There’s really no point to this other than to satisfy my curiosity. There have been a lot of extra inning games over the first series of the 2018 season, so those will naturally last just a bit longer than the regulation contests, which already get close to three hours, and most of them go over that magic mark anyway.
On Opening Day, the average for a nine-inning game was around three hours and seven minutes. The next day, the nine-inning contests ended at an average game time of two hours and 56 minutes. I figure that a number of factors, chief of which would be men on base and pitching changes, would prolong game lengths, and most fans wouldn’t care if runs were scored and there was action to behold. So on day three, I just decided to simplify and just look at game times of regulation contests. This doesn’t include the Cubs, who played yet another extra-innings game (only ten innings this time, 3:57 all told) so their bullpen is probably dead now. Here we go:
- STL 2, Mets 6 — 3:22
- Nats 13, Reds 7 — 3:16
- HOU 9, TEX 3 — 3:19
- Angels 8, A’s 3 — 3:23
- Yankees 3, Blue Jays 5 — 2:37 (wow)
- Indians 6, Mariners 5 — 2:47
- BOS 3, Rays 2 — 3:21
- Twins 6, Orioles 2 — 2:50
- White Sox 4, Royals 3 — 2:54
- PHI 2, ATL 15 — 3:21
- COL 2, AZ 1 — 2:54
- MIL 7, SD 3 — 2:51
- Giants 0, Dodgers 5 — 2:43
Average of nine-inning games for day three: three hours and three minutes. I think the three hour mark is pretty hard to beat because of commercials and what not, and also because teams are all setting up large bullpens for matchup and health maintenance purposes. As such, days two and three both ended up below last year’s nine-inning average of three hours and five minutes, so maybe over the season it will trend downwards more.
I’m sure someone more obsessive than I am will compile a database of game times later on, or maybe there’s a way you can do the search in Play Index on Baseball-Reference, but there were quite a few runs being scored in most of the games that went over three hours. Fans like action and offense is action, so I don’t see a problem with this. This post is probably the last time for a while I will do this type of tally, as spring break is almost over and I guess I should probably do some actual work soon. But based on what I’m seeing, the game is flowing and you barely even notice that the game has gone long. Even the lone extra inning affair (naturally, the Cubs) finished in a reasonable time, and of course there was plenty of action that wasn’t just based off the long ball. Now if only they could tidy up that strike zone…
UPDATE 4/2 11:30 AM: So we have 3:07 for day 1 (10 regulation games), and 2:56 for day 2 (8 games). Day 3 was 3:03 (13 games). I took a look at day 4 (all 12 games played ended in nine innings) and we had an average of 2:57. Taken all together, the first weekend of baseball had a nine-inning average time of game of three hours and one minute. I hope someone else is able to keep track of all this later on, but at least it’s aggregating at a shorter game length than last year so far. I imagine tightening up some of the pacing throughout games as players and umpires and managers get used to it will improve the game length some, so they can avoid the pitch clock for next year. I think a pitch clock would be beneficial to the game anyway, but if the Commissioner is giving the teams a choice here, they need to take him up on it.