Which Blue Jays will benefit most from each of MLB's new rules in 2023?

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New Rules: Stolen Bases

First base, second base, and third base are all increasing in size from 15 to 18 inches square, meaning a 4.5-inch reduction between bases. Additionally, pitchers will be limited to two pickoff attempts per plate appearance – if a third pickoff is attempted and unsuccessful, the runner will automatically advance.

Who will this impact?

Don’t immediately look at those who put up high stolen base numbers – they’re already capable of stealing a bag (sorry Whit). For the greatest impact, look instead to the guys for whom 4.5 inches, and less of a pickoff threat, could mean all the difference between success and failure – think players with good-but-not-great sprint speed who can steal the odd base but get caught a lot.

(Note: the high end of MLB sprint speed – players like Trea Turner and Julio Rodríguez – is around 30 feet per second, while the low end – think Alejandro Kirk and Rowdy Tellez – is about 24ft/s)

  • Bo Bichette
    Stolen bases/Caught stealing - 13/8
    Sprint speed - 27.5 ft/s

Bo Bichette's athleticism hides the fact that his sprint speed has actually been measured as eminently average, the same as Ryan Mountcastle and Nick Castellanos. Blue Jays fans, for their part, may remember him being constantly thrown out by a half step last year. Could the new rules mean a return to his 2021 numbers, when he stole 25 bags and was caught only once? Or could he go even higher and steal 30-plus?

  • Santiago Espinal
    Stolen bases/Caught stealing - 6/6
    Sprint speed - 27.0 ft/s

Santiago Espinal seems like a guy who should be able to steal a base – an athletic middle infielder with good reflexes – but Jays fans will remember him as another guy consistently thrown out by half a step in 2022. A couple of extra inches on the basepaths could push Espinal’s stolen base total into double digits, or perhaps make him a valuable late-game pinch runner.

No, not for stolen bases, though remember when Charlie Montoyo claimed Vladdy could steal 30? MLB has stated that the reason for larger bases is not just to encourage steals, but to reduce collisions on the basepaths by giving fielders and baserunners more room. Anyone who has seen Vladdy stretch for Bo’s often errant throws will know that more room might just save his life.