After being a part of the independents, Minor League Baseball is set to enact a new rule that’ll tweak the pickoff play.
Baseball America reported that “MiLB pitchers will be required to step off the rubber before they can throw to a base on a pickoff attempt.” Such a move will slow down the time it takes for the pitcher to throw to the base, especially left handed pitchers throwing to first base. It’s unknown exactly which classes of Minor League Baseball will have this rule but it’s expected to take place in A level baseball and possibly Double-A.
This new tweak is surely going to have consequences. For one thing, baserunners will be able to take a bigger lead. That will likely see an increase in stolen bases and also fewer double plays. That became apparent in the independent Atlantic League which utilized the rule starting at the All-Star break. The Atlantic League reported an increase in stolen bases going from 1.03 stolen bases per game in the first half of the season to 1.69 in the second half with a six percent increase in stolen base success. In addition, double plays went from .82 per game in the first half of the season to .63 in the second half.
This new rule doesn’t seem like it would necessarily shorten the game, something that’s been a bit of a talking point in baseball circles. On one hand, the chance of fewer pickoff throws mean a minimally shorter experience but it’s not like that’ll be noticeable. A pickoff throw takes a few seconds and there’s only a handful of attempts per game. Granted, this wasn’t a reason people had for this rule but anyone expecting this to magically shorten a game is not going to get what they want.
[Baseball America/Photo: Patrick Kunzer/Chicago Daily Herald]