MLB, Atlantic League will experiment new rule changes

MLB, Atlantic League will experiment new rule changes
Teams will lose their designated hitter once they remove their starting pitcher from the game. The pitching rubber will be moved back 12 inches (30.48 centimetres).

Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) jointly announced new experimental playing rules that will be in place during the 2021 Atlantic League Championship Season.

You might also be interested in:
- MLB names Atlantic League a partner
- Rule changes to be tested in Minor League Baseball

The eight-team APBL will introduce the so-called Double-Hook designated hitter rule. Once a team's starting pitcher is replaced, the team will lose its designated hitter for the remainder of the game. The rule aims to incentivize teams to leave their starting pitchers in the game longer.

For the second half of the season, the ALPB will move the pitching rubber back 12 inches (or 30.48 centimetres). The pitcher will be 61 feet 5 inches (or 18.75 meters) away from the home plate. The expectation is that more reaction time will help batters make contact more frequently, putting more balls into play and creating more action in the game.

There is precedent for this change. In 1893 the National League moved the pitching rubber back 5 feet (or 152.4 centimetres) to its current distance of 60 feet 6 inches (or 18,47 metres). In 1960 MLB lowered the height of the mound from 15 to 10 inches. In both cases, strikeout rates lowered, and batting averages increased.

Several experimental rules first implemented in the Atlantic League in 2019 have been adopted in the Minor Leagues or the Major Leagues.

The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball will open its season on 27 May.