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Per the numbers, 2021 MiLB rule changes didn’t really matter

MiLBThe results of the 2021 rule changes tested across Minor League Baseball and the Atlantic League: they apparently had little impact on the game, except perhaps a shorter pitch clock.

You’ll recall the full list of changes tested out in the MLB Partner League, as detailed here and here: a move of the pitching rubber a foot back, and the loss of the DH when a starting pitcher leaves the game, a continuation of automated balls and strikes technology, larger bases, a 15-second time clock, and more. While there is still plenty of the Atlantic League season to be played, an early look at the results of the rule changes used in the second half of the season by the New York Post was pretty clear: the rule changes didn’t really impact the game all that much, save for the shorter pitch clock used in High-A West. From the Post regarding the shift of the pitching rubber:

Well, about a month and a half into this endeavor, the predominant reaction to this seemingly radical alteration might be … apathy.

“Nothing huge,” Long Island Ducks manager Wally Backman said recently, prior to a home game in Central Islip. “I’m shocked, because I thought there’d be a big difference. But there hasn’t been.”….

That aligns with the overall impressions sent to MLB’s central command. Said Morgan Sword, the league’s executive vice president of baseball operations: “What we’ve seen in the data and the feedback gathering, it has just not been that big a deal. The impact is very muted. We probably want to reserve judgment until we get the full sample to talk about that.”…

In all, “It’s a very mild effect that we’ve seen,” Swords said. “’I’m very glad that it hasn’t required a dramatic adjustment for players and hasn’t resulted in a lot of injuries. That’s all good news.”

Not quite sure this came out the way Sword intended; it sounds like he was almost expecting a lot of injuries and dramatic adjustments. And we’ll be eager to see a longer-term study of more results: so far we are seeing more homers and more strikeouts, as well as more scoring. Definitely read the Post article for an in-depth look at the changes.

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