April Madness: Opening Weekend
Wow, what an interesting time in baseball! Early interest seems up, game times are way down and everybody’s scurrying to figure out what all of it means. Although, look, we’re only four days into the season, so we don’t even know anything yet.
But when has that stopped us before? As part of our April Madness, let’s go around baseball, and begin with a look at how the new rules are changing the game in real-time.
But before we do that, I’d just like to remind everyone that you can now preorder my book, WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL, pretty much wherever books are sold. And if you preorder from our good friends at Rainy Day Books, I will inscribe the book with anything you like, up to 130 characters! What a deal!
On with the show…
The new rules good news
Time of game is WAY down (and pace of play is WAY up):
On Sunday, only one game — the White Sox and Astros — lasted three hours. That’s just stunning. The average time of game on Sunday was 2 hours and 36 minutes, and for the season, it’s 2 hours and 40 minutes. SEVENTY-FIVE percent of games are going less than three hours. We have not had a four-hour game yet, or really anything close. The longest game of the season so far is the Blue Jays’ 10-9 victory over the Cardinals on Opening Day — it went three hours and 38 minutes, but there was also a delay in there.
As far as the speed of the game, the clock is probably working even better than Rob Manfred and Theo Epstein and the rest had hoped.
Balls in play are turning into hits more often
Obviously it’s too early to make any definitive conclusions, but batting average on balls in play is .301, the highest it has been since 2007. Considering that it’s April and the weather isn’t great and pitchers tend to start seasons ahead of the hitters (the league BABIP in April last year was a death-defying .282), it’s a pretty good sign that the banning of the shift is having a real effect.
Stolen bases are way up
There have been 70 stolen bases in just 50 games, that’s up 37% from last year. And the stolen base percentage is mind-boggling
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