For fans of the oldest pastime in American sports, the wait is almost over. The MLB season will begin on April 7th after MLB and the players’ union agreed earlier in March to a new collective bargaining agreement. People looking to get their MLB picks today from popular sports personalities now get that chance with the MLB regular season back on track in 2022.
Many fans of baseball feared the players’ strike would cancel the sport for a portion of the 2022 season. However, the players’ union and MLB owners would come to an agreement to save the 162 game regular season of baseball for 2022. The new collective bargaining agreement makes some changes to the MLB playoff format, along with other changes dealing with player pay and rule changes. The new agreement will expire on December 1st, 2026 and looks to be good for all parties involved.
MLB Playoffs Extended to 12 Teams
The big change with the MLB postseason comes with the expansion of the number of teams in the playoffs. No longer will there be a one-game elimination playoff round between the two wild card teams. Now there will be six teams in each league that get a playoff berth, the three divisional champions, and the three teams in the league with the best record that didn’t win their division.
The postseason will have a bye for the top two division winners, with the last-place divisional winner and the other three playoff teams facing each other in a best of three-game series. Next, the two winners will then advance to face the two teams that got a bye in a best of five-game series. The format added two teams from the original ten-team format that was in place with the old collective bargaining agreement.
Universal Designated Hitter
The designated hitter (DH) will no longer be exclusive to the American League (AL), as the collective bargaining agreement adds the option for the National League (NL) now. Having a universal DH helps players who would have otherwise been stuck in the AL because of only being used as a DH in their career. The move also helps the NL, who had been stuck using pitchers in their batting lineup over the years.
It will be interesting to see how the DH in the NL will play out for teams. Previously, the NL could only use a DH when they played at the home field of an AL team. Pitchers now don’t have to worry about batting ever again with the recent rule change.
Higher Pay for Players and Added Benefits for Players
The minimum salary increases to $700,000 and increases by $20,000 per season until the end of the new collective bargaining agreement in 2026. The increase is $129,500 more than the previous minimum salary in MLB. Higher pay for players was one of the key points for players during negotiations between the players’ union and MLB.
Retired players will also benefit from the new agreement, as the agreement gives them an increase in their pension amount. Current players will see improved medical benefits under the agreement. The benefits are another win for current and former MLB players.
More Additional Things to Come for the 2023 Season
There are several additional things that will come in the 2023 season for MLB. One will be the base sizes being increased from 15 square inches to 18 inches. Next will be a ban on defensive shifts. The new rules now require teams to have two infielders on each side of second base. That will do away with the heavy shift that teams use against players that only hit to one side of the field.
The last thing coming in 2023 will be the addition of a pitch clock. A 14-second pitch clock will require pitchers to make their pitches in a timely manner, with the possibility of it going to 19 seconds with a runner on base. The pitch clock will help the flow and speed of the game. It will be interesting how the implementation of a pitch clock will work in MLB for the 2023 season.