New rules implemented across Minor League Baseball to shorten extra-inning games seem to be working.
Before the season started, Minor League Baseball announced changes to rules to reduce the number of mound visits, the length of extra-inning games and the number of pitchers used in those games.
The biggest rule change was that all levels of MiLB, the batter due up next in the order in a tie game after nine innings automatically begins the extra inning as a runner on second base.
Through July 1 of this season, only eight games have gone more than three extra innings. Compare that to all of 2017 when 162 games went longer than three extra innings and 183 games going past three extras in 2016.
The Express are 3-5 in extra-inning games this season and all eight of them have needed just one extra frame.
Additionally, mound visits by coaches are limited to six per team at the Triple-A level and pitches are given 15 seconds to begin their wind-up to the motion to come tot he set position when there are runners on base and 20 seconds when there are runners on base.
"We believe these changes to extra innings will enhance the fans' enjoyment of the game and will become something that the fans will look forward to on nights where the game is tied late in the contest," Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner said before the season began. "Player safety has been an area of growing concern for our partners at the Major League Baseball level, and the impact that lengthy extra innings games has on pitchers, position players and an entire organization was something that needed to be addressed.”
Of the 475 extra inning games as of July 1 this season, 94 percent have ended in one or two extra frames, compared to 74 percent in 2017 and 71 percent in 2016 and the average game is ending nearly 15 minutes earlier than they were in 2017 and 2016.
League-wide, the longest game this season lasted six innings. In 2017, the longer game was 12 innings and the longest game in 2016 was 14 extra frames.