5 Players Who Could Benefit Most From MLB Rule Changes

From Corey Seager to Max Scherzer, here are the players who should enjoy some solid seasons in 2023 thanks to the massive adjustments to the MLB rulebook.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2023 12:22 PM ET Read Time: 4 min

Major League Baseball made some drastic changes to their rules heading into the 2023 season. They are introducing a pitch clock, banned defensive shifts, and even made the bases larger.

Make sure to read the piece by my co-worker and fellow seamhead, Josh Inglis, for a complete breakdown on the new rules and how they will affect baseball betting this season.

We’re now going to look at specific players who could benefit the most from these new rules (cough, cough, left-handed hitters), and how savvy baseball bettors can take advantage of the MLB odds, particularly in the MLB player props market. 

Here are my five (maybe six) players who could benefit the most from the MLB rule changes in 2023. 

Corey Seager, SS, TEX

Left-handed hitters everywhere must have rejoiced when they found out the shift was going to be banned in 2023. One of those lefties is Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager.

Seager’s first year in Texas was an interesting one. He hit a career-high 33 home runs, but saw his batting average plummet. Prior to last season, he was a career .297 hitter, but last year he hit just .245. And his OPS was the second lowest of his career. 

But Seager was more than a little unlucky. The shift may have robbed him blind, as Seager saw more shifts than anyone in the MLB last season. Of his 656 at-bats, only 47 were without a shift. That’s because he pulls the ball more than most and makes contact more than most hitters.

Seager’s advanced metrics were fantastic. He ranked in the 96th percentile when it came to expected on-base average, expected batting average, and expected slugging percentage.

Plus, Seager looks ready to bust out in 2023. He is coming off a fantastic Spring Training where he hit .467 with a 1.266 OPS. If the price is decent, I will be looking hard at Seager’s total bases and hits props early in the season.

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Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU

Next up is the Houston Astros' Kyle Tucker. The left-hand hitting outfielder (are you starting to see a theme?) also saw a bit of a dip in his production last year.

Tucker hit .294 with a .917 OPS in his first full big league season in 2021, but he saw those numbers drop to .257 and .808, respectively, last year. Tucker was another player who was victimized by the shift, as he saw a shift in 90.9% of his 605 at-bats a season ago.

The Tampa native saw a big discrepancy in his weighted on-base average between when he saw a shift and when he didn’t. According to Baseball Savant, Tucker had a solid .336 weighted on-base average when facing the shift last season, but that number skyrocketed to .463 when the shift wasn’t there.

So, it won’t be surprising to see Tucker’s batting average bounce back as we could see more hits fall in for him this season.

Tucker was also an effective and efficient base stealer last season, and the new pitch clock and pickoff rules could make him even better. Tucker looks like a great candidate to rack up the hits in a strong Houston lineup and even steal a few more bags this season.

It doesn’t hurt that this is a contract year for Tucker. Keep an eye on his total base and stolen base props early on this season.

Shohei Ohtani, DH/SP

The thought of Los Angeles Angels starter and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani being ever better is scary, isn’t it? Well, that’s definitely on the table for 2023. And, oh look, another left-handed hitter.

Ohtani won the 2021 MVP thanks to a season where he hit 46 home runs with a .965 OPS, while at the same time being an above-average pitcher. He probably wins that award again in 2022 if not for a record-breaking season from Aaron Judge, but we did see his offensive numbers dip a bit last year.

Ohtani seemingly substituted power for contact last season, as his power numbers went down while improving his batting average and strikeout rate. But don’t be shocked if Ohtani has another monster year at the dish in 2023.

The two-way star saw a lot of shifts last season. In fact, the only hitters who saw a higher percentage of shifts with at least 600 at-bats were, not surprisingly, Seager, Tucker, and Kyle Schwarber. Getting Ohtani out just got that much tougher.

Like the others, I’ll be taking a hard look at Ohtani’s total base props early in the season. But there may be even more opportunities for Ohtani. Remember, he’s also fast. He’s also a smart baserunner who stole 37 bags in the last two seasons. Don’t be surprised if he swipes a few more this year.

Max Scherzer, SP, NYM

The pitch clock is the most drastic change in the MLB rules, well, maybe ever. And pitchers are strange dudes. Creatures of habit. So, telling them that they have to change their routine could be quite disruptive. 

Guys like Noah Syndergaard, Corbin Burnes, Alek Manoah, and Yu Darvish are all notably slow workers, and they will have to make adjustments this season. But I’m going to look at this the other way.

Who are the smart pitchers who are going to use the pitch clock to their advantage? To me, there is no one better suited to do this than Mad Max himself, Max Scherzer.

This spring, the New York Mets starter looked like one of the only pitchers actively testing out what he can and can’t get away with when it comes to the pitch clock. Whether it is quick pitching, or waiting to see how long after it hits zero before the umpire calls a ball, Mad Max has looked more like a mad scientist trying to figure it all out. 

And it’s not like Scherzer needs any more advantages. Even in his age-37 season, he still pitched to a 2.29 ERA and struck out 10.7 batters per nine innings. While we may see some higher scoring with these new rule changes while other starters adjust, they might not be in Scherzer starts.

Bobby Witt SS, KC and Trea Turner, SS, PHI

As my guy Josh Inglis pointed out in his MLB rule changes article, stolen base props might hold the most value when it comes to the new rules, at least early on in the season.

It’s been apparent that stolen bases have basically become a thing of the past in baseball, mostly being used by elite baserunners and in particular situations. But that could change in 2023. 

There are a few factors at work here. For starters, the pitch clock. If certain pitchers used up the entire clock, baserunners will be able to time their jumps perfectly. Plus, only two pickoff attempts are allowed per plate appearance. So, once a pitcher goes over twice, you know they won’t be going again.

And finally, with the new base sizes, it’s now 4.5 inches closer between first and second, and second and third.

To me, this means elite base stealers like the Kansas City Royals’ Bobby Witt Jr. and the Philadelphia Phillies' Trea Turner could run wild this season. Both are in the 99th percentile in sprint speed, and they stole 30 and 27 bases, respectively, last season.

On top of that, more steals also means more runners in scoring position, so taking a look at their runs scored props in certain situations wouldn’t be the worst idea either.

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