Whole new ballgame: What to make of MLB's early 2023 trends

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Writing about trends from the first two weeks of the MLB season is a fraught exercise even in a typical season. This is not a typical season though, not with baseball adopting so many significant rule changes that officially took effect on Opening Day.

We want to know: What does it all mean? With the obligatory caveat that the samples are small, here are five observations from the first slice of this historic 2023 season, in response to the new rules and otherwise.

1. The stolen base resurgence is just beginning

The rise in steals has gotten a lot of attention, as it should. The early rate of steals per game (0.69) is the highest in baseball since 1999. If the number increases in a typical fashion, it could end up at around 0.73, which would put us on par with the early-1990s.

That said, typical trajectories might not tell us much in this category, because I'm not too sure teams have figured out what they are dealing with in this new era of limited pickoff throws and bigger bases.

You can see this in the spread of steal attempts between teams. Sure, the makeup of a team's roster plays into this, but the difference is tremendous. Teams such as the Baltimore Orioles, Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Guardians are running wild. Others like the Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels, St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals are barely running at all.