Red Sox

MLB’s new pitch clock is making an immediate impact through the first week of play – even for slugging Red Sox

Through the first four days of the 2023 MLB season, the average game has lasted just 2:38.

The pitch clock in center field at Fenway Park during the first inning of a baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles, Saturday, April 1, 2023, in Boston.
The Red Sox have been one of the few teams to have games exceed the three-hour mark this season. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

It hasn’t taken very long for MLB’s new pitch clock to speed up the pace of play through the first week of regular-season action.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan tweeted an informative assortment of statistics Monday, comparing the first four days of both the 2022 and 2023 MLB seasons. 

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Last year, the average MLB game through those first four days was 3:09 long. This season, that average length has dipped down to 2:38 per contest.

More than a half-hour shaved off of a baseball game’s clock has made for a much more streamlined product, with Passan noting that the accelerated pace has actually injected more offense into the game.


Last season, batters slashed 230/.308/.374 over those four games. So far in 2023? Those numbers at the dish are up to .245/.323/.392.

The headliner among multiple rule changes implemented for the 2023 season, the pitch clock rang up 40 total violations through these first four days (50 total games).

As part of the rules, pitchers have 15 seconds to begin their motion with the bases empty — and 20 seconds with a runner on. If they don’t begin their delivery in that allotted time, they will be assessed a ball. Batters that are not set in the box by the eight-second mark will receive a strike.

The 2023 Red Sox have been outliers so far this season when it comes to their own pace of play. So far, Boston’s three games against the Orioles logged 3:10, 3:04 and 2:44 of total game time, respectively.

But given the amount of offense generated by both Boston and Baltimore, having the longest game of the series (a 10-9 season-opening loss featuring 26 total hits and 12 combined walks) only exceed the three-hour mark by 10 minutes sure feels like progress. 

Look no further than the snail-like pace that the 2022 Red Sox operated at. Last year, the Red Sox played a whopping 74 games that exceeded that 3:10 of game time, including six games that dragged over the four-hour mark.


In total, the 2022 Sox only played 14 games that were finished under the 2:38 league average that MLB has been on so far in 2023.

Considering that Boston likely isn’t going to keep averaging nine runs a game, it’s to be expected for its game times to fall more in line with the league average.

Even back in spring training when many MLBers were learning the hard way about pitch-clock violations, Alex Cora praised the positive impact that the new rule would usher in. 

“It’s been great. I love it, to be honest,” Cora said down in Fort Myers. “Why I say that? Because I want to be home sooner rather than later. I think it’s a better product for the fans. I can tell you from experience right now with my kids — they’re playing soccer, they’re playing baseball, they’re doing gymnastics. And in order, it’s 1A, 1B and 3? It’s baseball. And they love it. They like it. But they take ground balls, and then you go in the back of the line, and it takes forever.

“I hate to say it, because I want them to love the game. They love it. But I would love them to play it. But this is where we’re at, and there’s sports out there — they’re more fun. Because there’s no dead time. When they go to soccer practice, it’s nonstop … The pace has been amazing. Obviously, there’s a few things that we still have to work [on] and we got 27 more days or whatever it is to get to where we want to. But for the game, for where we want to go? No doubt about it. This is the right thing.”


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