The Arizona Fall League will, this year, be a test bed for some possible rule changes to speed up the pace of play in baseball. It is, of course, an important issue, and I’m glad to see that already some possible changes will be tested. So, let’s take a look at what we’ve got here:
Batter’s Box Rule: The batter shall keep at least one foot in the batter’s box throughout his at-bat, unless one of a series of established exceptions occurs, in which case the batter may leave the batter’s box but not the dirt area surrounding home plate. (Exceptions include a foul ball or a foul tip; a pitch forcing the batter out of the batter’s box; “time” being requested and granted; a wild pitch or a passed ball; and several others.)
A fine rule to start with. A chunk of the killed time these days is because batters step out to take some practice swings or adjust some equipment after nearly every pitch. So, on the surface, forcing hitters to stay in the box is good. However, there are some possible flaws, mainly in the fact there are a ton of exceptions, with the biggest one being the fact the batter can still call “time”. Yes, sometimes when a batter calls time it is for a good reason, but other times it is just so that they can do the aforementioned practice swings or adjustments. So, ultimately, this rule will only help if umpires cut down on unnecessary calls of “time”, otherwise the problem will remain, just in a different form.
(MORE AFTER THE JUMP)