Pace of play is an issue concerning college baseball and professional baseball regarding the length of games.

Game length in Major League Baseball (MLB) began increasing, with the 1988 New York Yankees being the first team to average over three hours per game.[1] From 2004 through 2014, MLB games had increased from an average of 2.85 hours to 3.13 hours.[2] This was in spite of decreases in scoring, with MLB teams scoring 4.1 runs per game in 2014, down from 5.14 in 2000.[1]

In college baseball, the Southeastern Conference experimented with a 20-second pitch clock during the 2010 season,[3] and the National Collegiate Athletic Association instituted the pitch clock before the 2011 season for when no runners are on base.[4] During the 2014 season, the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball instituted its own changes. These included using a 12-second pitch clock, reducing timeouts and warm-up pitches, and making intentional walks automatic by signalling the umpire, rather than throwing four intentional balls.[5] The Arizona Fall League began using a pitch clock in 2014 and the Double-A and Triple-A levels of Minor League Baseball followed suit in 2015.[6] Those levels saw a 12-minute reduction in game times.[7]

Towards the end of the 2014 season, Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig announced the formation of a committee to examine the issue. John Schuerholz chaired the committee, which also included Sandy Alderson, Tony Clark, Rob Manfred, Joe Torre, and Tom Werner.[8] Manfred, having succeeded Selig as the Commissioner in 2015, instituted rule changes to MLB before the start of the 2015 MLB season to address pace of play, including having batters remain in the batters box and the installation of time clocks to limit the time spent around commercial breaks.[9] In 2015, MLB had a committee discuss bringing back the bullpen car.[10][11]

Prior to the 2017 MLB season, the rules were amended to allow a manager to order an automatic intentional walk.[12] MLB and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) discussed the possibility of introducing the pitch clock at the major league level for the 2018 season.[13] MLB opted against imposing it unilaterally, over the opposition of the MLBPA.[14] Before the 2018 season, MiLB took major actions, including adding pitch clocks at all levels, beginning each extra inning with a runner on second base, and restricting the number of mound visits for full-season Class A through Triple-A teams.[15] Also, the Arizona Diamondbacks of MLB announced they would introduce their first bullpen car in 2018.[16] Minor League Baseball expanded its pace of play initiatives in 2019 by requiring Double-A and Triple-A pitchers to face a minimum of three consecutive batters unless the side is retired or the pitcher becomes injured and is unable to continue playing.[17] Also, the number of allowed mound visits was reduced: Class A (9 visits), Double-A (7 visits), and Triple-A (5 visits).[17]

As an experimental step to accelerate pace of play, MLB implemented 20-second pitch clocks during spring training games in 2019. [18]


  1. ^ a b Perry, Dayn (August 27, 2014). "CHART: The rise of the three-hour baseball game". Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  2. ^ "Why are baseball games getting so much longer? | For The Win". September 30, 2014. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  3. ^ "Pitch clock for baseball? Experiment begins in SEC". USATODAY.COM. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  4. ^ "NCAA rules for college baseball are designed to speed up the game". March 7, 2011. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  5. ^ "How can MLB improve pace of play? One league has a solution".
  6. ^ "Pitch clock for Double-A, Triple-A use". ESPN. January 15, 2015. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  7. ^ "Minor League Baseball Toolshed: Pitch clocks do their job in debut season - News - The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  8. ^ "MLB creates committee to improve pace of games | For The Win". September 22, 2014. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  9. ^ "Rob Manfred thinks inside the box to speed up MLB games". KSDK. February 20, 2015. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
  10. ^ Crasnick, Jerry (March 31, 2015). "Time to bring back bullpen carts?". Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  11. ^ Anderson, R.J. (February 2, 2018). "MLB is reportedly considering bringing back bullpen carts to improve pace of play: Bullpen carts are viewed as a potential answer to the pace of play problem". CBS Sports. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  12. ^ Rafferty, Scott (February 22, 2017). "Major League Baseball Eliminates One of Its Most Annoying Rules". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  13. ^ Castrovince, Anthony (January 20, 2016). "Opinions differ on MLB pitch clock". Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  14. ^ USA TODAY Sports (February 19, 2018). "MLB pace of play: No pitch clock in 2018, but mound visits limited". Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  15. ^ THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (March 14, 2018). "Minor League Baseball Expands Pace-of-Play Rules - The New York Times". Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  16. ^ Rovell, Darren (March 6, 2018). "Golf cart to bring in relief pitchers is reborn with Diamondbacks". Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  17. ^ a b "MiLB announces pace-of-play rules for 2019". March 29, 2019. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
  18. ^ Glaser, Kyle (February 22, 2019). "MLB Announces 20-Second Pitch Clock For Spring Training Games". Retrieved November 7, 2019.