MLB's radical rule experiments go beyond robot umps

MLB's radical rule experiments go beyond robot umps

MLB's radical rule experiments go beyond robot umps

MLB historically has used the Minor Leagues to experiment with potential rule changes, but their three-year agreement with the Atlantic League offers a setting where former Major League players who are hopeful of a comeback can provide feedback.

Distance from pitching rubber to home plate extended by 24 inches, in the second half of the season only, with no change to mound height or slope. There could be more on the way.

Welcome to a league where robotic umpires aren't even the most controversial change.

The league said the decision is two-pronged: It should increase player safety by allowing fielders and runners more room on the base, and it hopes batting average on ground balls and stolen base percentage will slightly improve by making the bases closer together.

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The agreement between the MLB and the Atlantic League runs for three years.

Major League Baseball and the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball jointly announced yesterday radical changes in the way the games will be played in the Atlantic League in 2019.

One of the rules that was previously tested in the Atlantic League and is being implemented in Spring Training games this year is the pitch clock, which has gone over rather smoothly. The agreement covers the transfer of players from ALPB to Major League Baseball and enhances MLB's scouting coverage of ALPB games.

There are eight teams in the Atlantic League: High Point Rockers, High Point, N.C.; Long Island Ducks, Central Islip, N.Y.; New Britain Bees, New Britain, Conn.; Somerset Patriots, Bridgewater, N.J.; Lancaster Barnstormers, Lancaster, Pa.; Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, Waldorf, Md.; Sugar Land Skeeters, Sugar Land, Tex. and York Revolution, York, Pa.

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