Stealing First Base Among New Rule Changes For Atlantic League During Second Half Of 2019 Season

Major League Baseball announced an additional set of rule changes that will find their way to the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball during the second half of the 2019 Atlantic League Championship Season, which begins on Friday, July 12.

One of the alterations is that pitchers must now step off the rubber before attempting to pickoff a baserunner. In MLB, this is not required, as pitchers are permitted to throw to any base without coming off the mound.

Another rule change is that one foul bunt will be allowed with a two-strike count before a strikeout is recorded. The first foul bunt attempt with two strikes was previously treated as a regular strikeout.

Among the other additions include a hitter’s ability to now “steal” first base when a catcher doesn’t receive the ball on the fly. This includes pass balls or wild pitches. A batter can be thrown out at first base in the event he tries advancing when a ball gets past the backstop.

Finally, the check swing rule will now heavily favor batters. More often than not when a hitter checks his swing, the pitch will be deemed a ball instead of a strike.

The new set of playing rules will be implemented in addition to the changes that were installed prior to the start of the 2019 season.

Those alterations include home plate umpires now being assisted by a radar tracking system and an MLB-defined strike zone. Moreover, mound visits were essentially banned with the exception of pitching changes and medical checkups.

Pitchers must also face a minimum of three batters or reach the end of an inning before they can leave the game, unless said pitcher becomes injured. This is a rule that will make its way to MLB for the start of the 2020 season.

Among other changes include the size of bases being increased from 15 inches square to 18 inches square. In an effort to shorten game times, the period between innings and pitching changes were additionally reduced from two minutes and five seconds to one minute and 45 seconds.

While most of these playing rules will likely never find their way to MLB, some around the sport have expressed their displeasure with the experimenting that is taking place in ALPB.

Rich Hill was not a fan of the initial rule changes that shaped up the Atlantic League and considers himself old school who opposes any drastic alterations to the way baseball is played.