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World Series 9-inning games averaged 3 hours, 1 minute — fastest since 1996

NEW YORK (AP) — If you think the World Series sped by, it did.

Nine-inning games averaged 3 hours, 1 minute, the fastest since 1996, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The first postseason of the pitch clock also included defensive shift limits and larger bases, leading to increased stolen bases and appearing to contribute to higher batting averages.

“From what I’ve heard of people that pay attention to our games, it’s really more interactive and the pitch clock is good for baseball,” said first baseman Nathaniel Lowe of World Series champion Texas.

Postseason nine-inning games overall averaged 3:02, down from 3:23 last year and 3:37 in 2021, the last season before the PitchCom electronic pitch-calling device. That mirrored a regular season with an average game time of 2:40, the lowest since 1985.

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Just one postseason game topped 4 hours, when the Rangers beat Arizona in an 11-inning World Series opener. Six of 40 postseason games exceeded 4 hours in 2022.

Three World Series games ended in under 3 hours, including the first consecutive games since 2006.

The faster pace didn’t help ratings, though. The Texas-Arizona showdown averaged 9.11 million viewers, making it the least-watched Fall Classic in TV history.

MLB set the pitch clock at 15 seconds with the bases empty and 20 seconds with runners on base. Just seven pitch clock violations were assessed in the postseason, an average of one per six games. There were none during the World Series.

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Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred resisted calls from some players to extend the clock in the postseason.

“I think we made the right call,” Manfred said. “The concept, and it was really owners more than anybody else, of playing the way we played all year is a really important one. And I’m glad it doesn’t seem to have had a impact on the outcome of any game.”

Runs per game increased to 8.2 from 7.3 and batting average to .241 from .211 in the postseason sample of 41 games. Batting average for left-handed hitters climbed to .238 from .211. The stolen base jump was more marked with each base 18-by-18-inches instead of 15-by-15. Steals per game rose to 1.4 from 0.9 and attempts to 1.6 from 1.1. The success rate increased to 85.1% from 77.3%.

“The pitch clock took the pitchers and I think a lot of guys time to adjust to over the course of the season, and especially in playoff games,” Philadelphia pitcher Aaron Nola said. “Obviously everything is a little bit more heightened and the stakes are a little bit higher than the regular season.”

Postseason strikeouts dropped to 23.8% of plate appearances from 27%, and walks increased to 9% from 7.6%.

Manfred said no major rules changes are planned for 2024. He wants to give at least another year before considering more innovations.

“I love the pace of the game right now,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “I don’t think it’s gone too fast.”

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB