Now several seasons into pace of play initiatives, the Pacific Coast League continues to see solid results when it comes to limiting game times.
It has been a few years since Minor League Baseball unveiled a series of rule changes that were intended to help shorten the length of games. Prior to the 2015 season, MiLB announced several stipulations that would be put into place at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, including a 20-second pitch timer, a pitching change clock, a between innings clock, and other initiatives.
This came as both the minors and Major League Baseball look to speed up the pace of play. Various reforms have been undertaken in the years since, though some that have been instituted in the minors–including the pitch clock–have yet to make their way to the majors.
When it comes to the Pacific Coast League, the Triple-A circuit noticed a visible reduction the first year the new rules were introduced, and currently posts shorter average game times than the majors. More from Desert News:
In 2015, the first year that the pace-of-game initiatives took place, the average time of a regular-season PCL game was 2 hours, 45 minutes — down from 2 hours, 58 minutes the year before. The time gap between MLB games and PCL games has been the starkest in the 2017 season. So far, the average time to play an MLB game is 3 hours, 9 minutes, while the average PCL game is 2 hours, 52 minutes — a difference of 17 minutes.
“The games up there (in the major leagues) are so long, so obviously, this is a testing ground for them (MLB) to see if it can help out,” [Salt Lake] Bees manager Keith Johnson said. “The games are extremely too long, but a lot of that I believe has to do with TV. Every game is on TV nowadays, there’s a lot of advertising that goes on in between innings.”
As noted, various rule changes intended to help speed up the pace of place have been rolled out in both the majors and minors over the last few years. For 2017, MLB introduced no-pitch intentional walks and various changes for replay review. Meanwhile, the camp-based Gulf Coast and Arizona Leagues are experimenting with new extra innings rules that could limit the time of games.