Major League Baseball's new rules are having the desired effect: shorter games, with more action. And while the Twins have seen similar changes, much of it has been more muted than in the league as a whole so far.

Shorter games

Perhaps the most radical idea, one that was tested out in the minor leagues first, was the introduction of a pitch clock to make games move along faster and eliminate time between pitches. Now, pitchers have 15 seconds to release a pitch with the bases empty and 20 seconds if a runner is on base.

Average game time is down by about 25 minutes league-wide as a result, and the Twins are seeing near-identical stats.

More baserunners

As fans have started to get used to seeing a pitch clock in stadiums and on broadcasts, the other easily identified change is the ban on infield shifts. No longer can teams deploy three infielders on one side of the diamond or an infielder playing on the outfield grass. Two infielders must be positioned on each side of second base, and the infielders must be on the infield dirt when the pitch is delivered.

The batting average on balls in play (BABIP), which measures how many batted balls result in hits, has increased leaguewide — more ground balls are getting through the infield or landing safely in the outfield since fewer players are pre-positioned to make a catch or a quick out. More hits translate to more baserunners and, ultimately, more action.

The Twins have maintained a better BABIP than the league, aided by an offensive outburst since the All-Star break.

More steals

When MLB increased the base size to 18 inches square, the goal was that two things might happen: Players having more room to avoid tags would result in fewer injuries, and the shorter distance between bases would encourage more attempts to steal a base.

The Twins, whose offense in recent years has been built more on power than on speed, stole just 38 bases all of last season. Whether it's the result of the bigger bases or the additions of speedy players Willi Castro and Michael A. Taylor, the Twins have already stolen 54 bases at the just-over-halfway point and made more attempts in general.

In fact, they're on pace for their highest stolen base total in six seasons.

More hits and more baserunners has led to more scoring, and with a shorter game, baseball is arguably more exciting.

A potential unexpected effect

Despite solid pitching and playing in a weak division, the Twins continue to hover around the .500 mark. The offense struggled until very recently, largely because of strikeouts — Twins batters are on pace to set a league record for strikeouts in a single season.

The cause could be in the hitting approach, or perhaps it's an indirect result of the new pitch clock: Hitters don't get as much time to collect or reset themselves between pitches. Either way, it's holding back the Twins offense.

Surging out of the break

The All-Star break apparently came at the right time for the Twins offense, though, which flipped the script from scuffling to scorching through Wednesday's game.

If the team can maintain its better offensive production, a division title or — dare we say it — perhaps even an elusive playoff victory could be with its reach.