The 2020 MLB season is already being cut down to nearly a third of its normal length, with an abbreviated spring training reboot starting in early July, so it makes sense to change a few rules. The first of those is the use of the DH in the National League, which is actually part of the health and safety measures for pitchers. While an agreement between the players and league would have seen the universal DH continue next season, that is not the case for the time being.
But if you thought the idea of not watching bad hitters take at-bats was enough to get purists riled up, good luck getting them to unclutch their pearls when they find out that MLB wants to start a runner on second base in extra innings. This has been discussed before had has already been implemented in the minors, so it’s not completely novel. Given the sprint of a season, the league wants to take steps to limit marathon games.
Also this year the MLB plan is to use the Minor League rule with the runner on second to expedite extra-inning games ending, since the spring will be short, the schedule will be tight and there’s a desire to avoid 15-inning games and longer.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 23, 2020
Like the DH, this would be a temporary measure for 2020 and would not be extended into next season unless both the league and union agreed to it. Even if they go back to standard rules in 2021, however, I see the runner in extras as nearly as much a given as the DH. And you know what? I don’t hate it.
For those who aren’t familiar, the new wrinkle would start the batter one spot ahead of the leadoff hitter on second base in each extra inning. The idea, of course, is that more runs will be scored and games will be decided more quickly. It’s kind of like college football’s overtime rules in a way.
As I wrote when looking at a structure for the expanded playoff structure, I’m all for leaning into the chaos of the season and just getting wacky. Who knows, maybe even some of you who are opposed to such shenanigans right now will grow to enjoy them once you see them in play.