The eight-team Atlantic League, which has franchises on the east coast, will make the change in the second half of their 120-game regular season, said a person familiar with the matter. It will be the first change to mound rules in professional baseball since 1969, when MLB lowered the mound after a season in which seven starting pitchers posted ERAs below 2.00.

The Atlantic League is independent and its teams are not affiliated with MLB franchises. It is a partner league with MLB and has already introduced rules of experience – perhaps especially so-called “Robo Umps”.

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MLB officials are pushing for the change after years of internal deliberation about changing the distance from the hill to the main shield, one of the people familiar with the discussions, who spoke anonymously to freely describe the private sessions, told the Washington Post. It is designed to increase action on the grassroots paths and reduce strikes and home runs.

“[MLB leaders] concluded that the things that got us into the game in the first place are dwarfed by absolute results and frankly people find it boring, ”said one of the people involved in the decision. “Batters are going to hit the ball more often and that’s really the root of what we’re doing here.”

The Atlantic League will also introduce a “double hook” rule that governs the batsman-designate: teams can keep a DH in their line-up as long as their starting pitcher remains in play. If a manager goes to the bullpen, the new pitcher must hit or be substituted out of the game.

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This rule is a compromise between the rules in the American League, where teams can use the designated batsman for all of their pitchers, and the National League, where teams are not allowed to use any.

Moving back the hill was not expected to be part of these conversations, and it will almost certainly be a polarizing experiment. The Atlantic League attempted to push the hill two feet back before reaching its deal with MLB in 2019, but withdrew the proposal after a knockback from pitchers, some of whom threatened to leave the league.

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The new rule threatens to rekindle tension over the new experimental eye of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred for the game. Earlier this year, Manfred hired Theo Epstein, former president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs and former general manager of the Boston Red Sox, as an advisor to find new ways to improve the game’s action and pace.

“These rule changes are extremely feasible – otherwise MLB would not make them,” said one of the people involved in the discussions.

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However, if enlarging the bases and limiting displacements are considered major rule changes, moving the hill back is a massive proposition.

The Major League mound had been 60 feet 6 inches from the baseplate since prior to the 1893 season. Diamonds across the country, from those on the edges of corn fields to polished high school facilities, are built to these specifications. Few numbers, other than perhaps the 162 game season, are so sacred. Baseball has a tendency to stick to tradition and such a proposed change is unlikely to be quietly received.

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“The hypothesis that joint kinetics would increase with pitch spacing was not supported because no significant differences were found,” wrote the researchers, who found that the increased spacing allowed more vertical and horizontal breaks and possibly “counteracted the timing effect “. experienced by hits.

This study only looked at the fastball mechanics and was supported by MLB who had plenty of fodder for all skeptics. But the folks familiar with MLB’s discussions point to the response time for a fastball at 93.3 mph, which was the major league average speed in 2020. The same pitch thrown from 61 feet 6 inches is roughly equivalent to a fastball at 91.6 mph. That was the majors’ average fastball speed in 2010.