After MLB and MLBPA reaching a new agreement that will last until 2026, we are going to see more rule changes within the game. Here are the 4 notable changes that will be in effect in 2022 season.
Universal and Amended Designated Hitter
There is no need for pitchers to stand at the batter’s box when they play at National League team’s soil as MLB has implemented the universal designated hitter rule. We will miss some of the greatest swings that have caught us off guard time to time. There will be more runs to be scored as well as the walk ratio to be decreased in the National League.
There is another rule that is called “Amended Designated Hitter”, which was created to give more flexibility to players like the last season’s American League MVP Shohei Ohtani. To simply put this into a picture. Here is how the new rule 5.11 works.
On May 11, 2021, Ohtani — who batted the second as a starting pitcher — later moved to the right field to continue to hit. Therefore, Taylor Ward was replaced by the relief pitchers. This won’t be the case this year. The following (photoshopped) lineup card will be what it would look like.
As shown in the adjusted lineup, managers are required to name the 10th player as the DH if a player wants to be a both starting pitcher and a batter in the starting lineup. So under this new rule, Ohtani could have just moved to DH and Ward did not need to be replaced by the relief pitchers.
Here is a couple of things to remember when using this new rule.
- If the designated hitter is replaced, he can still continue as a pitcher. But can no longer bat for himself
- If the player is simultaneously replaced both as a starting pitcher and the designated hitter, he cannot be replaced by another two-way player as this can be only done once prior to the game. Hypothetically, Shohei Ohtani cannot be replaced by Brendan McKay as a two-way player at the All-Star game
12-team postseason format
There will be a total of 12 teams that will make it to the playoffs starting 2022. This is how it works.
- There will neither 163th game nor sudden death Wild Card games if two teams or more are tied. This will be decided through NFL-type tie breaking procedures
- The two teams with the best record in each league gets a bye to the Division Series
- 3rd best team will host and play the team with the lowest winning percentage, 6th team and the 4th team will host the 5th team in a 3-game series, also known as Division Series
As a Mariners fan, I am feeling ambivalent about this change. Having an extra two spots for the playoffs is a great opportunity to end the 21-year playoff drought for the Mariners. However, if Mariners make it to the playoff as the either 5th or 6th team, it is hard not to deem this as a sympathetic spot.
The sudden death Wild Card game will be greatly be missed as picking the starting pitchers along with who to put in the lineup was always a high-stakes move for managers.
Automatic Runner on Second in Extra Inning
Despite MLB made a statement that the automatic runner on the second in extra innings — which was created to shorten the game as a way to prevent players from getting the COVID — won’t come back in 2022, they had changed their mind and it has been restored in 2022 season.
Here is the overview of automatic runner system using the Marlins lineup on April 30, 2021 step by step.
- It was a Nationals home game and Marlins had the first automatic runner of the game in top of the 10th inning
- Despite Díaz grounding into a double play in the previous inning, he was to be the automatic runner on the second base because it is Folor‘s turn to bat (the universal DH was in effect yet) and the previous batter is automatically placed on the second base
- Most of the time, teams would try to gain the lead by stealing a third base and a sacrifice fly. Therefore, Diaz was replaced by Devers whose goal is to either score on a base hit or steal a third base, and Floro was replaced by a pinch hitter, Harrison, who later moved to the center field as Marlins failed to score
Personally, this takes out the excitement of the extra innings as the team with a faster pinch runner and a batter that executes a sacrifice fly better than the other will likely to take the lead and win the game. Hopefully, they remove this in 2023 season.
After the new agreement of 26-man roster — which was supposed to be in effect from the opening day through August 31 — last season, the new 28-man roster has been approved through May 1. The move was made to compensate the shortened spring training due to the lockout.
Teams now can carry two extra players until May 1 and they are allowed to have a maximum of 15 pitchers if they want by exceeding the limit of 13 pitchers. This has allowed some teams to make unconventional, early-promotion, and flexible moves. A couple of cases are…
- A 21-year old, highly touted prospect, Julio Rodríguez has made it to the big league
- Despite allowing 3 home runs in the springing training, Maryland native Bruce Zimmermann has joined Baltimore’s rotation
What happens after May 1? They will go back to the 26-man roster, which is to be carried through August 31. And from September 1 to the end of the regular season, every team will have the 28-man roster back with a limit of 14 pitchers.
The Final Verdict
Overall, I am happy with most of the changes except the automatic runner on the second in extra innings. Based on the Commissioner Rob Manfred, there are more impending changes to come in 2023 such as a pitch clock, banning the shift, larger bases and possibly the robotic umpires as well to deal with the long-standing controversial strike calls. The game of baseball has started to look a different and fast-paced.