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MLB is going to try more experimental rules in the Atlantic League this year

... including a designated runner.

Nico Hoerner steals second against the Dodgers
Getty Images

This is something you should pay at least some attention to this year, because when Major League Baseball tries out experimental rules in the Atlantic League (“ALPB”), a “partner league” with MLB, some of them do wind up in actual MLB games. This includes the pitch timer and larger bases, among other things.

Tuesday, MLB announced three experimental rules that will be used in the Atlantic League this season, beginning on the league’s Opening Day, Friday, April 28.

  • New to the Atlantic League this season will be the use of a Designated Pinch Runner. Each club will list a player who is not otherwise in the starting lineup as a designated pinch runner. That player may then be substituted at any point into the game as a baserunner. The player who is substituted for, as well as the pinch runner, may then return to the game without penalty.

COMMENT: Given that the league has wanted to increase action and stolen bases — and with the new MLB bases, that seems to be working — this is another way of trying to do that. With players used in those situations able to return to the game, I kind of like this idea. It would likely result in players like Terrance Gore and Billy Hamilton rating roster spots. Just don’t let it give MLB teams the idea that a track star like Herb Washington, used by the A’s in 1974 and 1975 with no baseball experience, could do this sort of thing. The player still would have to have some baseball smarts.


The idea of a Designated Pinch Runner...

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    (45 votes)
  • 73%
    (299 votes)
  • 15%
    (65 votes)
409 votes total Vote Now
  • Unlike the new MLB rule which allows a pitcher to disengage from the pitching rubber twice during an at-bat, the Atlantic League test will permit only a single disengagement per at-bat in 2023.

COMMENT: If they want to turbocharge stolen bases, this’ll do it. Just one disengagement? Runners will be taking off all the time. They already are in many MLB games even with two disengagements allowed. I’d like to see the results before I form a strong opinion here one way or the other.


Allowing only one pitcher disengagement per at-bat...

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Great idea!
    (10 votes)
  • 80%
    Nope — keep giving the pitcher two
    (289 votes)
  • 17%
    Too early to tell
    (62 votes)
361 votes total Vote Now
  • The ALPB will continue the use of the “Double-Hook” DH rule, which allows clubs to use the designated hitter throughout the game provided that the club’s starting pitcher has completed at least five innings. If the starter fails to make it through the fifth, the club then loses the DH for the remainder of the game.

COMMENT: No, no, a billion times no. Why does MLB want to make pitchers bat again, at all? Talk about gimmicks — this is a gimmick. What if a pitcher is struggling through the fifth inning but the team doesn’t want to lose its best hitter, their DH? Do you force that pitcher to finish that inning? What if a pitcher gets injured in the second inning? That shouldn’t force a team to lose its DH. Just keep the DH. This is a solution in search of a problem.


The "Double-Hook" DH proposal...

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Love it!
    (40 votes)
  • 78%
    Hate it!
    (266 votes)
  • 10%
    Don’t care either way
    (34 votes)
340 votes total Vote Now

About these experimental rules, MLB Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations Morgan Sword said in a statement: “We thank the Atlantic League for their continued partnership. In recent years, the ALPB’s experimental rules have aimed to emphasize athleticism, improved pace of play and other means of giving fans the game they want to see. We are excited for another great season of Atlantic League baseball and the entertainment that it will bring to fans.”

The first two of these rules, in my view, are worth doing. Burn the third one with fire.