MLB Testing Pitch Clock, Limited Pickoff Throws & More Rule Changes In Arizona Fall League
General view of baseballs
Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

As Major League Baseball has worked to increase popularity over the past several years, an array of new rules and other changes have been implemented.

Those often began in the lower levels of the Minor Leagues before being implemented on a wider scale and in some cases for an MLB season. This year saw multiple changes during the Atlantic League’s 2021 season.

Chief among them included moving the mound back one foot and a rule that would remove the designated hitter once the starting pitcher is out of a game.

Meanwhile, MLB is now using the Arizona Fall League for continued testing with a 15-second pitch clock, limited pickoff attempts, a ban on shifting and the continued exploration of an automated strike zone, according to Baseball America:

Major League Baseball confirmed that the AFL will feature most of the experimental rules changes that were introduced into the minor leagues this year.

Pitchers will be subject to a 15-second pitch clock and limited to two pickoff attempts per plate appearance, infielders will be required to remain in the dirt with two positioned on each side of second base and the size of the bases will be increased.

The automated ball-strike system, which the AFL experimented with in 2019, will be used in games played at Salt River Fields.

The current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expires on Dec. 1, so some of these rules could be implemented to the Major League level once MLB and the Players Association agree to a new deal.

MLB is also likely to eliminate the seven-inning doubleheaders and the extra innings rule that starts with a runner on second base.

Both were added in response to uncertainty with attempting to play a season during a pandemic and in an effort to protect players. Although the 2021 campaign reverted back to a full schedule, MLB kept with shortened games for doubleheaders and the extra-innings rule.

MLB focused on avoiding lockout

MLB and the MLBPA reportedly have already been negotiating a new deal, but it’s no safe bet they strike a new CBA agreement before the deadline.

The two sides have been at odds over various issues, including rule changes, competitive integrity and service-time manipulation. They most recently were unable to compromise on an agreement that would have allowed the universal DH and expanded playoffs to return for the 2021 season.

Despite this, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is confident the league will be able to avoid a work stoppage and deemed that their top priority.

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