For the past few years, Major League Baseball has been discussing new ways to speed up professional baseball. Limitations on how long a player can stand outside the batter’s box and requirements on how many innings a pitcher must stay in the game are two ways MLB is working to speed up the game.
Due to an aging fan base, and younger sports fans who are turned off by the slow pace of play, MLB just introduced their most ambitious rule change yet: The one-pitch-per-at-bat rule.
The rule is precisely as it sounds. Each batter gets one pitch per at bat. If the pitch is out of the strike zone, a walk is granted to the batter. If the pitch is inside the strike zone, and the ball is not hit into play, it’s an immediate out.
There was much debate over what to do about foul tips. At first, MLB officials thought it would be best to preserve traditional rules for the foul tip. But, ultimately, they agreed it would streamline the game and drastically speed up game flow if foul tips were automatic outs. So that was the decision.
“The one-pitch-per-at-bat rule should get us down to 30-to-40 minute games,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said when making the announcement. “Looking away for even ten minutes, could mean missing several innings. This exciting change will keep people locked in from start to finish.”
The rule will take effect in the 2021 season.
Correction: It was mentioned in this article that the new rule would make foul tips automatic outs. The actual rule is that batters will get one foul tip per at bat.