Tuesday, July 16, 2024

MLB lockout: Why MLB, MLBPA want to make bases bigger

Major League Baseball’s lockout is still dragging on as the two sides negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. However, there are a few rule changes in the next CBA that have already been agreed upon by both sides.

On Sunday, the MLB Players Association made a proposal that permitted the league to make three changes: ban the defensive shift, install a pitch clock and have larger bases, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

Banning the shift and installing a pitch clock are easily understandable. The league and players want to increase the action on the field by taking away the shift (and increasing hits) and making pitchers move quicker.

Having larger bases is a little bit more of an in-depth decision. 

Why should the bases be bigger?

First and foremost, MLB believes making the bases bigger will lead to less injuries on the basepaths. It’s a logical argument: the bigger the base, the more space runners will have to slide around defenders. Therefore, the league is hoping there will be less collisions between runners and defenders. MLB also hopes the bigger bases will lead to an increase in stolen bases.

How much bigger will the bases get?

MLB initially brought the topic of increasing the bases up in 2021. It led to the league approving and testing out larger bases in Triple-A games. “The size of first, second and third base will all be increased from 15 inches square to 18 inches square,” Yahoo Sports reported last year.

Why bigger bases may solve an aggravating part of games 

There is (almost) nothing worse in an MLB game than having a player beat the ball to a bag, but overslide and get tagged out. As a report from the New York Post in 2021 pointed out, bigger bases will likely solve that issue:

From the New York Post:

“Wouldn’t it be great if that play ceased to exist? While full eradication might prove too ambitious, a bigger base surely would help.

‘The current base, if you don’t hit the front of it and stop, you’re going through it,’ Chris Marinak, MLB’s chief operations and strategy officer, told The Post… ‘And this base is a little more forgiving in the sense that, if you hit the front of it, hopefully there’s more catch on the base. You can actually stop on the bag without popping off. Certainly that’s one of the ideas behind it.'”

This base size change is certainly one that would, on paper at least, improve the game. It would allow some of the game’s top prospects to be more comfortable playing in the majors once they get called up — especially since Triple-A ball has already adopted the change. It also may allow for the game to be safer in the long run, which is always a top priority for both the players’ union and team owners.

Now if only the MLB and MLBPA can agree on a new CBA and we could see the rule change take place in games this year…

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