The Cleveland Guardians are going to be in a battle for the AL Central. Major League Baseball’s rule changes for the 2023 season may be a difference maker.
According to fivethirtyeight.com and their new MANFRED metric, the Guardians are projected to gain the most from the focus on pace of play, larger bases, and the lack of a shift. Meanwhile, their closest competitors, the Twins and White Sox, are expected to be negatively impacted.
MLB may have handed Cleveland Guardians an advantage
The MANFRED metric stands for Metric for Assessing Negative or Favorable Rule-Effect Dynamics. Essentially, this ranks how each team fared in terms of pitch tempo, shift frequency, and sprint speed. Teams are awarded points for a quicker pace, not shifting as much, and for their speed. Conversely, teams are penalized for slowing the game down, not running as fast, and relying on the shift.
The Guardians are the type of team that were essentially built for this style of play. Their offense is predicated on putting the ball in play and having the speed to cause havoc. An excellent defense allows them to still get to those grounders pulled into right without the shift. The Guardians will be fine heading into 2023.
It is also possible that the Guardians will prove to be ahead of the curve. Success leads to imitation and teams are going to look for ways to use these rules to their advantage. If the Guardians do have as much success as they are expected to in 2023, there may be another revival of the speed/defense/contact teams from yesterday.
The Cleveland Guardians are expected to benefit from MLB’s new rules. That could be the difference in a competitive AL Central.