The Importance of Understanding MLB Rules
In baseball, each team consists of nine players, and a regular game lasts nine innings. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins.
For a run to be recorded, a batter must run around the bases and contact the home plate. Either a hit or a walk will allow a player to advance to first base.
The umpires are responsible for calling all balls and strikes, determining who gets out, and managing the overall gameplay.
As most of you know, any sport has many intricate rules. So, let’s go over all the details and discuss any new MLB rules, so you know what to expect when betting on baseball.
MLB – What is the Main Objective?
The primary goal of every MLB game, regardless of the rules in place, is for one side to get more runs than the other side. This central objective will continue unchanged over time.
When a runner crosses the home plate after touching all three bases, that counts as one run. Runs in baseball are achieved in a number of ways.
Multiple hits from the team allow runners to advance one base at a time. Secondly, doubles and triples are common, so runners in front of the batter can score easily as they move around the bases.
The other method is when batters hit home runs and every runner on base scores.
Roles, Scoring Runs & Pitch Size
Baseball, like many other popular US sports, has pivotal roles that can influence the outcome of games.
Pitchers get a lot of credit for being the game’s deciding factor because of their ability to fool the other team into making mistakes. Nevertheless, baseball is, at its core, a team sport.
- Pitcher – The pitcher is responsible for delivering the ball to the hitter inside the strike zone.
- Catcher – The catcher’s job is to catch the ball thrown by the pitcher and to communicate strategies to the pitcher.
- Infield – Infielders are responsible for handling ground balls, catching pop-ups, and throwing out hitters.
- Outfield – Outfielders are responsible for catching and returning the ball to the infielders as fast as possible.
How to Score
Earlier, we established that successfully crossing the home plate equals one run in baseball. The MLB rules specify a number of elements that impact batters and runners as they hit and run through the infield bases.
Strikes can be counted in three different ways:
- The pitcher throws a ball in the strike zone, but the batter misses it.
- The hitter misses the pitch, regardless of the strike zone.
- The batter swings for and hits a foul ball.
When in bat, each player aims to reach first base safely and avoid getting called on a “strikeout” (three strikes).
According to MLB rules, any pitch that does not fulfill the specified strike criteria is a fair ball. Any time a pitcher throws four balls without getting a strike, the batter is automatically awarded first base.
The plate umpire is responsible for determining whether or not a ball is fairly played.
To get on base, the batter must put the ball in play by hitting it legally. Hits can be described in four different ways.
- Single – With a single, the batter advances to first base.
- Double – The batter gets around both first and second bases for a double.
- Triple – The batter who completes a triple advances through three bases.
- Home Run – A batter strikes the ball over the outfield wall or runs all bases for one run.
Getting Called Out
When a batter is unable to advance safely across the bases during his turn, it is considered an out. There are a variety of ways this might arise:
- Strikeout (three strikes)
- Grounding Out (batter fails to get to first base)
- Flyout (high balls that are caught by fielders)
- Lineout (well-hit balls that are caught by fielders)
MLB Playing Field
The infield and outfield are separated by the field’s distinctive ice cream cone shape. The following is a summary of both areas:
Infield – In reality, the infield is more like a square. Six out of the nine roles for the team play on this dirt surface. The group consists of the pitcher, catcher, first base, second base, third base, and shortstop.
Outfield – Between the infield and the outfield fence lies what is known as “the outfield.” All three remaining players – left field, right field, and the primary center fielder – play on grass in this area.
MLB Gameplay Fouls & Penalties
Depending on the severity of the offense, players may be removed from the field, get called out, or move up a base.
According to MLB rules, umpires are tasked with deciding whether or not a player or coach has committed a foul. Some typical violations are:
- Unsportsmanlike behavior
- Charging the mound
Game Time & MLB Playoffs Rules
The MLB rules state that there is no specific limit on the length of any baseball game. In general, you can expect the game to last around three hours, although additional innings are sometimes necessary to call the winner.
All the latest rules surrounding this are detailed further below in our MLB rules guide. For now, let’s explain the official regulations linked to the overtime and MLB playoffs rules.
MLB Overtime Rules
Each regular season game in the MLB will advance to extra innings if the score is tied after the initial nine innings.
The winning team is the one who leads the score after both halves of the extra inning have been played out.
This process continues if the score is level until one team is declared the winner. One important detail is that the home team will win if they score the winning go-ahead run during the additional overtime innings.
“The go-ahead run is the run that gives a team that was trailing or tied the lead.”
MLB Playoffs Rules
Fortunately, things are straightforward in baseball, meaning the MLB playoffs rules follow the same way as the regular season overtime rules. To summarize, additional innings will be played until one team is ahead.
MLB Rules for Players & Coaches
The maximum number of players for a Major League Baseball club is forty. Each squad must have a minimum of twenty-five players on its 26-man active roster.
This typically consists of 13–14 position players, with pitchers filling the remaining positions. It includes both starting pitchers and those in the bullpen.
MLB Teams are free to determine how they want to divide their 25 roster spots among themselves.
The MLB rules also demand that teams complete their official 40-man rosters following each Spring Training.
In the event of injuries or other game-related events, the remaining players can be moved to Minor League clubs. As the season progresses, the roster grows.
It can reach a maximum of 28 players for active duty or 29 for extra busy schedules in the last month.
MLB Challenge Rules for Coaches
Changes to the MLB challenge rules system are usually controversial. But as it stands, it is fairly simple to understand.
In most games, including All-Star Games, certain playoff games, Wild Card games, and any Divisional games, each team receives two manager challenges. One manager challenge is included in all other MLB games.
MLB Trading Rules
At the start of the regular season in August, player trades are permitted under the most recent MLB rules.
The 31st of July used to be the hard deadline, but that has varied in recent years. These days, the due date for MLB trades often falls between the end of July and the beginning of August.
New MLB Rules
New MLB rules mandate the use of timers to speed up play. You can also see updates to defensive shapes that help boost the average number of balls in play. Additionally, larger bases have grown from 15 to 18 inches.
However, the MLB rules indicate that the home plate will remain the same size for now.
The MLB playoffs rules have recently undergone a few adjustments. There are now 12 teams participating in the knockout-style event, up from the previous ten teams.
This essentially gives more teams a chance to compete for a spot in postseason matches.
Standout Rule Changes
- All MLB batters have been legally required to wear helmets since 1971.
- Catchers have been required to wear protection since 1988.
- Chase Otley Rule was influenced by the need for more player safety in 2016.
Other Essential MLB Rules to Remember
Other significant MLB betting factors include awareness of the influence that umpires have during the game and the MLB’s latest equipment rules.
The home plate umpire is responsible for making some of the most important calls in MLB games, including strikes and balls.
Located just behind the catcher, this umpire gets a great view of the action at home plate. He also keeps an eye on close plays around the plate.
There are two more umpires who play crucial roles in maintaining order on the field. Batted balls are reviewed by these referees stationed at the left and right field foul lines.
They are also responsible for deciding whether a player is good or out at each of their assigned bases.
Baseball has more extensive equipment needs than the majority of American sports. Here we have compiled a list of the necessary baseball equipment as specified by MLB rules:
- Secure helmets
- Protective gear
- Catcher gloves
- Fielding gloves
- Correct footwear