Since he took over as commissioner, Rob Manfred has made pace of play his biggest focus. He’s tried to implement new rules with the intention of speeding up every game.
On Sunday, San Fransisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt threw a pretty large wrench into those plans. He set the record for the longest at-bat in Major League Baseball’s modern era.
Behold: The longest at-bat of the modern era! pic.twitter.com/sjtx4zzxpz
— MLB (@MLB) April 22, 2018
That’s right. Belt dragged out a 21-pitch at-bat against Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jaime Barria. That broke the previous record, which was set by Ricky Gutierrez, who turned in a 20-pitch at-bat against Bartolo Colón in 1998.
As you might expect, a 21-pitch at-bat takes a fair amount of time.
Brandon Belt's first plate appearance today took almost 13 minutes and 21 pitches. The first inning was 28 minutes…and the Giants didn't even score. You wanna know why baseball execs have tried to speed up the game? That stuff right there.
— Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) April 22, 2018
Roughly 13 minutes elapsed during Belt’s at-bat. The end of the battle wound up being a little anti-climatic. Belt flew out on pitch No. 21.
Barria vs. Belt, 21 Pitch AB (last pitch). pic.twitter.com/MOzDArcndL
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 22, 2018
Still, the strike zone graphic of all 21 pitches is pretty entertaining.
We should note that even if Manfred implemented all his changes into the game, this type of thing would still be unavoidable. Though some drastic changes have been proposed, none have focused on the length of at-bats. Until Manfred says all at-bats must end after seven pitches, these types of things will happen. They are part of the game.
And while shortened at-bats sounds preposterous, we’re not putting anything past Manfred at this point.
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