Major League Baseball recently announced a new set of experimental rules will be tested during the 2021 Atlantic League season.
Among them include the “double-hook” rule, which essentially is a compromise of the traditional style of National League baseball and the American League’s use of the designated hitter.
Teams will begin each game with a designated hitter but lose the spot in the lineup as soon as the starting pitcher is removed. The hope behind the change is that teams will leave their starting pitchers in longer.
Another rule being tested is moving the pitching rubber back one foot (60’6″ to 61’6″) to provide batters more time to react to pitches.
The ultimate goal is for batters to make contact more frequently, and thus, put more balls into play to create more action. “The mound distance, I understand. I think a foot might be aggressive, but that’s my ignorant opinion. So we’ll see,” Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts recently said.
“I love that (losing DH when starting pitcher is removed). I think as a baseball fanatic and student of the game, that adds a different element of strategy. Especially in my chair, as far as when you’re going to pull the starter and lose the DH. I love that.
“So to get the ball rolling with that will be fun to keep an eye on.”
The double-hook rule is similar to the idea Dodgers president of baseball Andrew Friedman proposed last year, which reportedly was being discussed by the league as a possibility.
The NL adopted the DH during the abbreviated 2020 season but reverted back to pitchers hitting this year after MLB and the players’ union failed to reach an agreement. However, there’s speculation the DH could permanently return to the NL in the next CBA.
Roberts thinks testing rules in Atlantic League will be beneficial
MLB first started testing new experimental rules in Atlantic League games during the 2019 season and have since extended their previous agreement to continue doing so through 2023.
Roberts believes the partnership will help the sport as a whole. “I do think that it should be a tool as far as Minor League Baseball, because it is about development. It’s about getting guys ready for the big leagues,” he said.
“If you have to kind of throw in some trials, just because you’ve done something for so long, doesn’t mean you can’t do it. That philosophy I think holds true now in the sense of we haven’t always used Minor Leagues as a guinea pig, but I think to give us accurate information and data, I think it’s smart.”
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