As most fans know the average length of a Major League Baseball game is right around three hours. Three hours are generally blocked off for television and radio coverage. When you go to attend a game fans generally expect it to be three hours plus the time to get into and out of the stadium.
In 2014 the average game time was 3:02. This year, so far, that average has come down very noticeably. Currently, the average length of games has been 2:53. That is nearly nine minutes less time on average per game.
In the month of May this average is even lower, clocking in at an average game time of 2:52. If May's average were to persist and the season-long average length of game finished at 2:52, it would mark the single largest decrease in average game between two seasons since 1963 when the average shrunk by nine minutes.
So what exactly has Major League Baseball done to cut down on the length of games that's different this year from the 2014 season?
MLB introduced three pace-of-game rules which have had the biggest effect. The first of these rules requires that the batter must keep one foot in the batter's box between pitches. There are obviously exceptions to this, you'll see a batter leave the batter's box to move around if they foul a ball into their body or other similar exceptions. Barring those though, the batter is no longer allowed to repeatedly step out of the box to practice their swing or blow bubbles.
This rule has helped to bring down the average length of time between pitches by almost one second. With one second less per pitch in game that will generally feature 250-300 pitches, that means that roughly four to five minutes are saved per game just on time between pitches.
One of the new rules allows managers to challenge calls from inside the dugout, saving the time it takes to head out onto the field to challenge. The other is a rule that requires the game to be resumed promptly at the end of the half inning. In the case of most games this means there is a two minute and twenty-five second timer from the end of the half-inning to the start of the next which pitchers are strongly encouraged to be ready to throw the first pitch of the half-inning.
While these pace-of-game rules were met with some speculation and resistance, especially in the case of the foot in the batter's box rule, they have helped to cut down on average game time by nine minutes this year. With 162 games in the season averaging nine minutes fewer that means we stand to save 24 hours and 18 minutes of time this year, and that's just during the regular season.
Think of it like a baseball leap year.
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