Runner on Second in Extras: Pros and Cons

Callen Elslager breaks down the extra innings runner on second rule.

One of the new rules this season that has primed the most conversation around the game is a runner starting on second base in extra innings. The debate continues to rage on about whether it should stay in baseball after this season. This piece will take you through some of the pros and cons of this rule and hopefully help determine where you stand in the debate. Leave a comment on this page or reach out to me on Twitter and let me know where you stand as this debate continues to rage on.




  • No Marathon Games: If you’re reading this article, then you are probably part of the smaller percentage of people that this doesn’t apply to. Though those long 17 or 18 inning contests don’t happen often, the average fan doesn’t want to sit through those late extra-inning games that feel like they will never end because everyone who steps up is trying to play the role of hero. This rule helps to shorten those games, therefore keeping the attention for a bit longer with these fans. 


  • More Strategy: With the addition of the DH in the National League, the idea was that a small-ball style of baseball would no longer be much of a factor. However, starting a runner on second base, with nobody out in extra innings, allows a manager to be much more strategic in how they manage the situation. Do they bunt the runner over to try and make that run easier to come across? Do they swing away to try and get multiple runs since the home team likely can do that exact same thing? Do they try and steal a bag? Pull off a suicide squeeze? With the runner starting on second base, you can even strategize if you want to pull a slower runner who’s important to your lineup for a faster bench player.


  • Saves Arms in the Bullpen: As previously mentioned, some extra-inning games would drag on and force a team to end the game with a completely depleted bullpen, effecting how they will manage their rosters and the next game. With these games ending earlier because of this rule, teams do not need to fully empty their bullpens and will likely have fresh arms good to go the next day.


  • Instant Extra Inning Drama: Some of the most exciting moments of a baseball game are when there is a runner in scoring position and the pitcher has to work themselves out of the jam. That is exactly the case that teams have to deal with, but in extra innings now. It makes for instant drama which as a fan I am looking to tune into whenever I can, to see how a pitcher can work out of the situation.



  • No Marathon Games: Though in the long run, it is probably for the best that there are not many marathon extra-inning games, the few that we saw each season became must-watch events. These games became instant conversation starters with a common question being asked whether or not you saw that game. It was also a very uniting experience on Twitter, with everyone talking about those games on the occasion that they took place. 


  • Not an Earned Run: The biggest complaint that you here about this rule is that the run doesn’t feel earned. It is extremely hard to get to second base in a major league game, and just throwing a guy out there makes the run feel like the team did not earn the run. Every run matters in a season, and to have runs come across in this sort of way where the runner did not work his way on base is difficult.


Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire

Callen Elslager

Callen is a law school student at Widener Law Commonwealth. When he doesn't have his head in the books studying law he can be found with his head in a Fangraphs or Baseball Savant page learning more about the sport he loves.

2 responses to “Runner on Second in Extras: Pros and Cons”

  1. Doug B. says:

    Screw extra runners in the 7th+ but after nine+ I’m all good.

  2. Dave says:

    “No marathon games” as a con seems odd since that is exactly why they implemented this rule in a short season. There are more games in a shorter time-span and, with so many games getting postponed due to COVID-19 positive test results, there are also a lot more double-headers. This rule somewhat mitigates the limited time between games by attempting to avoid the marathons and give participants a little more rest. Personally, I don’t like the rule because it seems gimmicky for it’s purpose. I would much rather just call it a tie after 12 innings and keep the flavor the same throughout the game. But, I may be in the minority – I would also like to see robot umpires call balls and strikes to help minimize the impact of human umpires on the outcome of the game.

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