Major League Baseball (MLB) today announced two experimental playing rules for use during the 2022 Atlantic League (ALPB) Championship Season. The rules are designed to create more action on the field, reward athleticism, and to raise the profile of starting pitchers.
Other promising rules first tested in the Atlantic League, such as Automated Balls-Strikes (ABS), have been expanded to affiliated play in the Minor Leagues, while the ALPB continues to pioneer rules and equipment tests. The experimental rules below were previously tested in the Atlantic League on a limited basis. Below is a summary of the experimental rules that will be tested to start the 2022 Atlantic League season:
- Double-Hook Designated Hitter Adjustment: The double-hook designated hitter will be modified. In 2021, teams lost their designated hitter when they removed the starting pitcher from the game. However, in 2022, if the starter is able to complete at least five innings, the designated hitter will be allowed to remain in the lineup for the entirety of the game. This rule intends to place emphasis on longer outings by starting pitchers.
- Dropped Pitch Rule: As in the second half of 2019, batters will be able to advance to first base on any pitch that is not caught in the air by the catcher, even with first base occupied by a runner. Those who get to first base safely will be awarded a hit. This rule will increase the importance of taking care of the baseball (e.g., pitching with command, receiving, and blocking pitches) and reward athletic players who are able to capitalize on wild pitches and passed balls.
Michael Hill, MLB’s Senior Vice President for On-Field Operations, said: “Given the positive results of recent years, we are continuing to prioritize the kinds of experimental rules that many baseball fans routinely discuss and want to learn more about. Testing in the Atlantic League and throughout the Minors will provide us with more valuable feedback and data that can be taken into consideration.”
Rick White, President of the Atlantic League, said: “We continue to be excited about ALPB’s role in helping Major League Baseball determine the future of the game. We are proud many of the tests pioneered in the Atlantic League are reaching a broader audience throughout all levels of professional baseball.”