Detailed view of an electronic pitch/pace of play clock in use during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

McLaughlin Campaigns for Bigger Strike Zone, Pitch Clock in MLB

The Cardinals broadcaster has been watching some Arizona Fall League action and believes a few changes could improve the game.

November 20, 2018 - 9:25 pm

Major League Baseball decided not to add a pitch timer or pitch clock in 2018, but there is likely going to be more discussion about adding it in 2019.

The average MLB game was four minutes less in 2018, compared to the previous year (3 hours and 4 minutes in 2018). That's partially thanks to the limiting of mound visits to six per team through nine innings, a two-minute cap on all video reviews and doing away with making a pitcher throw four balls for an intentional walk. But could more changes be on the way next season? 

St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster Dan McLaughlin says he likes what he's seen at the Arizona Fall League, which uses a 20-second pitch clock. Meaning if a pitcher doesn't throw the ball before the clock strikes zero, the pitch is called a ball. And on the flip side, if the batter wasn't in the box inside the time limit, the pitch would be called a strike – and in some cases of stepping out of the box, the player could be fined. 

"I did see initially when it was enforeced that the pace of the play was better," McLaughlin says. "And I do think there's something too that."

Now something like this could speed up the game, but what about making baseball more exciting and limiting the "true outcomes" of either a home run, strikeout or walk in so many at bats? 

"I think, and this is my opinion and I've talked to some who agree with me and some who do not, and these are people that are in uniform, I would like to see the strikezone bigger," McLaughlin says. "And I think that if you put a premium on the fact that the player at the plate has to feel that there is a wider strikezone and you've got to put the ball in play then you'd have more action."

Both the ideas of a bigger strikezone and pitch clock will be debated by MLB and the MLB Players Union this winter – you'll hear about it during next month's Winter Meetings. 

"And I think the players adjust, I always believe the players adjust," McLaughlin says. "If you watch in a Major League game, if a strikezone is wide the players adjust to the particular umpirse strikezone. Even from pitch to pitch."

You can hear more from McLaughlin when he was a guest on last week's Sports on a Sunday Morning, with KMOX's Mike Kelly, here