Despite formally being in office for less than a month, new Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has been quick at work. He wrote a letter to the fans outlining some of his goals as commissioner, and proposed changing to a Super-Bowl like bidding process for the MLB All-Star Game.
Also expected to change under Manfred’s watch are pace-of-play rules in an attempt to accelerate the speed at which games are played. While implementing pitch clocks and instituting new baserunning rules have garnered plenty of attention, a new change may have a larger impact on baseball.
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, MLB will consider changing the size of the strike zone as early as the 2016 season:
Major League Baseball is considering altering the textbook definition of the strike zone for the first time in nearly two decades, fearful that the proliferation of the low strike has sapped too much offense from the game, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The MLB Playing Rules Committee, which must approve any change made to the MLB rulebook, is expected to keep a watchful eye on the strike zone this season and how it affects the amount of runs scored per game.
Whether or not the strike zone should be completely blamed is debatable, but stats reveal the average runs scored per game has declined every year since 2006. The 4.07 runs per game in 2014 is the lowest scoring average in MLB since 1981.
The fact that, best case scenario, this change could increase scoring by a fraction of one run makes it seem like a small change. But considering the decline in baseball viewership in recent years, along with the increased interest in the NFL and NBA — two leagues on the vanguard of change to appease fans — it could be beginning of something bigger.
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