What is the ‘mercy rule’ and will it apply to the 2023 World Baseball Classic final?
With the 2023 World Baseball Classic final between the U.S.A. and Japan set, here’s a look at one of the more curious rule differences between the MLB and the tournament.
Having already seen the so called ‘mercy rule’ come into effect during this year’s edition of the tournament, many are wondering what it is and whether it will apply to the final itself, as we get set for what’s likely to be a high-scoring encounter between two heavyweights of baseball.
What is the ‘mercy rule’ in the World Baseball Classic?
Regarded as perhaps the biggest deviation from the current MLB structure, the mercy rule in simple form is a way of ensuring that one team doesn’t decimate the other. While the debate as to whether it should even be in place continues, we’re just here to explain what it is and how it works. As per reports, it goes something like this: If a team is leading by 15 or more runs after five innings, or 10 or more runs after seven innings, the game is brought to an end and called in favor of the team that’s leading.
What’s extremely important to note here is that the mercy rule only applied to pool play, which is to say it was not in effect during the knockout stages of the tournament and certainly won’t be utilized when the Japanese and Americans do battle for the WBC tournament on Tuesday night.
The mercy rule in effect at the 2023 WBC
Aside from the video above, one perfect example of the rule at work, was when Puerto Rico threw a perfect game to win 10-0 against Israel. Yet, perhaps the one that really stood out, was when Team USA faced off against their noisy neighbors, Canada, in the second game of pool play. As early as the bottom of the first, it was clear that the Americans meant business as they put up nine runs in a short space of time. Indeed, with the score 6-0 in their favor and Canada having just made a pitching change, Mike Trout stepped up for his second at-bat in the innings and proceeded to launch a three-run homer into the stands. Though the Canadians did try to push back, Trae Turner completed the rout with a solo home run in the bottom of the second to push the score to 12-1. The mercy rule call wasn’t long in coming.
What can we expect from U.S.A. vs Japan?
If we’re honest, both teams come into the final as prime candidates to be mercy ruled - as mentioned above Team USA already has. Between the two teams, they’ve put 36 runs on the board during the knockout stages with the Americans posting 21 and the Japanese 15. Four of the USA’s last 5 games have seen them produce over 9.5 runs and the same can be said for the Japanese. With both teams possessing serious fire power, it’s going to come down to which pitching rotation can hold firm. Remember, don’t miss it!