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MLB ghost runner rule: League makes extra-innings change permanent for regular-season games, per report

Every regular season half-inning in extras will automatically start with a runner on second base.

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Major League Baseball's extra-innings tiebreaker rule, in which a runner is automatically placed at second base to begin each extra inning, is now permanent, reports ESPN . MLB's joint competition committee has voted unanimously to make the rule permanent for the regular season and regular season only. Postseason games will continue to feature "regular" play in extra innings.

MLB first used the extra-innings tiebreaker rule during the 60-game pandemic season in 2020 as a way to shorten games and reduce injury risk after the unusual spring training shutdown and midsummer build-up period for pitchers. The rule remained on a temporary basis in 2021 and 2022, and now it has been made permanent.

Approximately 10 percent of regular season games go to extra innings, historically. Last year 223 of 2,430 regular season games went to extra innings, or 9.2 percent. With the extra-innings tiebreaker rule, only seven games have gone as long as 13 innings the last three seasons. There were 37 13-inning games in 2019 alone, the last year with "normal" extra-inning rules.

The longest game with the extra-innings tiebreaker rule is a 16-inning affair between the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers last Aug. 25. On Aug. 9, the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners played a 13-inning game in which the Yankees sent only seven batters to the plate in a three-inning span because the automatic runner kept making baserunning mistakes and running into outs.

The automatic runner placed at second base in extra innings does not count as an earned run for the pitcher. The runner gets credit for a run scored but not a time on base, and thus does not receive a boost to his on-base percentage. The batter who drives in the automatic runner is credited with an RBI.

MLB's 11-person joint competition committee includes six team representatives, four player representatives, and one umpire representative. Given the makeup of the committee, MLB can jam through any rule change proposals it wants, though the extra-innings tiebreaker was approved unanimously. People within game clearly like the rule more than most fans.

A version of the extra-innings tiebreaker rule has been used by the International Baseball Federation, the governing body for Olympic and international baseball competition, for decades.

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MLB Ghost Runner Rule

MLB Ghost Runner Rule

Although most professional baseball games go to nine innings , a tied score can force the game into extra innings . In 2020, the MLB introduced a rule to quicken such extra innings during the regular season and made it a permanent fixture of the sport in 2023. Read on to learn all about the MLB’s ghost runner rule.

Table of Contents

Ghost runner rules, origins of the rule, mlb ghost runner rule summary.

The ghost runner rule gives each team a runner on second base at the start of every additional extra inning after the ninth inning . It was initially adopted by the MLB in 2020 and the NCAA in 2021, making the majority of collegiate and professional baseball have a ghost runner during extra innings of regular season games .

The extra innings ghost runner rule is also known to some as the “Manfred Man Rule.”  The name originates from that of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who is known for campaigning for baseball games to be shortened. Since Manfred created the idea of a free runner in extra innings, people began to call the ghost runner “the Manfred Man,” a slightly-mocking name that reflected many people’s distaste for the new rule.

The ghost runner rule was implemented as part of the MLB’s pandemic guidelines for two main reasons. Firstly, adding a ghost runner during extra innings meant that games went faster, reducing the time that athletes were on the field . Secondly, reducing game time had a benefit for teams and their rosters as well, given that fewer pitchers and batters were necessary during games.

The MLB ghost runner rule first originated during the shortened 2020 MLB season.  As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which swept the world starting in March 2020, many sports were affected by the need to shorten or cancel games, create social distancing between athletes, and prevent the spread of disease.

After electing to shorten the 2020 season, the MLB also chose to institute a number of rule changes as part of their Health and Safety Guidelines. Many of these rules were meant to be temporary changes to ensure the safety of players and games, but others also served as a test for future rule adjustments, and the ghost runner rule was one of them.

As the MLB had long been debating ways to shorten game length in order to broaden the appeal of baseball, the ghost runner rule proved to be an effective adjustment, and it was decided that the rule would remain in place for both 2021 and 2022 seasons. The NCAA also adopted the ghost runner rule beginning in 2021.  The ghost runner rule was eventually made permanent for the 2023 MLB season, applying to all regular-season games, but not to games during the playoffs or World Series.

  • The ghost runner rule is a rule that applies to extra innings in baseball.
  • According to the rule, if a game tied at the end of the ninth inning goes to extra innings, each team will get a runner on second base at the start of each additional inning.
  • The free runner received by each team starts every half-inning during extra innings automatically on second base.
  • The ghost runner rule was first put in place during the shortened 2020 MLB season, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The rule remained in place in both 2021 and 2022.
  • The ghost runner rule was made permanent for all regular-season games in 2023.
  • As of now, the ghost runner rule does not apply in postseason games.

What is the MLB extra innings ghost runner rule?

The MLB extra innings ghost runner rule is a newer rule that gives teams a free runner on second base at the start of any extra inning.  This rule only applies for regular-season games and is meant to accelerate how quickly teams can score during extra innings, and thus how much faster the game can end. The rule is also sometimes called the “Manfred Man” rule after baseball commissioner Rob Manfred.

When was the ghost runner rule first implemented?

The ghost runner rule was first implemented in 2020. The MLB already had a season shortened by the pandemic and wanted to ensure that games did not run too long, adding the ghost runner rule for all regular-season games. The ghost runner rule was first implemented by the NCAA for collegiate baseball in 2021 and has also remained since.

Why did the MLB make the ghost runner rule permanent?

The MLB made the ghost runner rule permanent in 2023.  The rule had been preliminarily added in 2020 and then renewed before the start of the next two seasons. However, it was announced by the MLB that the ghost runner rule would become permanent for the 2023 season, though it would still not be applied during postseason games.

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What Is the Ghost Runner Rule in Baseball?

ghost runner rule baseball

The Ghost Runner Rule in baseball introduces a unique twist to extra innings. Learn about its origins, purpose, and the impact it has on gameplay strategy.

  • The “Ghost Runner Rule” (also known as the “Designated Runner” or “Automatic Runner”) was created to limit injuries and speed up extra-inning games.
  • The rule works by placing a runner on second base at the beginning of each half-inning after the ninth, with the designated runner being determined by designating the hitter in the batting order before that hitter comes up to bat.
  • If a team scores with their designated runner, it counts as an official run.

In this article...

How is the ghost runner rule different from your backyard rule? 

You probably didn’t have enough players to field a team when you were a kid playing in your backyard or local sandlot. To alleviate a lack of players, you probably replaced base runners with “ghost men.” And then there were probably arguments about how fast the ghost man was and whether or not they slid under a tag. The backyard ghost man was not an efficient substitute. 

The MLB ghost runner is different. For one thing, it is actually called the “ Designated Runner .” Many fans will refer to it as the “ghost runner.” Once a regular season game hits extra innings, a runner is put on second to begin each half-inning. The designated runner is determined by designating the hitter in the batting order before the hitter comes up at the beginning of the inning. 

What is the purpose of the designated runner? 

The designated runner rule was first adopted as part of Major League Baseball’s safety and protocol rules following COVID. The goal was simple–to shorten games that went into extra innings.

By placing a runner in scoring position at the beginning of each half inning after the ninth, the belief was that this would increase the odds of teams scoring and limit the number of extra innings played. This would limit exposure on the field, but it would also decrease, in theory, the need for pitchers in extra innings. 

How does the designated runner work? 

At the beginning of each half-inning after the ninth, a runner is placed on second. There are no outs in the inning, and the offensive team continues to follow its offensive lineup. The runner is the player in the batting order before the first hitter is due up that inning.

If the inning ends with the runner stranded, it is like any other scoreless inning. However, if the offense bats the runner in to score, that run does count in the official score. It should be noted that this particular run would not count against the ERA of the pitcher of record. 

Like in any other game, if the visiting club scores a run in the top half of the inning, the home team has an opportunity to tie or win the game in the bottom half. However, if the visiting team fails to score a run in the top half of the inning, but the home team scores a run and breaks the tie in the bottom half , the game is over. Again, it is important to note that if a designated runner scores, it does not count against the pitcher of record as an earned run. 

Can you use pinch runners? 

You absolutely can use a pinch runner in this situation. However, it is important to remember that the same rules for pinch-running apply in this situation. That pinch runner is now part of the lineup. If your team has to go into the field, then your pinch runner would need to appear in the field for the player they pinch ran for. 

An exception to this rule would be if they ran for the designated hitter. If the game continued to the point that your team reached the part of the batting order where the designated hitter hit, then your pinch runner would need to bat in their position. Your starter would be unable to reenter the lineup in an MLB game. You could, however, make a defensive substitution for the pinch runner if you needed to and had the players on your bench to accommodate such a move. 

Is the designated runner used in the postseason? 

The designated runner is not used in the postseason. You will only see this used during regular season games in extra innings. 

Can the designated runner steal bases? 

Yes. The designated runner has all the abilities that a regular runner would have. They can steal. They can advance on a wild pitch. They can also be picked off. They can be thrown out for stealing. The runner has no inherent protections. 

Can you use any player to be the designated runner? 

The way the rule is written, the player assigned to be the designated runner is the batter scheduled before the current batter in the order. For example, if the 8th batter in your lineup is scheduled to lead off the 10th inning, your number 7 hitter would be your designated runner. 

While you can use a pinch runner or substitute for the runner, it cannot be anyone else in your lineup–or any player that has exited the game. For example, you could not use your number 6 hitter (in the previously stated scenario).

You also cannot use, for example, a player you pinch hit for in the 9th. If the player is no longer eligible to play in the game, they are no longer qualified to be a designated runner. However, if you have eligible players on the bench, you can use them as pinch runners, but once they enter the lineup, they are now part of the lineup. They need to field and hit if the game continues or until another player replaces them. 

Could you have pitchers pinch run? 

Pitchers can be substituted into any position during the game. In the same way, you could have a position player pitch, you could have a pitcher play the field, hit, or run. This would probably be a rare occurrence, as most teams wouldn’t want to risk a pitcher getting hurt on the base paths. But could it be done? Yes. 

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MLB makes extra-inning 'ghost runner' a permanent rule change

NEW YORK – Starting extra innings with a runner on second base during the regular season was made a permanent rules change by Major League Baseball on Monday after three seasons of use during the coronavirus pandemic.

Known by some as the “Ghost Runner” and by others as the “Manfred Man” after baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, the rule was unanimously adopted by the sport’s 11-person competition committee.

Use of position players as pitchers also was tightened by the committee. They will be limited to extra innings, when a player’s team is losing by eight or more runs or is winning by 10 or more runs in the ninth inning. Last year, a position player could pitch only in extra innings or if his team was losing or winning by six or more runs.

The joint competition committee, established in the lockout settlement last March, includes six management officials, four union representatives and one umpire.

There were 216 extra-inning games last year, down from 233 in 2021 and 78 during the shortened 2020 season. The longest last year was Cleveland’s 7-6, 15-inning win over Minnesota in the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 17. That was one inning shy of the longest in the three seasons of the rule, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 16-inning win at San Diego on Aug. 25, 2021.

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Home teams went 113-103 in extra-inning games last year and are 262-263 in extra innings since the runner on second rule started in 2020, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Home teams were 312-294 in extra-inning games from 2017-19, Elias said.

The rule was adopted as a pandemic measure for the 2020 season and appears likely to stay.

“Clubs have gotten used to the extra-innings rule,” Manfred said Thursday after an owners’ meeting. “I think it’s generally well-liked by players.”

Use of position players as pitchers rose from 90 on 2019 to 89 in 2021 and 132 last year, according to the commissioner’s office. Use when trailing by six or seven runs increased from eight in 2019 to 16 in 2021 to 28 last year.

Use when leading by six or more runs rose from 1 in 2019 and none in 2021 to 18 last season.

MLB

MLB makes extra-inning ghost-runner rule permanent, per sources: How has it changed the game?

Oct 14, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; General view of a baseball before game three of the NLDS for the 2022 MLB Playoffs between the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball ’s Joint Competition Committee voted to make the rule automatically placing a runner at second base at the start of every extra inning in regular-season games permanent Monday, MLB sources confirmed to The Athletic . ESPN first reported the news. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The competition committee also voted to further limit the use of position players as pitchers to only extra innings, or by a leading team when it is up by 10 or more runs in the ninth inning, or by a trailing team any time it is down by eight or more runs, the sources confirmed. Teams could previously use position players as pitchers when they were leading or trailing by six runs.
  • The extra-inning “ghost-runner” rule was first implemented during the 2020 COVID-19-impacted season and continued through last season as the lockout-shortened spring training created additional risk for potential injuries.
  • MLB is also implementing a number of other rule changes for 2023: the use of a pitch clock, eliminating the shift, using larger bases and limiting the number of times a pitcher can step off the rubber per at-bat.

The Athletic ’s instant analysis:

How has the ghost-runner impacted play?

Starting extra innings with a runner on second has had large ramifications to date. In 2019, baseball saw 37 games go 13 innings or longer, with eight over 15 innings. Last year, there were only 11 games that lasted 13 innings or longer, and none over 15. The idea behind reducing marathon games might be that, with pitching staffs built with more and more one-inning pitchers over time, and injuries continuing to stay prevalent, putting pressure on the game to end quicker could be good for arms on every team.

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Certainly, everyone working at the game appreciates avoiding 20-inning marathons. But those attending the game might disagree, and cite the fact that, with this rule in place, extra-inning runs have scored at over two times the rate they score in the first nine innings. That’s fundamentally different baseball! Their retort might ask baseball teams to build their rosters with more pitchers capable of going longer in emergency situations. — Sarris

Why limit position players pitching?

Five years ago, there were 78 pitches thrown under 60 miles per hour during the regular season across all of baseball. Last year, that number soared to 856 as teams increasingly turned to position players to soak up innings. Baseball chose to limit that ability in a rule that might seem complicated but really just boils down to the fact that the rules now limit something that was once unique and has become commonplace and less interesting.

The funny thing is that these new rules wouldn’t have changed anything about what might have been the high water mark for position players pitching: catcher Luis Torrens became the first Mariner position player in franchise history to get the win on the mound as he pitched the tenth for a playoff-bound squad that wanted to rest its arms in the first game of an October doubleheader last season. — Sarris

Required reading

  • What MLB players and managers are saying about the rule changes for 2023
  • How MLB’s new rules are shaping the 2022-23 offseason and changing the art of team building

(Photo: Bill Streicher / USA Today)

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‘Ghost runner’ in extra innings made permanent by MLB

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks with the news media after a meeting of MLB owners, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks with the news media after a meeting of MLB owners, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Starting extra innings with a runner on second base during the regular season was made a permanent rules change by Major League Baseball on Monday after three seasons of use during the coronavirus pandemic.

Known by some as the “Ghost Runner” and by others as the “Manfred Man” after baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, the rule was unanimously adopted by the sport’s 11-person competition committee.

Use of position players as pitchers also was tightened by the committee. They will be limited to extra innings, when a player’s team is losing by eight or more runs or is winning by 10 or more runs in the ninth inning. Last year, a position player could pitch only in extra innings or if his team was losing or winning by six or more runs.

The joint competition committee, established in the lockout settlement last March, includes six management officials, four union representatives and one umpire.

There were 216 extra-inning games last year, down from 233 in 2021 and 78 during the shortened 2020 season. The longest last year was Cleveland’s 7-6, 15-inning win over Minnesota in the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 17. That was one inning shy of the longest in the three seasons of the rule, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 16-inning win at San Diego on Aug. 25, 2021.

Home teams went 113-103 in extra-inning games last year and are 262-263 in extra innings since the runner on second rule started in 2020, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Home teams were 312-294 in extra-inning games from 2017-19, Elias said.

The rule was adopted as a pandemic measure for the 2020 season and appears likely to stay.

“Clubs have gotten used to the extra-innings rule,” Manfred said Thursday after an owners’ meeting. “I think it’s generally well-liked by players.”

Use of position players as pitchers rose from 90 on 2019 to 89 in 2021 and 132 last year, according to the commissioner’s office. Use when trailing by six or seven runs increased from eight in 2019 to 16 in 2021 to 28 last year.

Use when leading by six or more runs rose from 1 in 2019 and none in 2021 to 18 last season.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Report: MLB permanently implements extra-innings ghost runners, tweaks rule on position players pitching

Baseball's ghost runner is here to stay.

MLB's joint competition committee unanimously approved the rule placing a runner at second base at the start of every extra inning in the regular season, ESPN's Jesse Rogers reported Monday. The rule was initially implemented amid the 2020 season in an effort to reduce injury risk and wear on pitchers in a limited player pool. It also limits the chances of marathon extra-innings affairs.

The rule had since been adopted on a season-by-season basis in 2021 and 2022.

Monday's decision makes the rule permanent barring a future vote to rescind it. The rule does not apply in the postseason.

Per the report, MLB is also changing its rules regarding position players pitching. Previously, teams were allowed to put a position player on the mound during a game in which they were leading or trailing by six or more runs.

Now, teams in the lead have to hold a 10-run advantage in the ninth inning before sending a non-pitcher to the mound, and teams trailing by eight or more will be allowed to use position players as pitchers at any point in the game, per the report.

As with the ghost runner, extra innings changes the rules. Position players can pitch regardless of game circumstance once a game goes past nine innings.

'Ghost Runner' in Extra Innings Made Permanent by MLB

Starting extra innings with a runner on second base during the regular season was made a permanent rules change by Major League Baseball after three seasons of use during the coronavirus pandemic

'Ghost Runner' in Extra Innings Made Permanent by MLB

Lynne Sladky

Lynne Sladky

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks with the news media after a meeting of MLB owners, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

NEW YORK (AP) — Starting extra innings with a runner on second base during the regular season was made a permanent rules change by Major League Baseball on Monday after three seasons of use during the coronavirus pandemic.

Known by some as the “Ghost Runner” and by others as the “Manfred Man” after baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, the rule was unanimously adopted by the sport’s 11-person competition committee.

Use of position players as pitchers also was tightened by the committee. They will be limited to extra innings, when a player's team is losing by eight or more runs or is winning by 10 or more runs in the ninth inning. Last year, a position player could pitch only in extra innings or if his team was losing or winning by six or more runs.

The joint competition committee, established in the lockout settlement last March, includes six management officials, four union representatives and one umpire.

There were 216 extra-inning games last year, down from 233 in 2021 and 78 during the shortened 2020 season. The longest last year was Cleveland’s 7-6, 15-inning win over Minnesota in the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 17. That was one inning shy of the longest in the three seasons of the rule, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 16-inning win at San Diego on Aug. 25, 2021.

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ghost runner rule baseball

Home teams went 113-103 in extra-inning games last year and are 262-263 in extra innings since the runner on second rule started in 2020, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Home teams were 312-294 in extra-inning games from 2017-19, Elias said.

The rule was adopted as a pandemic measure for the 2020 season and appears likely to stay.

“Clubs have gotten used to the extra-innings rule," Manfred said Thursday after an owners' meeting. “I think it’s generally well-liked by players.”

Use of position players as pitchers rose from 90 on 2019 to 89 in 2021 and 132 last year, according to the commissioner’s office. Use when trailing by six or seven runs increased from eight in 2019 to 16 in 2021 to 28 last year.

Use when leading by six or more runs rose from 1 in 2019 and none in 2021 to 18 last season.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2023 The  Associated Press . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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What is a Ghost Runner in Baseball? – Baseball Rule Explained

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FACT-CHECKED BY

Sean Hunter

what is a ghost runner in baseball

Unlike basketball, football, and soccer, baseball games don’t operate with a time clock. As a result, baseball matches can go on indefinitely. To address this issue, officials have recently added a ghost runner in Major League baseball.

What is a ghost runner in baseball? The MLB ghost runner is a runner automatically placed on second base at the start of each extra inning. It is intended to prevent baseball matches from extending for long hours.

What is the Purpose of the Ghost Runner Rule?

How is the ghost runner chosen in major league baseball, are there limitations to what a ghost runner can do, has the ghost runner rule been effective, will the mlb ghost runner become a permanent ruling in regular season games.

ghost-runner-mlb

The ghost runner MLB rule is a relatively new rule that was first implemented in the 2020 regular season. As part of safety and protocol rules at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, its primary purpose was to limit exposure by cutting short any match that extended to extra innings.

The ghost runner is also often referred to as the designated runner or automatic runner. MLB officials believed that placing an extra inning runner on second base at the start of each inning would up the chances of either team scoring a run. That way, matches could end earlier.

Besides speeding up games that continued beyond the ninth inning, this MLB free runner rule also worked in favor of the pitchers. There was a lesser need for them to pitch in extra innings, thus preserving their pitching arm and preventing undue injury.

Only specific players can be the MLB ghost runner when matches extend beyond the ninth inning. There are detailed implementing regulations to the ghost runner rule, so teams are not at liberty to choose their fastest runners to put on 2nd base.

Each MLB team has its batting lineup as part of its offensive strategy. This is often referred to as the batting order and lists the sequence in which hitters take their turns in batting. 

According to the ghost runner rule, the designated runner is the hitter that precedes the current batter in the batting order. So, technically, that would be the player who batted last in the previous inning.

For instance, batter #5 is scheduled to come up to the batter’s box at the end of a tied nine-inning game. Therefore, the 10th inning will start with batter #5 at bat and batter #4 on the 2nd base as the ghost runner.

ghost-runner-rule

The ghost runner enjoys all the privileges of a regular runner on base, except that runs earned will not count against the pitcher’s earned run average (ERA) . That makes sense since the ghost runner didn’t really get to 2nd base by his personal effort.

However, the ghost runner can steal bases, advance on a wild pitch or passed ball, and score a run. And while a ghost runner’s performance does not affect the pitcher’s ERA, getting to the home plate adds to the hitter’s run-scored record.

However, such loopholes haven’t escaped the eyes and minds of avid baseball advocates. As a result, there have been proposals to come up with more specific baseball statistics to address these variations and measure their occurrences.

This runner on 2nd extra innings rule has considerably shortened baseball matches that would have otherwise gone for long hours and worn out players, particularly the pitchers. Figures are available to validate this observation.

After MLB placed ghost runners in the 2020 regular season, there was a noticeable drop in the number of extra-innings for nine-inning matches that ended in a tie.

Games that went past the 11th inning were down by 73 percent—from a high of 60 in 2019 to a low of 16 in 2020. Moreover, only one match stretched to the 15th inning. That’s a stark contrast to and a sizable 93-percent drop from 15 games in 2019!

mlb-ghost-runner

Because of its favorable results, many players, team managers, and officials are advocating for the continued or even permanent implementation of the MLB runner on second rule.

All sectors believe that the ghost runner rule creates a win-win situation by adding excitement to the game and speeding it up without leaving players totally spent or even injured. And it seems the clamor for its retention hasn’t fallen on deaf ears.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred himself has expressed support numerous times and hinted that the ghost runner is here to stay. While the rule did not apply to postseason games, it made a comeback during the 2021 and 2022 regular seasons.

Sporting competitions adapt to the changing times. Officials create, test out, and modify game rules, sometimes even breaking tradition for the common good. Such is the case of the ghost runner rule in baseball.

What is a ghost runner in baseball? After reading this article, you now have a clearer picture of this relatively new rule in Major League Baseball that has gained the favor of players and fans alike. Feel free to share your newly acquired knowledge with fellow baseball enthusiasts. 

Willie-Smith

A powerful swing and the ball is flying across the field, just one hit, and we might never forget the thrill it brings. I do not know about you, but I never do. Every baseball game is the chance to compete with others and cooperate with your teammate. It is among my biggest passions. 

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MLB extra inning rules, explained: Baseball is screwed after 9 frames

By scott rogust | feb 13, 2023.

Jul 24, 2020; Oakland, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) becomes the first player in MLB history to start an inning on second base with new extra inning rules during the tenth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

MLB’s Joint Competition Committee unanimously voted in favor of the extra inning “ghost runner” rule being made permanent for the foreseeable future.

The NFL season is officially over after Super Bowl 57, which had baseball fans decreeing that it was officially baseball season. It certainly helped with the fact that a variety of players on all 30 MLB teams began appearing at spring training facilities to prepare for the upcoming season. While fans will take in spring training games, it won’t be too long until Opening Day on March 30.

On Monday, fans received some news that they probably won’t like.

According to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, MLB’s Joint Competition Committee unanimously agreed to make the extra inning rule permanent for all regular season games for the foreseeable future. This rule will allow a baserunner to take second base at the top and bottom of extra innings as needed.

Breaking: MLB’s Joint Competition Committee has voted unanimously to make the extra inning rule permanent for all regular season games moving forward. (2023 and beyond). A runner will be placed at second base at the start of every extra inning. Story coming at espn — Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) February 13, 2023

MLB’s extra innings ‘ghost-runner’ rule, explained

In the past, MLB games would be played as long as possible if two teams are tied after the ninth inning. Sometimes, these games could go another nine innings! But that all changed in the 2020 season.

With MLB and the Player’s Association (MLBPA) agreeing to terms on starting the 2020 season in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, one aspect they agreed to was the “ghost-runner” rule. Considering they didn’t start the season until that July and that the team’s had spring training cut short, they agreed to the rule of starting a frame of an extra inning with a runner on second to mitigate injuries to players. With that, a player is less like to get injured and the game would end quicker.

A baserunner is the last hitter at the plate in the previous half-inning.

The rule was in effect until the conclusion of the 2021 season, when the collective bargaining agreement between the league and players union ran out. But when both sides agreed to a new deal, the “ghost-runner” rule was brought back for the 2022 season . While it’s not popular among fans, it is liked by players, managers, and executives.

With this latest vote, the man on second base to start extra innings rule is in effect for all regular-season games for the foreseeable future. For fans wondering about postseason games, the old rules will be in effect . As in, no runner will start at second base for the start of a frame in each inning. Instead, the game will take as long as needed. Look no further than the Game 3 of the 2022 ALDS between the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners, which took 18 innings to complete.

Whether fans like the “ghost-runner” rule or not, it is here to stay.

MLB news: Derek Jeter’s new job, fake Ronald Acuña rumors, Dodgers cheating allegations, and more. dark. Next

How effective has baseball’s ghost runner rule been in shortening extra-inning games?

Since 2020, a runner has started on second base in each extra inning of major league games.

When MLB commissioner Rob Manfred introduced the ghost runner rule in 2020 — as baseball made adjustments to navigate the tricky terrain of playing through COVID-19— reactions to the change were predictably harsh.

Before ever seeing an extra-inning scenario play out with a runner automatically starting on second base, some called the rule “goofy” and “idiotic.”

Seeing it for the first time didn’t make the reactions any less extreme. When Cleveland dropped an extra-inning game to Kansas City in July 2020, Cleveland infielder Francisco Lindor said the rule was “cool” but “Little League-ish.”

Teammate Mike Clevinger was less diplomatic, calling it “the wackiest [expletive] I’ve ever seen.”

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On the other hand, Royals manager Mike Matheny, an advocate for the rule, was pleased. “I love it. I hope we do it tomorrow,” he said. He added, “I know baseball traditionalists are rolling over right now.”

No matter how much traditionalists griped, the ghost runner rule has lived to see its fourth season.

Baseball started looking into the benefits of using a ghost runner in extra innings in the minor leagues in 2018. That study, according to Baseball America, showed that 73 percent of extra-inning games were decided with just one added inning with ghost runners. Before that, only 45 percent of extra-inning games ended after just one added inning.

Those numbers have held true at the major league level.

In 2019, the last year before the ghost runner was introduced, 208 games went to extra innings. Ninety-one of them (43.8 percent) ended in the 10th, 58 (27.9 percent) went 11 innings, and 22 went 12 (10.6 percent).

Once the ghost runner made its debut in 2020, the number of games that were decided with just one extra inning jumped to 69.1 percent (47 of 68 games). Fifteen games were done after 11 innings. Only four reached 12 frames, and two more went 13. No game lasted longer.

The average time of an extra-inning game in 2019 was about four hours. In 2020, it dropped to 3 hours, 46 minutes. In 2021, it ticked up to 3:49. Last season, it dipped to 3:38. This season, with the addition of more rules aimed at speeding up the game (most notably the pitch clock), the average time of an extra-inning game is down to 3:08.

Mike Clevinger once called the ghost-runner rule "the wackiest [expletive] I've ever seen," but no MLB game has gone longer than 16 innings since 2020.

Despite some of the initial backlash, Manfred was encouraged by the change.

“I think the players like it,” Manfred said in 2020. “I think it’s really good from a safety and health perspective that keeps us from putting players in situations where they’re out there too long or in positions they’re not used to playing.”

What the ghost runner has done is essentially eliminate marathon games.

Games that stretched 15 innings or more weren’t necessarily frequent before the ghost runner, but they were far from uncommon.

In 2019, eight games went 15 innings, three went 16, one went 17, and three went 18.

The longest game that year was a 19-inning war of attrition between the Cardinals and the Diamondbacks that stretched to extras because of a tying, pinch-hit homer by Ildemaro Vargas in the ninth, and ended when Vargas singled with the bases loaded 10 innings later to deliver a 3-2 win.

That game lasted 6 hours, 53 minutes. The Diamondbacks used a franchise-record 30 players. The teams combined to use 24 pitchers. It was the longest game in Chase Field history. The game ended at 1:34 a.m., and the teams played again 11 hours later.

Since 2020, no game has gone longer than 16 innings. In the first year with automatic runners, no game went longer than 13 innings. In 2021, the Dodgers had a 16-inning staring match with the Padres and won, 5-3. Last year, the Guardians outlasted the Twins, 7-6, in 15 innings. This season, two games have gone 14 innings.

Before the ghost runner rule, the Red Sox could pencil in a marathon almost every other year. In 2019, they played 17 innings against the Twins, along with 15-inning games against the Angels and Giants. In 2017, four of their games went at least 15 innings, including a 19-inning, 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays. In 2015, they were up all night for a 19-inning game against the Yankees. In 2014, they lost a 15-inning game against the Rays and a 19-inning game against the Angels.

Since 2020, though, the Red Sox haven’t played a game longer than 12 innings. They have played six extra-inning games this season and all have ended in the 10th (they’re 3-3).

The Red Sox’ first brush with the ghost runner rule came in August 2020, when they were walked off by the Orioles, 5-4, in 10 innings. Despite the loss, then-manager Ron Roenicke said, “It was interesting. I kind of liked it.”

Martín Pérez, the Red Sox starting pitcher that day, felt differently.

“It felt weird,” he said. “I felt like we were playing Little League. But that’s the rules, and we have to follow the rules.”

The rule has shown its staying power and essentially eliminated marathon nights, the way Manfred imagined.

Julian Benbow can be reached at [email protected] .

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New MLB Rules for 2023: Everything You Need to Know

ghost runner rule baseball

From the ghost runner to the shift ban to the pitch clock and beyond, let’s talk new on-field rules and regulations in Major League Baseball for the upcoming season.

With the 2023 regular season now not so far away, Major League Baseball is shifting focus to its on-field product after an offseason in which teams spent over $3 billion on free agents alone. Commissioner Rob Manfred admitted during a recent Spring Training media engagement that this would be “the first time since 2019 that we’re going into a season where the focus is on the field and the play of the game,” he said, “which is always where we do our best.”

Well, depending on who you ask, that’s up for debate.

From banning the shift to enforcing a pitch clock and beyond, certain real and hypothetical new rules might irk baseball purists — those who take pride in insisting that the game is still truly America’s Pastime, and so forth. Elsewhere, you have others, specifically younger generations, whose attention span struggles to last the duration of a full MLB game in a league that is not immune to struggles as it relates to minting and elevating recognizable stars.

The MLB is not the only league to implement such rules to appease (allegedly) a younger generation. The NBA implemented take fouls to help speed up games and make them more exciting. The NFL instituted new means for increasing the pace of games through play clock tweaks and selective commercial breaks starting in 2017. So, ahead of the new season, which new adjustments are now the law of the land?

We’ll let you make your own assessment on the new regulations — let’s talk MLB rule changes 2023.

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MLB Rule Changes 2023: The Details

The ghost runner rule is here to stay.

MANFRED BALL! The league has confirmed that the so-called “ghost runner” rule will remain permanent. This rule, implemented in the 2020 season, gives teams a free runner on second base at the start of every necessary inning following the ninth. MLB has been quick to cite reducing injury risk — particularly teams who might be wearing out their bullpen — as reasoning for making the change permanent.

The fact of the matter here is that the league is trying to bring down game times, though the implementation of these bonus runners had little impact on matters in 2021 when the average duration of games was three hours and 11 minutes, the longest in recorded baseball history. In 2022, game times dropped to three hours and four minutes, though that can be mostly attributed to the pitch clock rule. More on that in a moment.

For what it’s worth, there were 216 MLB games that went into extra innings in 2022, down from 233 in 2021.

Pitch Clock Update

The latest MLB pitch clock rules state that pitchers have 15 seconds to throw a pitch with the bases empty and 20 seconds with a runner on base. Batters will need to be in the box at the eight-second mark. In the event that the pitcher hasn’t started his motion to deliver a pitch before the clock expires, his team will be charged with a ball. If a batter isn’t in the box at the eight-second mark, his team will be charged with a strike.

As noted, the average time of a nine-inning game in 2022 was three hours, three minutes, and 44 seconds — down nearly seven minutes from 2021’s record high. This is one of a few rules meant to decrease game times since MLB contests first began averaging over three hours consistently in 2014.

MLB Shift Ban

Ah, yes. Banning the shift in the infield presents another scenario in which players, coaches, and fans alike could all get frustrated. The new shift ban rule states that all four infielders must be on the infield dirt or grass, with two on each side of second base. Gone are the days of second basemen playing well on the far side of the bag to stop right-handed pull-hitters or infielders setting up from the outfield grass.

As Phillies relief pitcher David Robinson wondered:

“My biggest complaint about the shift is, how do you explain that to kids? What’s the point of having a shortstop if he can’t play shortstop?”

One thing about the shift ban I learned from today's MLB presentation: Teams can call in an outfielder to serve as a fifth infielder. (They cannot send an INF to the OF anymore.) Would run the risk of more easily allowing an XBH while increasing likelihood of ground ball outs. — Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) February 15, 2023

To be fair to the deeper tradition of the game, aggressive shifting arguably made baseball a positionless sport as far as infield defense is concerned. From a modern perspective, baseball is a game of strategy and offenses ought to be focused on finding ways to innovate their way through it. The latter may ultimately be true, but the general idea here is that the league wants more singles and doubles — that is, more action — rather than seeing scoreboards dominated by the concept of homer-or-bust.

Right on cue, the leaguewide batting average was down to .243 in 2022, the lowest such figure since 1968.

During the first months of the 2022 minor league season that experimented with a shift ban, left-handed hitters’ batting averages increased by eight points.

Pickoffs are a relatively simple concept to understand — a pitcher steps off the rubber to attempt to throw a player out on the base path. The new rule allows a pitcher to attempt two pickoffs; after a third, the pitcher will be charged with a balk unless one offensive player advances a base or an out is made.

The league clearly wants to see more base-stealing, a stat that was down team-by-team to just 0.51 per game in 2022 compared to 0.66 a decade ago. Experimenting with this rule worked well in the minors, as there were 24,917 stolen bases across the lower leagues in 2022 versus 20,117 in 2021.

Windups such as Luis Garcia’s are now illegal under MLB’s new balk rules pic.twitter.com/9gEOhvdgMl — Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) February 15, 2023

Bigger Bases

Relax. The increase in the size of the bases — 15 inches to 18 — should reduce injuries and increase stolen bases. There aren’t specific metrics to measure the success, but The Athetic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that stolen base attempts and success rate were both up appreciably at every level in which these larger bases have been tested.

“The bases, they’re the bases,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters. “Wait ’til you see them — they look like a pizza box, to be honest with you.”

Hey, maybe pizza boxes will entice players to steal bases more. “Steal a Base, Steal a Taco” could use an Italian cousin.

Position Players Pitching

The previous rule here allowed teams to use positional players as pitchers when they were either up or down by six runs. The new rule tweaks the figure to eight runs for the trailing team and 10 for the leading team. Per Elias, there were 32 instances of position players pitching in games in 2017, but last season, that number skyrocketed to 132.

MLB is altering the rules as to when position players can take the mound. They now can only pitch if: 👉 the leading team is up by 10+ in 9th inning or 👉 the trailing team is down by 8+ anytime or 👉 the game goes into extra innings (via @JesseRogersESPN ) cc: @PitchingNinja pic.twitter.com/B5VjO1dl9K — Codify (@CodifyBaseball) February 13, 2023

A Final Word

There does need to be some sort of compromise between purists and the younger generation. NBA games are shorter by comparison and that league only plays 82 regular season games. NFL games are roughly just over three hours on average for a 17-game regular season. Baseball is already a slower-paced game by design; combining that fact with a 162-game regular season and four rounds of postseason ball creates challenges — as well as opportunities — in perfecting the overall formula in service to fans.

After all, those MLB TV ratings aren’t going to fix themselves — the 2022 World Series generated the Fall Classic’s second-lowest TV audience ever. This year’s new regulations are going to take some adjusting to, but a forward-thinking, progressive approach might be best for baseball to decrease game times and boost engagement and excitement while reducing injury risk across the board.

ghost runner rule baseball

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ghost runner rule baseball

MLB makes 'ghost runner' rule permanent for 2023 season

The days of baseball games lasting well into the night are officially over.

Jesse Rogers of ESPN reported Monday that MLB's Joint Competition Committee unanimously voted to make the extra-inning rule permanent for all regular-season games this year and in the future.

Breaking: MLB’s Joint Competition Committee has voted unanimously to make the extra inning rule permanent for all regular season games moving forward. (2023 and beyond). A runner will be placed at second base at the start of every extra inning. Story coming at espy — Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) February 13, 2023

The "ghost runner" rule, as it's more commonly known, places a free runner at second base at the start of each half-inning during extras. It was introduced in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season to protect pitchers from injury and operated temporarily year-to-year in 2021 and 2022. 

Since its implementation, the rule has largely been effective. Last year, only 11 games lasted 13 innings or longer, and none lasted longer than 15, as The Athletic 's Evan Drellich and Eno Sarris mentioned. 

On Aug. 25, 2021, the Dodgers beat the Padres in 16 innings , the longest game with the rule in effect. The game lasted five hours, and 49 minutes, with 489 pitches thrown by 19 different pitchers, per ESPN. 

According to Rogers, the committee also voted unanimously to alter the rule permitting position players to pitch. In the past, position players could pitch when their team led or trailed by six runs or more. 

Leading teams now must lead by at least 10 runs for position players to pitch. When a team is trailing by eight runs or more, a position player may take the mound. In extra innings, position players can pitch regardless of the score.

These are just two of MLB's several rule changes this season . 

The infield shift is banned, and pitchers will work under a 15-second pitch clock when bases are empty and 20 seconds with runners on base. Pitchers will also have limited pickoff attempts.

Bases will switch to 18-inch squares rather than 15-inch squares, cutting the distance between bases by 4.5 inches.

The new MLB base size is SIGNIFICANTLY bigger. pic.twitter.com/JanJGCIyFL — Dan Clark (@DanClarkSports) March 8, 2022

A new schedule change is also in place. All 30 teams will play each other at least once in 2023 , and interleague play will no longer rotate divisions.

Traditionalists may not agree with all or most of the new rules, but that's the direction MLB has been headed for some time now. While specific rule changes have taken away an aspect of the game, such as the three-batter minimum, most of MLB's changes have been positive. 

In terms of player safety, roster decisions and effective time management, the "ghost runner" is a valuable addition to the regular season. 

From a competitive standpoint, however, it would be better if the rule started in the 11th inning, giving both teams one more "real" inning to play. 

Spring training will be the first opportunity to see how the new rules affect the game.

More must-reads:

  • MLB’s Joint Competition Committee approves new rules
  • Everything To Know About New MLB Rules For 2023 Season
  • The 'NBA scoring champions' quiz

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What is the ‘ghost runner’ rule in Major League Baseball?

Baseball has made more changes in the last ten years than in the previous two centuries, but few have raised the fans’ ire like the phantom base runner. so why are they keeping it.

Jeffrey May

The beauty of baseball is in its simplicity, its fairness. One man with a ball tries to throw it past one man with a stick. You get three shots at it and they have to be hittable balls. No running out the clock. No rolling the ball in the dirt. It is even and fair .

This is perhaps what has irked so many about the analytics era of the game. While studying numbers to look for an edge is not in itself untoward, there is a gut feeling that attempting to somehow turn the tables on the house is, well… dirty. Something gamblers would do. It just is not baseball .

In an effort to speed the game up, Rob Manfred, that almost-universally despised commissioner who has wreaked more havoc on the game than any other of his predecessors , instituted a slew of changes to our beloved game. Pitch clocks and pickoff limits are anathema, but the phantom baserunner, the so-called Manfred Man , is the one that fans hate the most.

MLB's Joint Competition Committee has voted to make the "ghost runner" extra inning rule permanent for all regular season games, per @JesseRogersESPN pic.twitter.com/OoHbfCRY46 — B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) February 13, 2023

But what is the “ghost runner” in baseball?

Sneaked in during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. The rule, for those who don’t know, places a base runner on second base to start each inning beyond the ninth inning during the regular season. No need at bats nor strikes taken, jut walk and collet 200, as if playing monopoly.

The rule is not a fan favortie. The main reason is that it is almost impossible not to score a runner on second with nobody out. Simply bunt him over to third and hit a sac fly to the outfield. Done . Any ball hit through the infield gets him around as well. In order to NOT score in that situation, a team would have to work pretty hard.

Players and coaches don’t mind it so much.

A single game during the regular season has little meaning, and so they will be thinking about getting done with it and resting for tomorrow . Not to mention the implications that it has on your bullpen, with middle relievers and closers being asked to throw perhaps double the number of pitches as they normally do.

Phillies manager Rob Thomson says he’s glad that MLB expects to keep the ghost runner/extra-inning rule in 2023 and beyond — Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 31, 2022

The rule is not applicable to the post season, so the feeling is that it will generally be unremarkable. Until it impacts a tight Wild Card race, the league would seem to be in favor of getting the game finished quickly , and fairness be damned.

So after its temporary implementation, the 11-person competition committee voted to make the Manfred Man a permanent fixture in the baseball . Although the competition committee is made up of six ownership reps, four player reps, and one umpire; only five people have any skin in the game, and can be over ruled by ownership at any time; it must be pointed out that this rule implementation was unanimously approved.

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Mlb playoffs: what are the extra innings rules for 2022 in world series, share this article.

ghost runner rule baseball

It’s the rule you love to hate (or maybe you love it! Which is fine!) in Major League Baseball: When teams reached extra innings in 2022, a runner was automatically put on second base to start the 10th and onwards, shortening games.

It’s known as the “ghost runner” rule.

So if you’re here, you might wonder: Will there be a runner on second when the team you’re rooting for starts off extra innings in the playoffs?

The answer is: NO.

That’s only a regular-season rule that won’t be used in the postseason. So it’s possible we end up with some long playoff games that last many extra innings.

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Legion Report

Ghost Runner Rule Baseball: A Concise Guide for Fans

ghost runner rule baseball

The Ghost Runner Rule is a noteworthy adaptation in Major League Baseball, which has made an impact on how extra innings are played in regular-season games.

Initially implemented during the coronavirus pandemic as a temporary measure, this rule quickly gained traction and was eventually made permanent in 2023.

It has sparked various opinions throughout the sports world, making it a topic worth exploring for both avid fans and casual followers of baseball alike.

This rule, officially known as “placing a runner on second base at the start of each half-inning during extra innings,” was unanimously adopted by MLB’s 11-person competition committee to help shorten the length of games and reduce potential player fatigue.

While some purists argue that it alters the traditional spirit of the game, others have embraced it for its strategic implications and the excitement it adds to closely contested matchups.

As baseball continues to evolve, the Ghost Runner Rule serves as a prominent example of how the sport adapts to modern challenges and the changing preferences of its fans.

Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

Runner on second base, umpire decisions, use of position players as pitchers, comparison with previous extra-innings rules, permanent rules change, temporary measure for postseason, extra-innings rule and home advantage, ghost runner rule: origin and purpose.

The Ghost Runner Rule in Major League Baseball (MLB) was initially implemented as a response to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. The primary objective of this rule was to reduce the risk of virus exposure by shortening games that went into extra innings.

MLB introduced this rule during the height of the pandemic as part of safety and protocol guidelines.

Under the Ghost Runner Rule, every regular-season half-inning in extra innings would automatically start with a runner on second base.

This allowed games to potentially conclude faster, thus minimizing the contact time between players on the field.

The rule eventually evolved to become known as the Manfred Man after baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, and it was unanimously adopted by the sport’s 11-person competition committee.

The Ghost Runner Rule aimed not only to limit virus exposure but also to reduce injuries and potentially speed up extra-inning games.

The Ghost Runner Rule’s implementation in MLB marked a significant change in the way extra innings were handled, with a focus on prioritizing player safety during the challenging times brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Basic Concept and Mechanics of Ghost Runner Rule

The Ghost Runner Rule, also known as the Invisible Runner Rule, is a unique concept in baseball-style games, including softball, stickball, and kickball, typically employed when a team does not have enough players .

In Major League Baseball, this rule has been adapted for extra innings to add excitement and speed up the game .

According to the rule, at the beginning of each half-inning after the ninth, a designated runner is placed on second base .

This runner is determined by designating the hitter in the batting order before that hitter comes up to bat .  If a team scores with their designated runner, it counts as an official run 3 .

The designated runner is the hitter that precedes the current batter in the batting order .

In other words, the player who batted last in the previous inning would be the designated runner on second base .

The umpire has to ensure that the correct player is assigned as the designated runner to maintain fairness in the game.

Umpires are also responsible for monitoring any potential misuse or confusion arising from the Ghost Runner Rule.

For instance, they need to ensure that the pitcher and catcher are not deliberately throwing wild pitches or passed balls to gain an unfair advantage .

In conclusion, the Ghost Runner Rule is an exciting aspect of baseball, which adds an extra layer of strategy and excitement to extra innings. By understanding the basic concepts and mechanics of this rule, fans, players, and umpires can better appreciate its impact on the game.

As a part of the unanimous adoption of the Ghost Runner Rule by the sport’s 11-person competition committee , the use of position players as pitchers was also tightened. This change aims to maintain the integrity of the game and focus on the skills of actual pitchers in crucial situations.

The Ghost Runner Rule has not only affected the outcome of games but also shifted how MLB teams strategize in extra innings. With the permanent implementation of the rule in the 2023 season, it remains to be seen how teams adjust and continue to adapt to this change in baseball gameplay.

Before the implementation of the ghost runner rule, MLB extra-inning games continued with the standard format, proceeding one inning at a time with no runners starting on base.

The ghost runner rule was introduced as a temporary measure during the coronavirus pandemic and has now been made permanent for regular-season games by Major League Baseball, starting in 2022 1 .

The new ghost runner rule places a runner on second base at the beginning of each extra inning, increasing the likelihood of teams scoring and ending the game more quickly.

The rule change has also led to a reduction in the overall percentage of regular-season games that go into extra innings. Historically, about 10 percent of regular-season games entered extra innings , while in recent years, this figure has dropped to around 9.2 percent 4 .

Another aspect of the new rule concerns the use of position players as pitchers.

Previously, there were fewer restrictions on which players could pitch in extra innings. However, the MLB competition committee has now limited the use of position players as pitchers to only extra innings, or for a leading team when they are ahead by 10 or more runs in the ninth inning

While the ghost runner rule has received a mix of support and criticism from fans and players, it seems that the MLB has decided to continue with the change, aiming for enhanced excitement, reduced game times, and player safety during the course of the regular season.

Vanderbilt just won in 17 innings. I love long baseball games like this. It’s what makes the sport great… every team at its best just battling it out. The ghost runner on second rule is for the birds. pic.twitter.com/BfiJ8qrbDB — Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) March 9, 2023

The permanent implementation of the “Ghost Runner” rule in Major League Baseball (MLB) has had noticeable effects on various elements of the game, particularly on records and statistics.

This rule, which places a runner on second base at the start of each extra inning, was introduced during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and has been made permanent after being used temporarily in 2021 and 2022.

One of the most significant impacts of this rule is the reduction in the length of games that go into extra innings. Historically, approximately 10% of MLB regular-season games have gone to extra innings.

With the “Ghost Runner” rule in place, the chances of these games extending for several additional innings are considerably reduced, as the rule is designed to expedite the games’ conclusion.

This change in the game’s dynamics has affected MLB records associated with the longest games in terms of innings and duration. The Elias Sports Bureau, the official statistician for MLB, may find fewer entries for extreme game lengths to evaluate under this new rule.

The longest game in MLB history was a 25-inning affair between the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers in 1984. With the “Ghost Runner” rule, it becomes less likely that any future games will challenge this record.

Some statistics related to pitching and hitting performance in extra innings have also been affected by the “Ghost Runner” rule. For example:

  • Pitching : The number of extra innings pitched may decrease, impacting relievers’ statistics such as “saves” and “blown saves” in extra innings situations. Additionally, earned run averages (ERA) might be influenced, as pitchers may now be more likely to give up the “Ghost Runner” run, which does not count as an earned run.
  • Hitting : The opportunity for clutch hits and “walk-off” scenarios increases as teams often begin extra innings with a runner in scoring position. This may lead to a rise in runs batted in (RBI) and batting average with runners in scoring position (RISP) during extra innings, potentially altering historical comparisons of these offensive statistics.

In summary, the “Ghost Runner” rule has had a noteworthy influence on MLB records and statistics. As the rule continues to be a part of the game, baseball analysts and statisticians will need to consider these impacts when evaluating player performance and comparing historical data.

Potential Future of Ghost Runner Rule

The Ghost Runner Rule has been a topic of discussion in Major League Baseball (MLB) since its introduction during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

The rule, which places a runner on second base at the start of each half-inning in extra innings, was recently made permanent for the regular season by MLB’s Joint Competition Committee .

This decision comes after three seasons of use, and it seems that the rule is here to stay in MLB’s regular season games.

MLB Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has been a proponent of this rule, as it was implemented to reduce the length of games and promote a quicker resolution .

Furthermore, keeping the Ghost Runner Rule in MLB regular season games can help maintain a consistent experience for fans and players alike, as they have grown accustomed to the rule over the past few seasons.

While the Ghost Runner Rule is now permanent for the regular season, its future in the postseason remains uncertain.

There has been no word from Manfred or the Joint Competition Committee on whether the rule will be applied during playoff games.

It is possible that the rule may be considered a temporary measure for the postseason, as playoff games often carry more weight and require teams to employ different strategies compared to regular season games.

In conclusion, the Ghost Runner Rule’s permanency in the regular season is now established. However, its future in the postseason is yet to be determined, and further discussions by MLB officials will likely ensue to decide its potential application during playoff games.

Controversies and Criticisms

The Ghost Runner Rule, first implemented in the shortened 2020 MLB season, has been met with mixed reactions from fans, players, and the baseball community at large.

While it was designed to reduce marathon extra-inning games, critics argue that it detracts from the traditional essence of baseball and may lead to unfair outcomes.

One of the main concerns surrounding the Ghost Runner Rule is that it can give the winning team an unfair advantage. In scenarios where a game is won by 10 or more runs, some argue that automatically placing a runner on second base may contribute to a lopsided victory, further demoralizing the losing team.

Conversely, teams that are already trailing by eight or more runs may feel that the Ghost Runner Rule further stacks the odds against them in their attempt to make a comeback.

Additionally, critics highlight the use of position players as pitchers under the new rule changes.

The utilization of players in pitching roles, outside of their traditional positions, draws scrutiny because it can lead to inconsistent performances on the mound and a reliance on unskilled pitchers.

This approach may also increase the risk of injuries, as position players are not trained or conditioned to perform the unique demands of pitching.

Despite the MLB Joint Competition Committee unanimously voting in favor of making the Ghost Runner Rule permanent, a significant portion of baseball fans and industry insiders maintain that the tradition and competitive balance of the sport are being compromised.

As the rule continues to be a part of the game, discussions, debates, and criticisms around its impact on baseball are expected to persist.

The Ghost Runner Rule in baseball , also known as the extra-inning tiebreaker rule, was first implemented during the 2020 season as a pandemic measure and has since been made permanent by Major League Baseball.

This rule places a runner automatically at second base at the beginning of each extra inning.

Home teams have typically been considered to have an advantage in extra-inning scenarios.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, home teams went 113-103 in extra-inning games last year and are 262-263 in extra innings since the runner on second rule started in 2020.

Comparatively, home teams were 312-294 in extra-inning games between 2017 and 2019, before the Ghost Runner Rule was implemented. These statistics indicate that home field advantage in extra innings has remained relatively consistent since the rule’s introduction.

The Ghost Runner Rule aims to shorten the duration of extra-inning games by increasing the likelihood of runs being scored, which in turn can potentially reduce the impact of chance factors such as umpire calls and player fatigue.

Critics argue that the rule might distort the traditional strategies and gameplay elements of the sport. However, MLB’s decision to make the rule permanent suggests its confidence in maintaining the competitive spirit of the game without unduly affecting the outcomes for home teams.

IMAGES

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  23. Ghost Runner Rule Baseball: A Concise Guide for Fans

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