Major League Baseball will experiment with a new rule in one of their independent affiliate leagues that will allow batters to ‘steal first’ after a wild pitch or passed ball no matter what the count is.
The Atlantic League, which has been the MLB’s guinea pig when it comes to revolutionary rule change proposals including extended instant replay, banning defensive shifts, pitch clocks, three-batter minimums for pitchers, and even robotic umpires, is now ready to introduce perhaps its most bizarre experiment yet.
Much like a dropped third strike or wild pitch on a swinging strike three that allows batters to attempt to run to first, under these new rule proposals, hitters would be allowed to sprint to first base no matter what the count, making every pitch of a game that much more important.
According to official league language:
“Any pitch on any count caught in flight will be considered a live ball a batter may run to first base, similar to a third strike.
With the league’s labor agreement to expire in 2021, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred appears to be aligning himself with an innovative and rather radical future for the game.
No reports have been released on how the play will officially be scored in the statsheet and how it will impact on-base percentage numbers, but the proposed rule change is far from comical and innocent.
Literally every single pitch of a baseball game will now matter under these rules, with wild pitchers, defensive-lacking catchers, and speedy hitters potentially having their roles magnified (and vilified) in monumental levels.