Baseball is making some changes!
No, not DHs in the National League or a universal definition of a balk or anything you’ve actually heard of before. In a continuing sports trend in which teams are penalized for not ending the game fast enough, MLB will begin experimenting with having teams start with a runner on second base in extra innings.
Major League Baseball plans on testing a rule change in the lowest levels of the minor leagues this season that automatically would place a runner on second base at the start of extra innings, a distinct break from the game’s orthodoxy that nonetheless has wide-ranging support at the highest levels of the league, sources familiar with the plan told Yahoo Sports.
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.
Is there such a thing as "too much baseball?" Mid-January me says "Inject it into my veins," but late-August me says "Maybe God never existed." In either case, some people, like Joe Torre, are a fan of the idea, and others, get this: are not.
How about each extra inning you need to remove a hitter from the field and your lineup? Why even call it baseball anymore?— Matt Winkelman (@Matt_Winkelman) February 8, 2017
The poor AFL. Always chosen as the laboratory for the commissioner's mad science. It wasn’t so long ago they were experimenting with clocks. Honest go god clocks! When baseball needed a sexy injection to keep the young people interested, they naturally went straight to "clocks."
Anyway, let’s flash to a time in which this rule is in effect in the big leagues and the Phillies are no longer automatically forfeiting games that go into extra innings by having the 25th player on the roster deliver formal terms of surrender to the opposing dugout before taking a cyanide tablet. This hypothetical period can’t be too far into the future, because we’re looking at who on the Phillies’ current roster would be the best selection. For that reason I have assembled some power rankings.
- Roman Quinn: Obviously. Quinn almost seems like cheating. Superhumans like him and Billy Hamilton could make this rule get old real fast, but are also why I’m sure there will be some dictation on which player is selected to run.
- Odubel Herrera: The staff speedster until Quinn gets a full-time job, Herrera led the team in runs scored with 87 in 2016. That’s 20 more than the guys tied for the spot behind him (Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco, each with 67).
- Freddy Galvis: Freddy has speed and veteran intelligence. What a far more useful player he’s been than the one-note defender he was projected to be as a prospect. Go Freddy! Go baseball!
- Cesar Hernandez: Hernandez was the 2016 Phillies lineup’s equivalent of a firecracker tossed in a public bathroom, but it’s February and I can still, with painful clarity, see some of his more boneheaded base running faux pas in my head. Also remember he was thrown out stealing 13 times last year.
- Dylan Cozens: Even though his year was defined by power, Cozens went 20-for-21 on the base paths.
- Aaron Altherr: Altherr we honestly haven’t seen enough of for him to be at No. 3, even though I had him there initially.
- Nick Williams: People love Williams’ bat speed but his leg speed is not cited as particularly noteworthy. It seems fine. He’s certainly fast enough to really hurt himself when running into a wall.
- Howie Kendrick: At some point you’d have to wonder what was wrong with every guy in front of him.
- Tyler Goeddel: Goeddel did very little this year. One of the things he did little was base running. Another was scoring.
- Maikel Franco: A player whose run-scoring is usually taking place because of the distance he has put between himself and the ball. Though he has a habit of ditching extra weight like a thief fleeing a bank heist by losing his helmet. Though in truth this has more entertainment value than base running value.
- Andres Blanco: I love Andres. But you’d be too busy wondering "How has it come to this" to even watch the rest of the game.
- Jesmuel Valentin: I have to be honest, I forget who this guy is.
- Tommy Joseph: Here is an image of one of Joseph’s two stolen base attempts this year.
14. Michael Saunders: The Phillies did not acquire Saunders to win them games with his legs. Unless they’re trotting.
15. Cameron Rupp, Jorge Alfaro, Andrew Knapp: Alfaro’s been called out for his speed, but why would you even look at a catcher during this selection process.
Then there’s the pitchers, but if a game is in extras, a manager living in fear of an 18-inning marathon might not be eager to drop a reliever in there and get himself that much closer to putting Jeff Francoeur on the mound. Will specialists emerge from the pen? Guys who are like closers 2.0, who not only thrive under pressure, but can do so with a gun to their heads?
So many questions! Ah, well. This concludes another arbitrary midwinter baseball article that killed a few minutes until spring. How’d we do? Thirty? Forty seconds? Great. Well, if you’ll excuse me, I have a perfectly sane offseason phone call to make.
15 minutes in: Caller asks why Klentak/MacPhail didn't go sign Trumbo, Carter AND Napoli so Phils can make playoffs.— Ben Harris (@Ben27Harris) February 8, 2017
So there's that. https://t.co/DlWtWrj2HD