MLB will continue testing of the Automated Ball-Strike (ABS) system, sometimes referred to as a robo-ump, in an affiliated league (the Atlantic League is an MLB Partner League), but it’s not clear whether the move of the pitching rubber will continue elsewhere. The Atlantic League served as a testbed of a variety of rule changes for MLB during the course of the 2021 season, as did various MiLB leagues; some of those experiments, such as a larger base, the loss of the DH when a starting pitcher leaves the game, a continuation of automated balls and strikes technology, larger bases and a 15-second time clock will continue. Most of the changes, save the time clock, did not have much of an impact on the game.
“As we enter 2022, we reaffirm to players and fans that ball-strike calls, and the distance of the pitching rubber, will return to accepted norms,” said Atlantic League President Rick White in a press statement. “We retain several past MLB test features, such as 17” bases, extra innings tiebreaker and anti-shift rules, among others. The test rules and equipment are transitional by definition: Some elements remain, others are tweaked, and still others are abandoned. That’s why MLB and the ALPB conduct the tests.”
The Atlantic League and MLB will announce 2022 test rules later this spring. “We are honored to pioneer the future of the game with Major League Baseball,” said White. “We’re proud that many tests today will find their way to the big leagues in the future. We will continue to closely corroborate on tests with MLB.” The experimental playing rule and equipment changes are part of a multi-year agreement between MLB and ALPB.
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