Atlantic League Tweaks Rules Ahead Of 2022 Season

Image credit: Tracy McGrady #1 of the Sugar Land Skeeters warms up in the bullpen before throwing against the Somerset Patriots at Constellation Field on May 10, 2014 in Sugar Land, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, the Atlantic League, an official Partner League with Major League Baseball, announced a few tweaks to its rule book. The changes include an alteration to an existing rule and the other returns an experiment from the 2019 season.

During the 2021 season, the Atlantic League tried out the double-hook DH adjustment, which stipulated that teams would only get a DH as long as the starting pitcher was in the game. If the starter got shelled and lasted just an inning, the DH would have to be removed from the lineup as well.

Now, the league is introducing a tweak that rewards starting pitcher longevity. If a team’s starter lasts a full five innings, a team will be allowed to keep its DH for the rest of the game.

The second rule returns the dropped-pitch rule from 2019, which essentially allowed hitters to “steal” first base. The premise is that a hitter is allowed to break for first base on any pitch not caught in the air, no matter the count. 

The announcement notes that the rule is intended to reward both strong defense from catchers as well as athletic players who can take advantage of mistakes that lead to passed balls and wild pitches. 

“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,” MLB senior vice president for on-field operations Michael Hill said.  “Testing in the Atlantic League and throughout the minors will provide us with more valuable feedback and data that can be taken into consideration.”  


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