What is a MLB baseball base made of?
With one of the changes in the MLB for 2023 being larger bases, we thought we would take a look at just what a makes a baseball base legal
There were several changes implemented in this season by the MLB and players association, and media attention has been on the big ones. The announcement that 2023 will see the introduction of pitch clocks and the banning of defensive shifts, and the biggest change of all, implemented immediately, the adoption of the designated hitter by the National League.
But another change has gone largely uncommented on. The bases from next season will be bigger than they are now. Perhaps the bases are worth a look, with the game, after all, being named “base ball”.
MLB rule 2.03 stipulates that the bags have to be “marked by white canvas or rubber-covered bags, securely attached to the ground” with first and third located “entirely within the infield.” The composition of the bag itself was to be 15 inches square, not less than three nor more than five inches thick, and filled with soft material.
From 2023 forward, the base will become 18 inches square. While this rule primarily has in mind twisted ankles and injuries around first base, it will also have some interesting effects on base running.
With the rules stipulating that first and third bases be located entirely within fair territory, those extra three inches on both first and second, as well as second and third, will mean that the bags will be six inches closer to each other. Stolen bases are often a question of inches and milliseconds between tag and bag, so this could make larceny on the base paths a little more attractive around the league.
Also, the 90 feet mandated for the base path between home and first, or third and home, is measured to the back of the bag, making those bases each three inches closer to home. Particularly at first base, this could have the effect of swinging bang-bang plays into the runner’s favor.
The composition of the bag itself will not change, generally being three inches at the edge and rising to five inches in the center to give the base a domed appearance. Although the rule stipulates that it be “filled with a soft material”, bases are in fact not terribly soft. They tend to be thick, heavy rubber, covered with a synthetic coating that does not puncture under the weight of two grown men wearing metal spiked shoes.
Under the bag is a metal pole which slots into a buried anchor point so that the bag does not move when slid into or stepped on. Everyone would like to see more base stealing in the Show, but not at the expense of twisted ankles or broken wrists, so runners will need to be very aware of the differences in bag distance.