Once again, Major League Baseball is talking about pace of play. They don’t refer to this as time of game, which was up in 2017 and the longest we’ve ever seen. But MLB wants more on-field action and wants it to happen it seems, in a more timely fashion.
But let’s talk time of game for a moment. In 2015 - the first year of new pace of play rules - the average time of game was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That went up to 3 hours in 2016 and to 3 hours, 6 minutes last season. In the 2017 postseason, the average time of game was 3 hours, 29 minutes. But as some of the postseason games proved, if the game is great and the drama level is high, we’ll watch - no matter the time of game.
There is a discussion about implementing a 20-second pitch clock and limiting the number of mound visits by players and coaches in 2018. How about making batters stay in the batter’s box and not step out so often? How about working on ways to speed up the process of getting a relief pitcher into the game and ready to pitch? Fans always bring up limiting the commercials, but the broadcast companies that pay such large rights fees will always need to get some of that money back.
Each time this discussion comes up, the conversation invariably turns to whether this is even a problem that baseball needs to address. It takes time to play nine innings and one of the great things about the sport is that you need to get 27 outs to win. You can’t run out the clock or take a knee to end it. And even if MLB officials make changes that enhance pace of play and reduce time of games, will it make enough of a difference to provide positive and long-lasting change?
Is some of this directed at teenaged fans with short attention spans that have been raised in a video game and Twitter world? Can MLB even hold on to these fans or create more fans from this demographic?
Whether we like it or not, or think it needs to be addressed or not, pace of play and time of game are once again topics in MLB.
Wrapping up the AFL: Here are the final stats on the Orioles players that competed for Salt River in the Arizona Fall League. That team finished 13-15-2. Today, Mesa and Peoria will meet in the AFL championship game.
Lefty Keegan Akin went 1-1 with a 2.76 ERA over nine games. In 16 1/3 innings, he allowed 10 hits and five runs with five walks to 13 strikeouts. Lefty batters hit .160 and right-handed hitters .176 off Akin. He gave up three runs his last two games as his ERA rose from 1.46 at that point.
Lefty Tanner Scott went 0-2 with an ERA of 12.54 over five games. In 9 1/3 innings, he allowed 11 hits and 14 runs (13 earned) with 11 walks, seven strikeouts and a .297 average against.
Lefty Luis Gonzalez went 2-0 with an ERA of 0.00 in nine games. In 9 2/3 innings, he allowed five hits and one unearned run. He walked two and fanned six. Lefty batters went just 1-for-13 against Gonzalez.
Right-hander Jesus Liranzo pitched four games and 4 2/3 innings before he was shut down with minor shoulder soreness. Liranzo allowed seven hits and six runs with six walks and three strikeouts.
Ryan Meisinger replaced Liranzo on the Salt River roster and the right-hander pitched in four games and did very well. Over six innings, he gave up one hit and two unearned runs. He had no walks or strikeouts and AFL batters went just 1-for-18 against him.
Infielder Ryan Mountcastle played in 21 games and hit .244 with four doubles, three homers and 14 RBIs. He ended his play in the AFL on an eight-game hitting streak.
Outfielder Anthony Santander played in 18 games, batting .208 with one homer and 15 RBIs. He hit .350 (7-for-20) with runners in scoring position.
Infielder Steve Wilkerson played in 23 games, batting .317 with three doubles, five triples, one homer and 10 RBIs. He had an OPS of .908.
Wilkerson and Gonzalez could be among those added to the 40-man roster on Monday. That is the last day to add players to the 40-man to make them ineligible to be selected by another club at the Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings.