Major League Baseball is a game that purists don’t want to see any changes. Be gone with the pitch clocks, extra-innings shenanigans and don’t they dare add a robotic umpire!
Well, the MLB is working with an independent league to test out different situations and other changes to their league to see how the game is changed. MLB have worked with independent Atlantic League before, but the two leagues officially signed a three-year agreement that will allow MLB to use the league as a testing ground for rules and other changes.
While it isn’t official or confirmed, reports have indicated that some of the tested changes will include moving the pitcher’s mound back and using robotic umpires to call balls and strikes. Both of these changes require heavy in-game testing before potentially being brought to the MLB.
And if changes were to occur, they may not happen at the major league level right away. It appears as if changes would be implemented to the minor leagues and affiliated ball before being brought up to the MLB.
MLB have agreed to tell the Atlantic League 45 days advance notice before any rule changes happen before a season and 30 days for any change that occurs in the second half of the season. The Atlantic League is also able to provide feedback before any rule is adopted.
The Atlantic League have been at the forefront of speeding up the game. In 2014, the league cut warm-up pitches to six from eight and eliminated pitchers from throwing balls for intentional walks.
Each game played will be transmitted to all 30 MLB clubs. The Atlantic League will be using Trackman to call balls and strikes but won’t be individualized to each player like in the MLB.
One reason the MLB is using the Atlantic League for such tests and not Spring Training is the available data that can be collected over 140 game season rather than Spring Training. The Atlantic League have 8 teams playing 140 games, and many feel as if teams would not want their young pitching prospects pitching from a mound further than sixty feet, six inches.
Could we see any of these rules implemented in the near future? The mound moving back would be huge for hitters, while robots calling balls and strikes would allow for great accuracy.