In an effort to reduce the length of extra-inning games for the 2020 season, Major League teams now begin each extra inning with a runner on second base. While brand new to MLB, this rule has been a part of MiLB for several years. The new addition is also part
In an effort to reduce the length of extra-inning games for the 2020 season, Major League teams now begin each extra inning with a runner on second base. While brand new to MLB, this rule has been a part of MiLB for several years. The new addition is also part of an effort to bring even more excitement to the game of baseball.
This extra thrill has been taking place since 2018 with the Charlotte Knights. Implemented by MLB into the Minor Leagues, the 2018 season began with the new rule in place for all MiLB games. The Minor League Baseball Extra Inning Rule states the following:
At all levels of Minor League Baseball, extra innings will begin with a runner on second base. The runner at second base will be the player in the batting order position previous to the leadoff batter of the inning (or a substitute for that player). By way of example, if the number five hitter in the batting order is due to lead off the 10th inning, the number four player in the batting order (or a pinch-runner for such player) shall begin the inning on second base. Any runner or batter removed from the game for a substitute shall be ineligible to return to the game, as is the case in all circumstances under the Official Baseball Rules.
The concept for this rule was first used in the World Baseball Classic and tested in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast and Arizona Leagues in 2017 before being used in all levels of MiLB in 2018. When asked about the Minor League Baseball Extra-Inning Rule being tested in 2017, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred replied, “We don’t really expect that we’re ever going to [start extra innings with a runner on second base] at the Major League level.” Then, 2020 happened.
The Major League Baseball Extra Inning Rule is identical to the Minor League rule used since 2018. One footnote to the rule was clarified for MLB this season: if a pitcher was the last batter to make an out in the previous inning in the batting order, then the runner on second base will be the previous batter before the pitcher in the order.
MiLB and Knights fans have seen this new rule played out for the past two seasons. However, for those who may have missed witnessing the Extra-Inning Rule, see below for an exciting example that played out on August 14, 2019 at Truist Field (formerly BB&T Ballpark) in Uptown Charlotte.
The Charlotte Knights entered the bottom of the ninth inning trailing the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, 12-10. The high-scoring affair featured back-to-back home runs from Charlotte’s Zack Collins and Yermin Mercedes in the bottom of the 8th, to bring Charlotte within two runs of the RailRiders. A bases-loaded walk to Collins with two outs in the bottom of the ninth tied the game 12-12 for the Knights. The RailRiders began the top of the tenth inning by having a runner placed at second base. Knights pitcher Juan Minaya allowed a walk with one out and the RailRiders quickly made a double steal putting runners on third and second base. Minaya, however, was able to strike out the next two batters to keep the game tied. In the bottom of the tenth, the Knights also started with a runner on second base. After a strikeout and line-out, Knights outfielder Charlie Tilson hit a two-out single to left and pinch-runner Paulo Orlando was able score from second base with an arm-stretched slide under the tag at home plate for the winning run!
According to Baseball America, 73% of MiLB extra-inning games ended in the tenth inning since 2018 and the implementation of the Extra Inning Rule. From 2016-2017, only 45% of MiLB extra-inning games ended in the tenth inning. While the rule does keep extra-inning games from extending into the late nights, it also brings more baseball action and a higher level of fan participation to the extra innings.
MLB players and managers have had mixed reactions to the new Extra-Inning Rule in 2020. Of course, pitchers are not keen to the extra base runner. On the flip-side, Kansas City Royals manager Mike Matheny said, “I love it. I know I have been a proponent for [the Extra-Inning Rule], and I know baseball traditionalists are rolling over right now.”
The Major League Baseball Extra-Inning Rule is currently only in place for the 2020 season with no set plans to continue the rule for the 2021 MLB season or their near future. But MiLB and Knights fans can still enjoy the added excitement as the Extra-Inning Rule remains in place for our 2021 and coming seasons.
If you would like to be a part of the excitement, stay tuned to the Charlotte Knights for upcoming announcements regarding our 2021 season!