2022 MLB Opening Day: Baseball Is Back Along With Multiple Rule Changes

by Chris Haney

Baseball fans are rejoicing across the country today for what has become an unofficial national holiday over the years. The new MLB season has finally arrived as Opening Day 2022 kicks off the year for almost half the teams in the league.

After a tumultuous offseason and an MLB lockout that lasted months, many wondered if we’d have a baseball season at all. At a minimum, many assumed league officials would shorten the season since negotiations between owners and players failed repeatedly. However, the two sides signed off on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) just in time as to not interrupt the new season. Teams will play a full 162-game schedule per usual to the relief of millions of baseball fans.

While we all want to simply get back to watching great baseball, the new CBA included numerous rule changes that fans need to know about. Many of the rule changes are altering the way the game will be played going forward. Most fans have likely heard about the new universal designated hitter rule. Neither AL or NL pitchers will bat in either league now, but there’s many more rules to go over. We’ve got you covered with a quick breakdown of the main rule changes for 2022 MLB Opening Day and beyond.

Quick List of Rule Changes

  • Universal DH across both leagues
  • The ‘Ohtani Rule’
  • Ghost runners on 2nd base are back in extra innings
  • Expanded postseason
  • A home run derby will decide All-Star game winner instead of extra innings
  • New draft lottery
  • Oversized bases for 2023
  • Defensive shifts will be banned starting next year
  • Pitch clocks will be utilized in 2023

Major Rule Changes for 2022 MLB Opening Day

Universal DH

MLB Opening Day is here, and along with it we’ve got numerous rule changes. A universal designated hitter making its way into the NL instead of only being used in the AL isn’t a new idea. The rule has been discussed at length for years, but baseball purists have fought back against its inevitable implementation. As of the 2022 season though, baseball fans that were against it will have to suck it up and get used to it. The league is hell-bent on increasing offensive production to drive up run counts and make the game more exciting. We’ll get our first full season of the universal DH this year, so we’ll finally see how it impacts the game across the board.

The ‘Ohtani Rule’

Japanese dual-threat talent Shohei Ohtani has been a revelation in baseball since arriving in the States. As both a pitcher, outfielder, and designated hitter, he’s made the league take notice of a certain DH rule that has now been altered. Previously, once pitchers were pulled from the game, their day was done. Now, the new ‘Ohtani Rule’ allows pitchers to continue batting as a DH even after they come off the mound.

Ghost Runners On 2nd Base Are Back

In an attempt to shorten games and decrease pitchers’ workload, MLB officials have implemented ghost runners once again. The automatic runner is placed on second base at the beginning of any game that goes to extra innings. However, as of now, the rule will only continue for the 2022 season and will be removed next year.

Expanded Postseason

The MLB has always had the longest season in sports with its 162-game schedule. On the other hand, baseball has also always had one of the smallest playoffs by the amount of teams that make it to the postseason. Owners made a seven-team proposal for each league, but they had to settle for six teams each from the NL and AL. Not including the Wild Card teams, that means the first round has been bumped up to 12 teams compared to the previous eight.

Home Run Derby as the All-Star Game Tiebreaker

This is a great new rule that should be exciting news for MLB fans. From now on, if the All-Star game is tied after nine innings, extra innings are a thing of the past. Instead, the game will be decided by a home run derby. Players won’t gas themselves playing unnecessary extra innings that can go on and on. Plus fans get to see more dingers. Everybody wins.

The MLB Draft Will Use a Lottery System

In an attempt to keep teams from tanking, players fought hard to address the issue during recent CBA talks. Starting with the 2023 MLB Draft, the first six picks will be decided by a lottery. All 18 teams that didn’t make it to the playoffs qualify for the lottery draw. Similar to the NBA Draft lottery, teams with the worst records will have higher odds to earn a lottery pick, but it doesn’t guarantee them the first overall pick.

Oversized Bases On All Fields (2023)

The last few rule changes were agreed upon in the most recent CBA deal, but will not be implemented until next season in 2023. The league will use larger bases in an attempt to prevent injuries around the first base bag. They also hope the move will increase stolen base attempts and make it easier for umpires to call plays at each base.

Defensive Shifts Banned (2023)

Once again, MLB officials want to speed up the game and create more offense while trying to bring more excitement to the game of baseball. One more way they’re looking to do so is in banning defensive shifts. Teams often zeroed in on players’ batting habits and where they hit the ball. Opposing teams took advantage of the analytics and would shift their defense to the left or right according to a batters’ habits. The new ban on shifts takes that option away and opens up play a bit more, but the ban doesn’t begin until 2023.

Pitch Clocks (2023)

This isn’t the first time baseball has tested out pitch clocks. In fact, officials have experimented with the pitch clocks at multiple levels of organized baseball, just not in the MLB. Until next season that is. The league is planning on a 14-second pitch clock when the bases are empty. When runners are on base, an additional five seconds will be added to make it a 19-second pitch clock.