Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly thinks reversing the tolerance for strikeouts would speed the pace of play.
“Analytically, a few years back nobody cared about the strikeout, so it’s OK to strike out 150, 160, 170 times, and that guy’s still valued in a big way,” Mattingly said. “Well, as soon as we start causing that to be a bad value — the strikeouts — guys will put the ball in play more. So once we say strikeouts are bad and it’s going to cost you money the more you strike out, then the strikeouts will go away. Guys will start making adjustments and putting the ball in play more.”
Strikeouts have set records in recent seasons, with teams averaging 8.03 per game last year. A career .307 hitter with 222 homers over 14 seasons, Mattingly never struck out more than 43 times in a single year.
“If our game values strikeouts don’t matter, they are going to keep striking out, hitting homers, trying to hit home runs and striking out,” Mattingly said.
Pitchless intentional walk change gets ’17 OK
The traditional four-pitch intentional walk is getting the heave-ho, with MLB and the union agreeing to go to a signal from the dugout in an effort to speed up play.
Mattingly would like to see umpires enforce 2015 regulations requiring hitters to remain in the batter’s box, once they step in, with several exceptions. While the rules caused a drop in the average time of a nine-inning game that year, enforcement became lax last season and the average time rose to 3 hours.
“Keeping guys in the box just keeps the game moving,” Mattingly said.
He isn’t sure whether restoring the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap would result in quicker play. No change is likely until 2018 at the earliest.