Aug 2: trading deadline
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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It probably wouldn't have mattered but it was insanely poor planning for MLB to set up this schedule:

July 16-18: MLB draft
July 25: arbitrary deadline set in the CBA to agree on an international draft or not
Aug 1: deadline for all draftees to be signed
Aug 2: trading deadline
It was great planning if they didn’t really want anything to change.
 

InstaFace

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MLB is apparently about to vote on fixing baseball, with the primary goal of closing this thread or getting @jon abbey to rename it. ESPN article:

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34551389/major-league-baseball-competition-committee-vote-rules-changes-friday-eye-quickening-pace-play-sources-say

Specific proposals:

  • A 15-second pitch clock with the bases empty and a 20-second clock with runners on
  • Two disengagements from the rubber -- including pickoff attempts -- per plate appearance
  • A requirement by hitters to be in the batter's box and "alert" with eight seconds to go on the clock. Hitters are allowed one timeout per plate appearance
  • Only two infielders will be allowed on each side of second base, with all four required to be on the dirt (or inner grass)
  • Infielders cannot position themselves on the outfield grass before the pitch is thrown
  • Bases will increase in size from 15 inches squared to 18

(more details in article, obviously)

The ban on the shift feels... moderate. I don't love it, because it feels like the kind of thing you should leave up to the defense on how they want to play, but if the SS is positioned right on the 2B bag and moves a few steps to his left as the pitch is thrown, while the 2B moves back a few steps, it's really not that big an imposition. The only part that I'm unsure about is this note from the article: "Infielders cannot switch positions within an inning unless one of them is replaced." Seems to me that notifying the ump should be sufficient. And, I'm assuming that just means a distinction between an infielder and an outfielder, i.e. that you need to have at least 4 infielders + catcher at all times, and that if the 3B and SS "switch spots", it doesn't matter. But could you bring in an OF as a 5th infielder for "prevent a groundout from scoring a guy on third" situations, and have him play anywhere?

Anyway, I led with that one because I'm 100% on board with everything else, particularly the pitch clocks.

The thing I don't quite get is the "max 2 disengagements by pitcher per PA". I'm not opposed in principle, I just don't quite follow how it'll work. If there's a runner on, and you throw over once, and a few pitches later you try to get him again and fail, the runner now knows you can't attempt another pickoff, at least not without penalty. Right? I immediately wondered: As soon as the pitcher comes set, can the runner then take off, and the pitcher has to deliver to the catcher before an attempt can be made to put the runner out? And that answer is "no", with a "but". Here's the bit on this one in particular from the ESPN article:

Rubber disengagements

Pitchers can step off the rubber twice per plate appearance without penalty, but after a third step-off -- which does not result in a pickoff -- a balk will be called. In other words, a pitcher can throw over to first base up to three times, but the third attempt must lead to an out or the runner gets to advance a base. The disengagement rule resets when a runner gets to a new base. With no runners, a third step-off would result in a mound visit.
OK, so if you've thrown over twice without result, and he takes off next pitch and the pitcher throws over to get in a rundown, maybe he's put out. But if he's not, and he (say) takes second, is he then awarded third on the balk, for not having been put out by the third attempt?

Seems to me the easier thing to do is to exclude situations from penalty where the runner is actually trying to steal a base, as opposed to just taking a lead. If the runner was on first, and the rubber disengagement led to a play or call at second, balk does not apply, and the throw-over count resets. Or something.
 
Last edited:

jayhoz

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Seems like that would lead to a lot of fake steals trying to get the pitcher to step off. Kind of like the offense in football going with a hard count on 3rd and short to draw the defense offsides.

Pass.
 

LogansDad

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1. The pitch clock is awesome. Life changing, really. They use 14/18 in AA right now, but I think 15/20 is a decent compromise. Our games here went from 3:20+ last year to mostly 2:30 or less this season. On top of that, it has made the action more non-stop. If you glance away or get distracted for a moment now, you might actually miss something.

2. I am a big fan of the shift adjustments. I know we have discussed it at length here, but there is so much more in-game action when the line drives that have been getting caught in short right field by a second baseman who is 40 feet on the grass fall in instead. The game is simply more fun when runners are getting on base, and the shift adjustments help accomplish that. The research I have seen has shown that ground balls are largely the same in XBA, but the lines drives have shown a drastic increase. It is a way better adjustment than people think.

3. The step off rule, I get in theory, I just don't know how well it will work in practice (I have not been at a stadium where they have been testing it). I do think that it gives runners a decided advantage, which may actually be what they are going for, and again, more running is more action is more excitement, so if that's what they are trying to do I am willing to see how it plays out.
 

Max Power

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I don't see how anyone (beside David Price) can complain about the pitch clock. I'm very excited about that and might actually attend some Sunday night games again when that's in place.

Taking away the short fielder rewards good contact, which is an improvement. If you smoke a line drive over the infield, it should be a hit.

I'd need to see the step off rule to get the full impact of it. All I know is Ricky didn't need a rule to steal 130.
 

InstaFace

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Having been to a few minor league games with the pitch clock my opinion is it is the bestest thing ever and I love it. Pitchers get the ball and then they throw it. It's great.
This was so different it was legitimately shocking to me, when I watched that recently-unearthed footage of the 1960 WS Game 7. The pitcher appeared eager to throw the next pitch, as if any delay would not accrue to their advantage.

And despite being arguably the most important and exciting game in baseball history, with 5 lead changes and 9 pitchers and a final score of 10-9, the game completed in 2 hours 36 minutes.
 

DJnVa

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OK, so if you've thrown over twice without result, and he takes off next pitch and the pitcher throws over to get in a rundown, maybe he's put out. But if he's not, and he (say) takes second, is he then awarded third on the balk, for not having been put out by the third attempt?
I would assume that means he's awarded second if the pickoff/rundown attempt ends up with him safe back at first.

But it's MLB, who knows?
 

dhappy42

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Oct 27, 2013
15,797
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MLB is apparently about to vote on fixing baseball, with the primary goal of closing this thread or getting @jon abbey to rename it. ESPN article:

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34551389/major-league-baseball-competition-committee-vote-rules-changes-friday-eye-quickening-pace-play-sources-say

Specific proposals:

  • A 15-second pitch clock with the bases empty and a 20-second clock with runners on
  • Two disengagements from the rubber -- including pickoff attempts -- per plate appearance
  • A requirement by hitters to be in the batter's box and "alert" with eight seconds to go on the clock. Hitters are allowed one timeout per plate appearance
  • Only two infielders will be allowed on each side of second base, with all four required to be on the dirt (or inner grass)
  • Infielders cannot position themselves on the outfield grass before the pitch is thrown
  • Bases will increase in size from 15 inches squared to 18

(more details in article, obviously)

The ban on the shift feels... moderate. I don't love it, because it feels like the kind of thing you should leave up to the defense on how they want to play, but if the SS is positioned right on the 2B bag and moves a few steps to his left as the pitch is thrown, while the 2B moves back a few steps, it's really not that big an imposition. The only part that I'm unsure about is this note from the article: "Infielders cannot switch positions within an inning unless one of them is replaced." Seems to me that notifying the ump should be sufficient. And, I'm assuming that just means a distinction between an infielder and an outfielder, i.e. that you need to have at least 4 infielders + catcher at all times, and that if the 3B and SS "switch spots", it doesn't matter. But could you bring in an OF as a 5th infielder for "prevent a groundout from scoring a guy on third" situations, and have him play anywhere?

Anyway, I led with that one because I'm 100% on board with everything else, particularly the pitch clocks.

The thing I don't quite get is the "max 2 disengagements by pitcher per PA". I'm not opposed in principle, I just don't quite follow how it'll work. If there's a runner on, and you throw over once, and a few pitches later you try to get him again and fail, the runner now knows you can't attempt another pickoff, at least not without penalty. Right? I immediately wondered: As soon as the pitcher comes set, can the runner then take off, and the pitcher has to deliver to the catcher before an attempt can be made to put the runner out? And that answer is "no", with a "but". Here's the bit on this one in particular from the ESPN article:



OK, so if you've thrown over twice without result, and he takes off next pitch and the pitcher throws over to get in a rundown, maybe he's put out. But if he's not, and he (say) takes second, is he then awarded third on the balk, for not having been put out by the third attempt?

Seems to me the easier thing to do is to exclude situations from penalty where the runner is actually trying to steal a base, as opposed to just taking a lead. If the runner was on first, and the rubber disengagement led to a play or call at second, balk does not apply, and the throw-over count resets. Or something.
The "two disengagements" rule raises a lot of questions.

What if there are runners on 1st and 3rd? Does the runner on third also advance, i.e. score, if the 3rd-disengagment pick-off attempt to 1B fails? If so, there's no incentive to hold a runner at first after two pick-off attempts when there's also a runner on third.