There might soon be a new way to reach base in Major League Baseball.
OK, so maybe it’s a long shot the rule ever goes into effect at the big league level, but the Atlantic League — an independent baseball league that recently entered into a three-year agreement with MLB to serve as a testing ground for potential rule changes — will allow batters to “steal first base” in the second half of its season, according to The Washington Post.
“Any pitch on any count not caught in flight will be considered a live ball, and a batter may run to first base, similar to a dropped third strike,” The Post’s Jacob Bogage wrote in an article published Wednesday.
The rule change was mentioned as part of a longer piece on the implementation of “robot umpires” in the Atlantic League, but it’s a rather crazy concept that certainly would increase the importance of defense behind the plate and control on the mound. It’s also interesting to think about what other experimental rules MLB might ask the Atlantic League to play around with moving forward.
The Atlantic League is an eight-team conference with seven teams on the East Coast and one in Texas. As part of the aforementioned agreement, major league officials can install rule changes and study their effects on game play, strategy, tempo and prospect development, with MLB promising to “enhance its scouting coverage of the Atlantic League” in return.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred can consider implementing new rules after his league’s labor agreement expires in 2021. It’s hard to imagine “stealing first base” becoming the norm, but MLB clearly is looking for ways to spice things up in the future.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images