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MLB to experiment with 128-year-old mound distance

Posted April. 16, 2021 07:29,   

Updated April. 16, 2021 07:29


Major League Baseball (MLB) will experiment with the mound distance by moving it back 30 centimeters in an attempt to make baseball games more entertaining. The distance from a hitter to a catcher, or from home plate to the pitching rubber to be more precise, has been 18.44 meters for 128 years since 1893.

MLB, however, announced on Thursday that it would increase the distance by 30 centimeters to 18.75 metes during the 2021 Atlantic League season in order to curb the league’s rising strikeout rate and increase the number of balls in play, which will make games more fun for baseball fans.

Increasing pitch velocity played a part in driving up the strikeout rate. The average fastball velocity recorded 93.3 mph last year, while the strikeout rate per at-bat reached 23.4 percent up from 16.4 percent in 2005. An increase in the height of pitchers has also contributed to the trend.

The pitching rubber experiment will be implemented in the second half of the Atlantic League season so that the data can be compared to the first-half data. During the first half, the pitching rubber will remain 18.44 meters apart from home plate.

MLB has also decided to implement “double hook” that links the designated hitter and the starting pitcher. 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. MLB said it was to increase the value of starters.

Heon-Jae Lee uni@donga.com