Saturday, June 19, 2021

Major League Baseball vs. Chinese Professional Baseball League

With the Chinese Professional Baseball League currently underway, and fans beginning to appear in the stands, you may be wondering what the difference is between MLB and the CPBL. Read ahead to identify the differences, but let's just say the two leagues vary significantly.

Level of Play

The highest level of baseball you’ll find is Major League Baseball. People have spent their entire careers playing baseball without ever reaching the majors. MLB has a draft class each year of roughly 1,200 players, but of those, 700 aren’t signed by an MLB team and attempt to get re-drafted the ensuing year. Of the 500 that remain, 300 players will underperform and will no longer be on the MLB affiliate team as a new draft class is coming in. It is anticipated that of those that remain, 150 players will settle in the minor leagues, but will never make it to the majors. With about 45 players left, they will play for MLB spring training rosters, but won’t get signed to the opening day roster. That leaves just five players of 1,200 who will make the opening day roster of an MLB team in a given year. The level of competition in MLB is cruel, and many players will never suit up for an MLB team because it is incomparably the highest level of baseball.

The skill level of the Chinese Professional Baseball League is equivalent to Double-A of the minor league system. Past domestic, foreign, and Taiwanese players in the MiLB needed to reach Double-A to have success in the CPBL. While there have been players with just Single-A experience who performed strongly in the CPBL, there have also been former MLB players who didn’t prove themselves as well.

Pace of Play

MLB has implemented a three batter minimum for relief pitchers starting for the 2020 season. The rule is a relief pitcher must pitch to at least three batters before a pitching change occurs, the end of the inning is reached, or the pitcher is dealing with an injury. These are in place to prevent numerous mid-inning pitching changes that make MLB games long-drawn. Also, the average number of pitchers used per game was higher than ever at 4.41 per game. The idea behind it is to accelerate the pace of play to avoid an unnecessary amount of changes in relief pitchers in a given game. Another rule change this season is MLB managers now have 20 seconds to challenge a play, versus 30 seconds from the previous season. Attendance in MLB was down 1.7% last year from the prior year, which has been considered a result of the pace of play. The 2019 season resulted in the longest average of time per game in the history of MLB at 3 hours and 10 minutes.

Another aspect of the pace of play is while MLB players are more disciplined at the plate than CPBL players, you would think that an MLB game would be longer, but that is not the case. Because of the aggressiveness of CPBL players, they are hitting for higher averages, putting the ball in play more, and scoring more runs, leading to a longer average length per game. With the CPBL considered a hitter’s league, teams score 10.94 runs per game, while MLB teams put up 9.66 runs per game.

In 2017, the average length of a game in the CPBL was 3 hours and 28 minutes. The CPBL implemented a 15-second pitch clock in 2006 and was reduced down to 12 seconds in 2017, but the rule is not being appropriately reinforced. An additional rule was created that allows an intentional walk without actually pitching to the batter. It is estimated though this just saves roughly 9 seconds per game.

Salary

While the average salary in MLB dropped 1% last year, the average salary was still $4,051,490. The minimum wage in MLB is $563,500, with the highest players earning over $30 million annually. While there are a few minor league players who make over a million, most make a mediocre income of between $20,000 and $67,000 per year. A newly drafted player to the minor league is given a 7-year contract, and are compensated by what level they are associated with the minor league system and how many years they have been playing. For most players, this starts at around $850 per month, which could grow over time, but this salary is only given while the season is underway.

In the 2018 season of the CPBL, the average salary was $61,200. The Fubon Guardians have had the highest average salary in the league for the fourth consecutive year. The age bracket of players earning the most money in the CPBL is players who are over the age of 35. Those specific 13 players make an average of $176,800 per year. You can see who is more valued in the CPBL as positional players average $69,200 per year, whereas pitchers only average $50,000 per year.

Format of Season

Each Major League Baseball team plays 162 games per season, for a total of 2,430 games each year. The American League and the National League make up the two leagues in MLB, with each league consisting of having 15 teams. The playoffs consist of the Wildcard, Division Series, Championship Series, and World Series.

The CPBL consists of 120 games per season, with two separate halves. If you have the best record by the midway point of the season, you automatically advance to the postseason. Each series in the playoffs is a best of five. The Taiwan Series, or Championship Series, is a best-of-seven series like the World Series. While each team has a home stadium, there are ten venues where the teams play throughout the season. Since there are only four teams in the league, each team plays each other 30 times, with a total of 480 games per season.

Foods

As discussed in a previous post, the scene at a Chinese Professional Baseball League is entirely different from a Major League Baseball game. One thing that stands out is the cuisine of the two separate leagues. The most traditional items you’ll find at concession stands at MLB games is beer, hotdogs, and peanuts. Beer has been associated with MLB since the inauguration of the league in 1869. With the introduction of the hotdog in 1901 by Harry M. Stevens, a man who owned a concession stand, hotdogs became the leading food of MLB. If however you end up at a CPBL game, you will find yourself with bubble tea as opposed to beer!

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