January 25, 2021

The Three Batter Minimum Rule Barely Matters (FanGraphs)


The concept of one-out pitchers suggests a kind of dystopian future for baseball. Generic Matchup Righty Number One (let’s call him Adam Cimber for the sake of this sentence) comes in to get the first out of an inning. He’s replaced by Adam Kolarek to get a lefty, then Adam Ottavino to get another righty, and then, look, I’m out of Adams, but maybe Adam Wainwright was the starter?

In any case, it’s hard to imagine a more boring inning, a more surefire way to get Johnny and Jane Millennial to change the channel to Fortnite or American Gladiators or whatever it is the kids like these days. That, more or less, is the theory behind MLB’s newest rule change, a three batter minimum for relief pitchers that will go into effect for the 2020 season. The rule requires a pitcher to face three batters, or pitch to the end of the half-inning, with some exceptions for injuries.

There’s only one problem with that narrative: that all-Adam inning doesn’t exist much in the majors, even without a three batter minimum. In fact, the one-out relief specialist just isn’t much of a role in baseball anymore. I investigated the numbers to find out which teams would be most…

Read “The Three Batter Minimum Rule Barely Matters” at FanGraphs