MLB to test radical extra-inning rule change in Minors, WBC

By Michael Dixon

Lower levels of professional baseball, as well as the upcoming World Baseball Classic, will have a radical rule change. When games reach extra innings, teams will begin their at-bats with a man already on second base. If it works well, the rule could eventually work its way to MLB.

“A derivation of the rule has been used in international baseball for nearly a decade and will be implemented in the World Baseball Classic this spring,” a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports said. “MLB’s desire to test it in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Arizona League this summer is part of an effort to understand its wide in-game consequences – and whether its implementation at higher levels, and even the major leagues, may be warranted.”

It’s certainly an interesting idea. If implemented, it would greatly limit the number of games that go beyond 10 or maybe 11 innings.

A great deal of pressure will be placed on the visiting team in these games. If the visitors fail to score, the home team could win the game without the benefit of a walk, hit, or even error. In some ways, it may be easier on the defense if runners were placed on first and second. With a force out at third, a good bunt would at least be required.

At any rate, it will be interesting to see how this rule plays itself out in the WBC and in rookie leagues. If it ever finds it way to MLB, it would be one of the league’s most radical changes in a long time.