2023 World Baseball Classic: Why second runner is used in extra innings but not other new MLB rule changes

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The 2023 World Baseball Classic kicked into high gear Saturday as Pools C and D got underway. (Team USA, who we’re reluctant to repeat as champions, play Great Britain tonight.) Most of the previous games were played either late at night or early in the morning, meaning countless American viewers got their first taste of Extra -Inning action at this WBC as Colombia and Mexico needed a 10th frame on Saturday afternoon. (Colombia, for those wondering, won a 5-4 thriller.)

If you were one of those people, you may have wondered why the zombie runner — that is, the automatic runner placed at second base to start extra innings — was used. Finally, other recent additions to Major League Baseball’s rulebook, such as the pitch timer and defensive shift restrictions, will not be used in this tournament. So why was the Manfred man (named after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred) in the game?

The technical answer is simple: The WBC will be played under the official 2022 baseball rules, with a few exceptions. For example, there is no limit to the number of hill visits each team undertakes. The less technical answer is that international baseball settings have been experimenting with automatic runners for much longer than they were part of MLB. In fact, the 2017 WBC toyed with placing runners first And second base starting the 11th inning. So having only one runner in extra innings in this tournament is actually a more conservative approach.

Using automatic runners is a sensible decision for international baseball settings. Keep in mind that WBC teams are limited in how much they are allowed to use pitchers to prevent injury and/or unnecessary wear. Lengthy extra-inning games are undesirable in these settings, although they also happen to be entertaining to watch.

The use of the automatic runner is an attempt to bridge the gap between a traditional conclusion to these games and a draw or other gimmicky ending. Whether or not it achieves that goal is of course up for debate, but the logic behind the implementation is solid enough.

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