The MLB pitchers mound will be moved back 12 inches and the rubber will be back 61’6″ (photo from Bob Schloss flickr.com)
Baseball Laboratory: Moving Back Pitcher’s Rubber
That’s Amaury News and Commentary
By Amaury Pi-González
Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) announced new experimental playing rules that will be in place during the 2021 Atlantic League Championship Season. These changes are an experiment that it could be adopted in the future by Major League Baseball.
The Atlantic League season is scheduled to begin May 28. Six-team circuit, after losing two teams to Minor League Baseball, but for MLB they are a laboratory this year, for “experiments” per instructions and agreement with the Atlantic League from the office of the Commissioner of baseball.
These are the two experiments according to the Atlantic League communiqué.
-PITCHING RUBBER MOVED BACK ONE FOOT (SECOND HALF OF SEASON ONLY)
Moving the pitching rubber back 12 inches to 61’6” will provide batters with more time to react to pitches. 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. -The reaction time on a 93.3 mph fastball (average velocity in 2020) thrown from 61’6” is approximately equivalent to a 91.6 mph fastball (the average fastball velocity in 2010) thrown from 60’6”.
-As pitchers have gained velocity and used technology to improve the effectiveness of their pitches, the strikeout rate in Major League Baseball has increased for 15 consecutive years, from 16.4% of plate appearances in 2005 to an all-time Major League record 23.4% in 2020.
An analysis performed by MLB determined that a 12-inch increase would be the minimum interval needed to evaluate a change in mound distance. It is expected to be meaningful without being disruptive.
“DOUBLE-HOOK” DESIGNATED HITTER (FULL SEASON)
- Once a team’s starting pitcher is replaced, the team will lose its Designated Hitter for the remainder of the game. The Club will be required to use a pinch hitter, or the relief pitcher will bat.
- The “Double Hook” rule represents a potential compromise between the historical rules of the National League (which has not employed the Designated Hitter, except in 2020) and the American League (which has used the Designated Hitter since 1973).
- Nearly 90% of pitching starts in the Major Leagues in 2020 lasted less than seven innings. By linking the DH to the starting pitcher, the rule aims to incentivize teams to leave their starting pitchers in longer, increase the value of starters who can work deeper into games and increase the strategic element in the late innings of a game.
The main objectives of these experimental changes are to shorten the length of the games. There was a laboratory in a land far far away from where MLB plays, that did an experiment and according to the majority of science experts in the world produced a problem that we are still dealing today in the US and all over the world, there was an error/mistake. I am always concerned about experiments.
Although I am not opposed to all changes, I hope baseball keeps their sanity and tries to maintain the game as it was intended to be played. Hope this is not a ‘slippery slope’, like maybe next would be to change the distance between the bases to 60 feet (like in softball) instead of the 90 feet it has been.
I just do not want a mistake to escape this baseball laboratory, and baseball is disrespected. This experiment to move the pitcher’s rubber back from 60 feet 6 inches to 61 feet 6 inches is important and personally I hope it strikes out, because when start changing distances in the structure of the game, we are playing with “fuego” fire.
Red Smith, famed sportswriter once wrote: “Ninety feet between bases is perhaps as close as man has ever come to perfection.”
Stay well and stay tuned.
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