2023 SABR Analytics: Watch highlights from Rules Changes Panel

At the SABR Analytics Conference on Friday, March 10, 2023, in Phoenix, Arizona, a panel discussion was held on baseball’s rules changes for the upcoming 2023 season.

Panelists included former major-leaguers Dallas Braden of NBC Bay Area and Bobby Scales II of Sports Info Solutions, and Kyle Glaser of Baseball America. The panel was moderated by Rob Mains of Baseball Prospectus.

Here are some highlights from the panel:

On the historical impact of this season’s rule changes

  • Mains: “I’m personally looking forward to this season because I think that we are seeing the most momentous package of changes to the rules of baseball in 50 years since we got the DH in the AL or in 1969 when we split the MLB into divisions.”

Former major-league pitcher Dallas Braden at the 2023 SABR Analytics Conference on March 11, 2023, in Phoenix, Arizona.

On how the pitch clock will affect pitchers

  • Braden: “(Major league pitchers) are elite-level movers. There are guys at the beginning of the bullpen they may not know how to throw a certain pitch and by the end, they may feel confident enough to take that pitch out with them into a game and get outs. They are elite adjusters; there is not going to be an issue at all in my opinion. And talking to the veterans, they understand that now it’s about getting it and throwing it a little quicker.”
  • Glaser: “I don’t think we will see much of an issue. One of the things to keep in mind is there has been a different version of the pitch clock in the minor leagues … so you have a pretty sustainable set of guys that will come up who have some familiarity with the pitch clock at some level.”

On how late-game antics or injuries may affect the pitch clock

  • Scales: “There are going to be little things the brotherhood (of MLB players) understands about each other and the game will be played at the appropriate pace. The game will be faster than we’ve seen before, but it will be played at the appropriate pace and I think that’s the correct way to go about it.”

On how the pitch clock will affect batting routines

  • Scales: “It’s really easy to re-train that (routines). … We just train them differently so instead of walking down and adjusting your batting gloves and looking at the foul pole as my reset, I am going to do that sooner or do it quicker and create a new routine almost like shooting a free throw.”

2023 SABR Analytics Conference: Bobby Scales II and Kyle Glaser

On the rule changes affecting baserunning

  • Glaser: “Everything is going to go up again (with stolen bases). Based on what we saw in the minors, it was on average one additional steal attempt every other game. … Success rates jumped up from 68% to 77% and within major-league front offices, there was this idea that 75% was this magic number, if we can’t be successful 75% of the time, it doesn’t make sense to steal. But now with the number being at 77%, its going to start making sense to run.”

On how the pitch clock will affect which types of pitches are thrown

  • Braden: “To put a bow on how it (pitch clock) affects pitching as well, I could also see this turning pitchers into fastball salesmen. I’m going to have to give you the heater because now I am limited and I don’t need you on second (base) and I got to give you the fastball. So now you start talking about a lineup with guys on base learning how to manipulate sequencing, buying yourselves fastballs.”

Transcription assistance from Michael Bosque.

For more coverage of the 2023 SABR Analytics Conference, visit SABR.org/analytics.

Originally published: May 1, 2023. Last Updated: March 22, 2023.