MLB, Atlantic League Agree to Restore Pitcher’s Mound to Normal Distance and Drop the Automated Ball Strike System
The Atlantic League, an independent baseball league that has a partnership agreement with Major League Baseball, will use standard pitching rubber dimensions and again have balls and strikes called by home plate umpires in 2022, the league said.
Last year the league tested a 61-foot, 6-inch mound and the automated striking zone sometimes referred to as “robot umps”. It will go back to a 60-foot, 6-inch hill and drop the automated ball-hitting system in 2022.
“As we move into 2022, we assure players and fans that ball strike calls and pitching surface removal will return to accepted norms,” Atlantic League President Rick White said in a statement. “We’re keeping several previous MLB testing features, including 17-inch bases, additional innings tiebreakers, and anti-shift rules. The test rules and devices are temporary by definition: some elements are retained, others are tweaked, and others are abandoned. That is why the MLB and the ALPB carry out the tests. “
As mentioned earlier, the Atlantic League will maintain several other experimental rule changes, including larger bases and the tiebreaker rule for extra innings. The league implemented the 61-foot, 6-inch mound and automated strike zone midway through last season, and as our RJ Anderson reported, the players got fed up and almost went on strike.
To be clear, the Atlantic League’s return to the norm doesn’t mean the MLB is giving up on those potential rule changes. It just means the Atlantic League won’t use them. The MLB deployed the automated ball strike system in a few smaller leagues in 2021, and chances are the league will expand its stakes in the future.
The MLB and the Atlantic League have had an official partnership since September 2020. Under the agreement, the MLB can test rule changes in the Atlantic League, and in return, the MLB has equipped the eight Atlantic League baseball stadiums with radar tracking technology (ie statcast) and provided statistical services.
The Atlantic League will expand to 10 teams in 2022, all located in the Mid-Atlantic region. Jeremy Jeffress, Mat Latos, Logan Morrison and Danny Valencia are among the former MLB players who played in the Atlantic League last year.