Well, that didn’t take long. One of the greatest presidents in Major League Baseball history, with a love for baseball, will join MLB’s Commissioner’s Office to assist with advancing the game on the field.
According to 670 The Score’s Baseball Insider Bruce Levine, the league is expected to announce the news this afternoon.
Breaking news -Theo Epstein will join the commissioners office as a consultant regarding on field matters. MLB will announce today.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) January 14, 2021
Epstein’s New Role Explained
Theo Epstein was a pioneer in using advanced analytics on the field, and while there were positives to come out of the advancement, the game also began to suffer.
In November of 2020, Epstein eluded to the “threats” to baseball’s evolution, that he and other owners created unintentionally, by studying individual and team performances to a certain level. In other words, the advanced science of baseball has created too many strikeouts and fewer balls in play.
Theo Epstein said he was interested in a baseball job that allows him to help address some of more existential threats to the game. So I asked him what he thinks those are: pic.twitter.com/3yjdKvatGF
— Hannah Keyser (@HannahRKeyser) November 17, 2020
In his closing press conference with the Cubs, Epstein called baseball “the greatest game in the world.” This is a perfect opportunity for him to begin implementing ideas to change rules (*cough cough* DH for both leagues) that can bring baseball down a different path that benefits teams and fans.
What Needs To Change In Baseball
First off, baseball is in a bad place right now. Fans are aging, Rob Manfred is not representing the game the way a leader should, and there is less excitement surrounding the sport.
If you’ve watched baseball over the last three seasons specifically, you’d notice pitchers like Jacob DeGrom, Justin Verlander, Yu Darvish, and Gerrit Cole striking out world-class talent at a level we’ve never seen. While it is fun to see pitching advance the way that it has, there are many reports of pitchers like Trevor Bauer and Cole “doctoring” the ball with substances to help with their crazy high spin rates.
Not only does this take away from the integrity of the game, but it also gives a lopsided advantage to pitchers throwing the ball close to 100MPH.
As strikeout rates continue to soar, the in-game managing part of baseball (stealing bases, tagging-up, etc.) becomes much less apparent. Theo has mentioned this a couple of times and now has a chance to do something about it.
Specific Rule Changes To Consider
1) Universal Designated Hitter
Enough of the “let’s watch pitchers hit because it takes away from the managing part of baseball.” This is a league for fans to watch the best talent in the world do what they’re best at. You wouldn’t ask a five-star chef to focus on washing dishes and cooking, would you? That and there needs to be uniformity between the American and National League.
2) Moving The Mound Back
Velocity and spin rates are increasing season after season as we begin to learn more about the science of pitching. The mound sits 60 feet and 6 inches from home plate, and it’s time to consider moving it back to 61 feet. Not only does this give batters a legitimate chance to perform, but it will also give the fans what they want and make the game more exciting.
3) Expand Instant Replay
Managers, players, umpires, and fans all want this to happen. With the amount of technology this society has, there is no reason to not use it to uphold the integrity of the game, by making the correct calls. That includes the strike zone too.