Major League Baseball and the independent Atlantic League announced a partnership in late February in which the Atlantic League will use experimental rules as decided by MLB in exchange for additional technology and scouting coverage of the independent league by MLB. At the time of this initial announcement we didn’t know the details of the experimental rules. Friday we learned the details.
The experimental rule changes announced on Friday will be used in the Atlantic League in 2019.
Home plate umpire assisted in calling balls and strikes by a TrackMan radar tracking system.
When my brother first suggested a computerized strike zone to me 5-10 years ago I thought he was crazy. How can you take that human element out of the game? It’s part of the fun of the game. Boy was I wrong. I was dead wrong. As I watched baseball after hearing this suggestion I gradually realized that this is the very next thing baseball needs to do and they need to do it immediately.
Major League umpires are just terrible at calling balls and strikes. The idea of pitch framing being a skill drives me crazy. It should not be a skill to steal a strike in a count. The umpires can get fooled as easy as a batter with pitch sequence and breaking ball quality. If a pitcher shows them up they might all of a sudden have a small strike zone.
Removing the umpires from calling pitches should help speed up the game. There is no more fussing over a call. The computer doesn’t care who wins or if anyone is mad at it.
Will this rule make it to MLB? Yes. It’s a matter of time. MLB is likely just working out the kinks in the system. I would expect this to come to MLB as soon as the system is reliable.
No mound visits permitted by players or coaches other than for pitching changes or medical issues
This will be a time saver as well. There is no reason why major league players need to visit the mound. They should be able to work things out from their position.
The difficult idea for many old school baseball people, of which I have always considered myself, is a coach not being able to visit a pitcher. But is this really necessary? Don’t these guys know how to pitch? They can talk between innings. A football coach can’t go out on the field and talk to a quarterback between plays. Sure, a football coach can call a timeout and maybe baseball will have something like this at some point.
Will this rule make it to MLB? I would expect that this rule will make it to the major leagues but possibly modified in some way and gradually ending up at this point.
Pitchers must face a minimum of three batters, or reach the end of an inning before they exit the game, unless the pitcher becomes injured
This is a great rule! Changing pitchers after every batter late in the game just causes the game to drag on. Is it good for strategy? It can be, yes. But it’s so boring and slows the game down so much that even someone who loves baseball more than any other sport gives up and goes to bed when this starts happening.
Will this rule make it to MLB? Yes! This rule or some form of it will make it to the major leagues and it can’t happen soon enough.
Increase size of 1st, 2nd and 3rd base from 15 inches square to 18 inches square
I guess this is for player safety. This seems like a fine idea but nothing huge. However, how does this get implemented? The Royals are going all in on speed. Will first base be three or maybe 1.5 inches closer to home? Will this make it even tougher for teams to get Adalberto Mondesi out? Presumably the bases will be increased in size in a way to not make the actual distance between them closer.
Will this rule make it to MLB? I would think this will happen. Anything to make the game safer is a good idea. I can’t think of a reason why this would be bad. I’m not sure it will help a lot but I expect this to end up in the majors.
Require two infielders to be on each side of second base when a pitch is released (if not, the ball is dead and the umpire shall call a ball)
Eliminate the shift? This is dumb but there are a lot of people in MLB that talk about wanting to do this. I’m in the camp that says teach players to hit around the shift. If baseball wants more balls in play they should encourage batters to be able to hit the ball to all fields instead of limiting where fielders play. Bat control would ultimately force the end of the dramatic shift.
Will this rule make it to MLB? I think it’s 50/50. This will be a tough fight. If I have to pick one side or the other I would guess this will arrive in the major leagues at some point. It might not last long but I think it might make it. If this does appear in MLB I won’t like it at all so hopefully it fails.
Time between innings and pitching changes reduced from 2:05 to 1:45
This is a no-brainer. Does anyone not want to cut time between innings or during pitching changes? No fan would be against this and these rules are not for players or coaches but for the fans.
Will this rule make it to MLB? Yes.
Distance from pitching rubber to home plate extended 24 inches, in the second half of the season only; with no change to mound height or slope
I’m not sure how I feel about this. The idea is that with pitchers throwing faster and faster these days, moving the mound back will help batters put more balls in play. I don’t have a problem with moving the mound back. Two feet might be a bit extreme but I’m open to seeing how it works.
What about lowering the mound again? I think MLB thinks only distance will solve the problem of increased velocity and that might be true. Maybe a combination of a lower mound and moving the mound back six inches would work.
I’m not sure how this will work but trying this out in the Atlantic League is a great idea.
Will this rule make it to MLB? The mound will probably be moved back at some point. There isn’t a real good reason I can think of why it shouldn’t be moved back. Two feet might be a bit extreme but we’ll see how it players out.
The MLB partnership with the Atlantic League appears to be a good arrangement. It’s a chance for MLB to test out rule changes without doing so in major or minor league ball. Imagine trying to get teams to agree to moving the mound back two feet in the minors when they are trying to teach their pitchers to pitch at the major league distance.
I expect several of these rules to be used one year and then immediately implemented throughout professional baseball. Others will take time or get replaced with new ideas. At least Major League Baseball finally has a good place to try out their rule changes prior to implementing them in a way that affects the major and minor leagues.