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Rules changes for 2007, the revenge of Jae Seo!
2007-02-16 17:33
by Bob Timmermann

You can read about them in this press release from MLB. It's the first major rules change since 1996.

Here are the major changes:

  • Official games that are tied when stopped by weather will now be suspended, not replayed in their entirety, unless the two teams have no remaining games against each other and a playoff berth is at stake. Games could be resumed at the visiting team's stadium if need be. This could be the last time game for a while. And Hideki Matsui may be the last player to play in 163 regular season games in one seaosn without benefit of a tiebreaker playoff. He did so in 2003 thanks to a tie game between the Yankees and Orioles on September 18, 2003.

  • Pitchers found to be applying a foreign substance to the ball or to their hands will be immediately ejected and given a 10-game suspension. The umpires used to have discretion to just award a ball to the batter first and warn the pitcher.
  • Pitchers can now wear multi-colored gloves.
  • Batters who refuse to take their place in the box will automatically be assessed a strike. Before the pitcher had to at least throw the ball for the strike to be called.
  • The minor leagues have several time-shortening rules (batters aren't allowed to step too far away from the box for the most part.)
  • Fielders may not stand in the dugout while making a catch. They can still reach over and fall in.
  • The rule about running in the three-foot lane was clarified (Chuck Knoblauch says "About time!"). The batter-runner is allowed to make one stride right before getting to first base that is out of the lane. If you notice on a diamond, the three foot lane does not lead to first base!
  • If the batter leaves the dirt circle around home plate after the catcher fails to catch a third strike, he will be declared out. Before this, the batter was only declared out if he went all the way to the dugout.
  • Runners will be granted one base if the catcher deliberately touches a pitched ball with his mask or other part of his uniform detached from its proper place. Earlier this was ruled as a two-base error and you had to stretch the wording of the rule.
  • The definition of the "windup" position was tweaked to reflect reality. The same was true of the "stretch" or "set" position.
  • If there is no one on base, pitchers will have 12 seconds to deliver a pitch. The count starts once the pitcher has the ball and the batter is ready. I'm awaiting the first time that this rule is enforced.
  • If a situation like Game 4 of the 1999 NLCS arises, teams will be given credit for as many runs that crossed the plate before the batter was called out for passing a runner., and there are two outs, the winning run will count only if the lead runner crosses home plater before a preceding runner passes the batter-runner.

There were also changes to the scoring rules which I won't get into except to say that the requirement that a pitcher who pitches three or more innings to finish a game no longer has to be deemed "effective" to be credited with a save. I believe this is a direct result of my campaign to get Jae Seo a save for this game.

It's too late for Jae Seo now. But I will celebrate my triumph tonight by adding chocolate to milk!

The text of the changes to the scoring rules haven't been released yet as far as I can tell. But here's what I can piece together.

  • On sacrifice bunt attempts, the batter will get credit for a hit if in the opinion of the scorer "ordinary effort" would not have retired him or a lead runner. The previous standard was "perfect play."
  • Official scorers have been told to take into account the entire game situation before deciding to rule a stolen base as "defensive indifference." Apparently, it was thought that defensive indifference was ruled too often.
  • There is new wording on how determine the "most effective" relief pitcher to award a win to when the starter doesn't go five innings. But I can't find the wording. Presently, there isn't any advice.
  • There will also be further clarification on the meaning of "brief and ineffective" for relief pitchers when awarding wins. I'm guessing that there will be a few less vultured wins in 2007.
  • A relief pitcher must pitch at least 1/3 of an inning to get a save. Why is this so? In theory (and I believe it might have happened once), a pitcher could come into a game in a save situation, be announced, warm up, get credit for a appearance, but then have rain call off the game. By rule, the save goes to the pitcher who finished the game. Even if that pitcher didn't throw a pitch. However, it appears that in the instance this happened once, the official scorer did not grant a save.
  • As mentioned earlier, if a pitcher finishes a game his team wins and pitches three innings or more, there is no requirement that the pitcher be "effective."
  • There was a technical change to the way earned runs are determined if catcher's interference occurs.
  • There were time limits imposed on requests for changes to the official scorer's ruling. The scorer has 24 hours to review calls as do the teams. If a player or team requests a change, they have two business days to send the Commissioner supporting evidence. And the Commissioner can order the official scorer to make the change over the scorer's objection. And the leagues can charge administrative fees if the changes aren't made.
  • Wild pitches and passed balls will not be charged if the defense makes an out before the runners advance.
  • Language is being changed on the definition of errors and it looks like "mental mistakes" will be charged as errors in certain situations. Also a fielder will get an error if an accurate throw hits a base and caroms away.
  • Rules regarding adding plate appearances for individual batting championships were tweaked, although I don't know how. The minimum innnigs for pitching championships were tweaked a bit.
  • Batters will not be credited with a GIDP if the lead runner is called out for interference.
  • "Caught stealing, not charged if batter would not have earned a stolen base if safe." I have gone over this several times and I still can't figure out what it means. I'm hoping it's a typo.
  • There is some difference to the way games played are credited. I don't have the words, but I wonder if players announced as pinch hitters and then pinch hit for will no longer get credit for a game played.
  • The league leader in OBP will have the same minimum qualifications as BA and SLG.
  • Minor leaguers will now officially have to meet a standard of 2.7 PA/game to qualify for a league batting title. It was just a comment before.
  • Rounding up fractional innings pitched was explicitly banned for the purposes of making someone eligible for the ERA title. If a pitcher throws 161 2/3 IP, that's not enough.
  • Appeal plays will be scored a little differently, but I don't know how so.
  • The names of individual players who were CS or had GIDP will not appear in official box scores. They will just be in the summary data.
  • The times of games will be computed differently. Not sure how. It could be that their will be a stopwatch method. Right now, the official scorers look at the clock at the time of the first pitch and then subtract from the time when the last out is recorded. But if you are at the end of one minute when the game starts and the beginning of another when the game ends, you could get the wrong time.
  • Attendance will now be part of the official scoresheet.
  • RBI, base hit, putout, assist, error, passed bal, and chances will have expanded definitions.
  • New language regarding how to score a 9-0 forfeit was added.
  • Tagging the base with the glove is now officially considered one of the ways to record a putout.
  • If you have a batting streak of some kind, it can be extended if you reach base on obstruction in your only time up. The only event in which you don't get credit for an AB, but still can have a streak end is on a sacrifice fly.
  • Catchers will get automatic putouts anytime a runner on third refuses to walk home when forced to score a run, not just in the case of it being the winning run.

    Once I find the full text of these changes, I'll get back to you with more gruesome details!

2007-02-16 18:08:36
1.   Andrew Shimmin
Congratulations! Mighty is the Griddle.
2007-02-16 18:36:32
2.   Vishal
why are we so happy about the save rule?
2007-02-16 18:45:58
3.   dianagramr
All saves are not created equal ....


2007-02-16 18:58:42
4.   Bob Timmermann
If you have to ask, you don't know me very well.

You were there! You saw the greatest miscarriage of justice since Plessy v. Ferguson or maybe Korematsu v. United States!

2007-02-16 19:13:43
5.   Greg Brock
Oh Bob, I'm so happy for you.
2007-02-16 19:33:40
6.   dianagramr
Most runs allowed while securing save .... 8!

(Jae Seo ... meet Dave Goltz)

2007-02-16 20:48:12
7.   dianagramr
"A relief pitcher must pitch at least 1/3 of an inning to get a save. Why is this so? In theory (and I believe it might have happened once), a pitcher could come into a game in a save situation, be announced, warm up, get credit for a appearance, but then have rain call off the game. By rule, the save goes to the pitcher who finished the game. Even if that pitcher didn't throw a pitch."

This appears to have been the case on Apr. 27, 1968:

The PBP:
INDIANS 8TH: STROUD STAYED IN GAME (PLAYING LF); Davalillo lined to third; WAGNER BATTED FOR HARPER; Wagner grounded out (pitcher
to first); SMITH BATTED FOR BROWN; Smith walked; NELSON RAN FOR SMITH; MAYE BATTED FOR GRAMLY; Maye singled to right [Nelson to
third]; BALDWIN REPLACED PASCUAL (PITCHING);; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Indians 1, Senators 2.

(and the game was called at that point)

2007-02-16 20:54:52
8.   Bob Timmermann
The save statistic wasn't official in 1968 though. I have another example linked above from 1972.
2007-02-16 21:02:54
9.   dianagramr

Oops .... you are correct. My oversight!

Saves didn't become official til '69, so Retrosheet (or others) may have gone back to "add in" saves for prior years.

2007-02-16 21:18:20
10.   Bob Timmermann
I believe the pre-1969 saves were retrospectively figured out by the people who put together the early editions of The Baseball Encyclopedia. I believe they used the 1969 definition.
2007-02-16 21:30:38
11.   Cliff Corcoran
"Caught stealing, not charged if batter would not have earned a stolen base if safe."

I think I've figured this out. Formerly, if a batter tries to stretch a single into a double (or a double into a triple, or a triple into an inside-the-park home run) and is thrown out, he was charged with a caught stealing (single and caught stealing, double and caught stealing etc.). That will no longer be the case.

2007-02-16 22:03:54
12.   Bob Timmermann
I don't think 11 is right. I think it's a typo and "batter" should be "runner".

In other words, let's say there's a pitch in the dirt and then the runner decides to break for second and is thrown out. That's not a CS. It is usually described as a "Runner's fielder choice."

I think it's just formalizing that rule.

2007-02-16 22:41:53
13.   Cliff Corcoran
Indeed, it could be that I completely made 11 up, but it sounds good, no? Then again, in the scenario in 12 it would actually make sense to rule a caught stealing.
2007-02-16 22:50:16
14.   StolenMonkey86
There are still two things from this season that I feel are unresolved:

1) Ramon Martinez's phantom run. (the date escapes me, but I want to say some time in June)

2) Did they define "meeting on the mound" a bit more clearly? I'm thinking, of course, of the one time Grady Little got ejected.

2007-02-16 23:04:45
15.   Bob Timmermann
Presently, the rule is in a comment in 10.08 (h) (3)

NOTE: In those instances where a pitched ball eludes the catcher and the runner is put out trying to advance, no caught stealing shall be charged.

I didn't see anything about the meeting at the mound rule being formalized.

I also forgot to add that the rulebook now specifies that all the "he" pronouns refer to both men and women.

2007-02-17 00:11:33
16.   Johnson
The wording in 11 is vague. As quoted, it would also seem to apply to a runner being picked off - because if the runner were safe on the pickoff play, no SB would be awarded.

What if the runner breaks, stops on a throw to the lead base, gets in a rundown, and is subsequently put out? For that matter, is a SB awarded if the runner safely reaches the lead base in this rundown scenario?

2007-02-17 00:22:53
17.   Bob Timmermann
The old Rule 10.08 (c)

When a runner, attempting to steal, or after being picked off base, evades being put out in a run-down play and advances to the next base without the aid of an error, credit the runner with a stolen base. If another runner also advances on the play, credit both runners with stolen bases. If a runner advances while another runner, attempting to steal, evades being put out in a run-down play and returns safely, without the aid of an error, to the base he originally occupied, credit a stolen base to the runner who advances.

Rule 10.00 has been recodified, so that's probably the delay in it being released. The numbers in the press release linked above don't match up to the current rules.

2007-02-17 06:47:31
18.   Vishal
[4] oh yes, i WAS there. i didn't look at the box score very carefully. :)

what about dred scott v. sandford?

2007-02-17 07:47:56
19.   Steve
I love it when a plan comes together!
2007-02-17 10:00:27
20.   Inside Baseball
13 Could it just be that now if a runner safely steals second or third base but overslides and is tagged out this will no longer be scored as a caught stealing, but as a stolen base and...this is where I need help.

This is would have major fantasy baseball implications, ok, not major.

2007-02-17 10:26:51
21.   Bob Timmermann
Once the full text of Rule 10.00 is released it will likely be clearer.

I'm thinking that it will be easier to get a stolen base, but it may only have minimal impact.

2007-02-17 12:10:33
22.   dianagramr

Scrabble geek alert:
somehow ... for some unknown reason ....
OVERSLID is NOT in the Scrabble dictionary


2007-02-18 16:31:19
23.   DXMachina
Tagging the base with the glove is now officially considered one of the ways to record a putout.

I assume the ball has to be in it, correct?

Are they just clarifying, or was it not an out before? Because common sense (my common sense, at least) would appear to make it an out.

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