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Thursday, October 21, 2021

MLB Just Tried a Bunch of Experimental Rules in the Minors. How Well Did They Work?

No experimental rule generated more trepidation this year than the Atlantic League’s MLB-driven decision to move the mound back by a foot from the strangely sacrosanct distance of 60 feet, 6 inches. There were real reasons to think this change would reduce strikeouts and that the decision was long overdue: It’s worked at various points in the past, in the majors and elsewhere, and pitchers are much bigger and harder-throwing than they were when the current pitching distance was set in 1893. There were also some suggestions that pitchers might benefit from increased pitch movement over a farther flight. Finally, there were fears that the change in distance would cause a spike in injuries, a concern that scuttled a plan to push the mound back by two feet in the Atlantic League in 2019, and nearly incited a revolt this season in the lead-up to the move on August 3.

“Initially, obviously, there was some negative reaction, just because it was a change and a change that some people viewed as kind of fundamental to the game,” Martinez says. “I would say the overall opinion after a little while with it was that it didn’t make a huge difference. You really didn’t hear a lot of grumbling, and most of the players and staff that we’ve been talking to have said that after a series or two, nobody even really talked about it anymore. I think it was a lot less disruptive than maybe people thought it was going to be. … Hitters said that timing was essentially the same.”

Stem backs up Martinez’s take, describing the mound move as “not a huge deal at all.” The veteran righty adds, “That’s the one that everybody was freaking out about, and once it was done, and after that first week when everybody quit talking about it, it was completely unnoticeable.” No pitch type’s usage rate shifted up or down by even 1.5 percentage points, and the average four-seamer release speed budged only slightly, increasing by about a quarter of a mile per hour.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 21, 2021 at 12:06 PM | 96 comment(s)
  Beats: defensive shifts, mound distance, pitch clocks, robo ump

 

 

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