Looking back at the pace of play in 2015

Clock tickingOn February 20, 2015, MLB announced a series of initiatives aimed at quickening the pace of play in Major League games, the key changes were:

  • Umpires will enforce Rule 6.02(d), which requires hitters to keep one foot in the box during an at-bat, subject to certain exceptions.
  • Timers will be used to ensure that the game resumes promptly at the end of inning breaks.
  • Managers will no longer come out of the dugout to initiate a replay challenge. A manager will also keep his challenge after each call that is overturned. Last year, a challenge was retained only after the first overturned call.

So how did those changes pan out for you? Did you notice if the pace of play sped up? Did the pace of play speed up at all? I can’t say that I noticed if a game was any quicker or not, I did notice the new rule about stepping out of the batters box because the announcers kept harping on it. I also became aware of the clock between innings when I missed a home run because the game resumed before the television was back to the game from its barrage of commercials.

So I decided to dig in to the matter and see what Baseball-Reference could tell me. That is such a great site for research with a lot of great stuff out there but sometimes I just have trouble figuring out how to get what I want. I am an American League fan so I will spend more time looking at AL data then I will at the NL data. Having said that we will take a look at the National League first.

NL in 2015

RANK TEAM AVG GAME TIME GAMES OVER 3 H
1 Marlins 2h 51m 51
2 Nationals 2h 54m 64
3 Braves 2h 55m 65
4* Mets 2h 56m 59
5 Phillies 2h 58m 63
6* Cardinals 3h 00m 74
7 Padres 3h 01m 81
7 Brewers 3h 01m 82
9 Reds 3h 02m 69
9 Giants 3h 02m 78
9* Cubs 3h 02m 88
12* Dodgers 3h 04m 78
13* Pirates 3h 06m 79
13 Rockies 3h 06m 98
15 Diamondsbacks 3h 10m 91

Only five of the twelve NL teams had an average game time of under three hours. If you wanted to take in a quick game you needed to make sure that the Marlins were involved and if you wanted to get more baseball for your buck than you need to make sure that you were watching the Diamondbacks. The difference between the quick pace of Marlins play versus the snail’s pace of the sidewinders from the desert was 19 minutes a game on average.

Comparing AL 2014 to 2015

RANK TEAM 2014 AVG GAME TIME 2014 GAMES > 3H 2015 AVG GAME TIME 2015 GAMES > 3H % IMPROVE IN GAME TIME
1 Blue Jays* 3h 01m 77 2h 53m 65 4.4%
2 Orioles 3h 08m 96 2h 55m 61 6.9%
3 Twins 3h 07m 94 2h 57m 65 5.3%
4 Indians 3h 12m 109 2h 59m 71 6.8%
4 Rays 3h 19m 119 2h 59m 78 10.05%
6 White Sox 3h 08m 95 3h 0m 68 4.3%
6 Angels 3h 15m 69 3h 0m 69 7.7%
6 Royals* 3h 02m 87 3h 0m 70 1.1%
9 A’s 3h 05m 88 3h 01m 71 2.2%
9 Mariners 2h 59m 68 3h 01m 73 -1.1%
11 Astros* 3h 10m 106 3h 03m 84 3.7%
12 Rangers* 3h 07m 97 3h 04m 89 1.6%
13 Red Sox 3h 17m 116 3h 06m 88 5.6%
14 Yankees* 3h 13m 110 3h 08m 92 2.3%
15 Tigers 3h 14m 113 3h 09m 94 2.6%

The Royals won the most games and the A’s lost the most games. The * indicates a playoff team.

Just like in the NL the AL had five teams in 2015 that averaged under 3 hours a game. The fastest pace games on average were played by the Bluejays and they were about two minutes longer than games by the speedy NL Marlins. The slow-paced Tigers had the longest on average games in the AL but they were a minute quicker than the NL Dbacks. The one team that stands out is the Seattle Mariners who are the only AL team to have played longer games on average in 2015 than they did in 2014. The Rays deserve mention for having been the slowest paced team in the AL in 2014 with games averaging 3h 19m with 119 games over 3 hours and in 2015 they took MLB game pace guidelines to heart and cut 20 minutes off an average game and reduced their games of over 3 hours from 119 to just 71.

When you compare averages for 2014 to 2015 for the entire AL the numbers show that in 2014 a game lasted about 3h 9m and teams played an average of 99 games over 3 hours. In 2015 the average game time dropped to 3h 1m and the number of games over 3 hours dropped to 72. The number of games over 3 hours dropped by a little over 27% but the pace of the game only dropped by just over 4%.

What about of you compare the pace of play in the NL to the AL you ask? The two leagues play a different style of baseball but when all the haze faded away both leagues averaged a 3h 1m pace of play.

I think it is ironic that the only sport that doesn’t use a clock is so worried about how long their games take to play.

Just for fun – The Twins Joe Mauer makes $23 million a year. Let’s say he plays 162 games at 3 hours a game, we come up with 486 hours during the season. But let’s say that with workouts and other things he works a total of 8 hours a day for 162 games, that comes out to 1296 hours. Divide $23 million by 1,296 hours and you get an hourly wage of $17,747 an hour. Oh my goodness! I know that is being over simplistic but still…… I like Joe Mauer but this was just too good to pass up.

I am working on a longer term project that will take a historical look at the Minnesota Twins and their game times over the years so stay tuned for that.

 

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