MLB is trying to right the sinking ship of offense by experimenting with more rule changes. We know Big Data is causing hitters to become free swingers and not contact hitters. But constant rule changes to try to increase scoring is bad for baseball.
Major League Baseball announced that it will experiment with a pair of new rules during the 2021 Atlantic League season: a “double-hook” implementation of the designated hitter and moving the pitching rubber back one foot. MLB and the Atlantic League began a partnership back in 2019 wherein the latter would serve as a testing ground for rule changes and pace-of-play alterations.
The “double-hook” designated hitter rule will be in place for the entirety of the 2021 Atlantic League season. Under the new rule, a team will lose its designated hitter once the starting pitcher is pulled from the game. From that point forth, the team will need to either deploy a pinch-hitter or allow a relief pitcher to bat in what was the designated hitter’s place.
The goal of the rule, per the league, is to “incentivize teams to leave their starting pitchers in longer, increase the value of starters who can work deeper into games and increase the strategic element in the late innings of a game.”
Turning to the pitching rubber experiment, that change will only be implemented in the second half of the Atlantic League season. (The first-half data will then be compared to second-half data as a direct point of comparison.) MLB’s release notes that the average fastball velocity has risen from 91.6 mph in 2010 to 93.3 mph in 2021. The league posits that a hitter’s reaction time on a 93.3 mph pitch thrown from 61 feet, six inches is approximately the same as the reaction time on a 91.6 mph pitch thrown from 60 feet, six inches.
Trying to use statistics to prove your case will not work here. These rule changes will only HURT pitchers. Pitchers moving back a foot will throw off all the mechanics and location control they have learned their entire careers. Moving back the rubber will mean some pitchers will throw harder in order to keep their velocity level at the plate. That will lead to more arm and shoulder injuries.
The double-hook DH rule is worse than the regular DH rule. You penalize the team for taking out a starting pitcher, but you are really penalizing a pitcher by keeping him on the mound longer than he can physically go. Again, if a pitcher is struggling and needs to be pulled but you lose a valuable bat in the process, what is a manager to do? Keep a pitcher out their to hurt themselves mentally or physically? Besides, the whole DH rule was to stop pitchers getting hurt at the plate (HBP) or running the bases. Now, you want to have those issues thrown at relief pitchers? And where is a manager to get all those pinch hitters when rosters are so tight?
And these rule changes do nothing to improve the game. Like the runner on second in extra innings, it is more a distraction than valid solution. If you want offense, team should look at the Dodgers who are tearing up the league. If you want offense, teach your hitters how to hit instead of swinging at the fences in a "home run or bust" mentality. Tell your players that a strike out is a bad thing that can get you benched instead of being "just another out."