Major League Baseball likes to test its most radical rule changes in the independent Atlantic League instead of the minor leagues. The latest idea to get a trial run there is particularly notable.
According to Jayson Stark of The Athletic, the Atlantic League will experiment with moving the mound back a foot in conjunction with MLB. That would put the distance between the mound and home plate at 61 feet, six inches, and will only take place during the second half of the Atlantic League season.
The reason for the test is essentially the increased velocity pitchers are generating on their fastballs. Velocity and strikeout rate are both at an all-time high in MLB, and it’s not rare to see teams trotting out multiple pitchers that can easily hit 95 MPH on the radar gun. MLB wants to see if moving the mound back might counteract that velocity and generate a bit more contact.
The Atlantic League will also implement a double hook rule. This would result in teams losing the DH after replacing the starting pitcher. Baseball believes such a change could incentivize teams to stick with their starting pitchers for longer.
MLB has been testing some other major rule changes at other levels of baseball. The mound change would certainly be the most radical.