Earlier this year, there was an uproar in the baseball world when it was revealed that the Atlantic League would go ahead with MLB’s experimental movement of the mound.
When Indy Ball Island first reported the change in August, players were concerned about how much it would change the game and if the move would ultimately injure pitchers.
There were even a few players who ended up on the inactive list or were contemplating retirement over their concern and issues.
It was also rumored that if players or coaches were to speak out negatively about the changes, they would be banned from playing in the MLB or in any of the partner leagues. Clearly, the MLB was expecting a lot of outrage when they decided to continue with their experiment.
But as the New York Post reported, all of the concern was blown out of proportion as not much has really changed in the Atlantic League.
There are a few slightly noticeable differences…
From the adjustment’s implementation on Aug. 3 through Sept. 19, as per MLB (reported by the NYPost):
• Run scoring is up by .22 runs per game.
• Slugging percentage is up 26 points, a by-product of home runs being up from 2.9 percent of all outcomes to 3.6 percent. “I think that’s probably the most meaningful thing that has happened,” Sword said. “Twenty points of slugging is not a lot, but directionally, it’s what we were hoping for.”
• Strikeouts are up a tick, from 18.3 percent to 18.4. “I couldn’t explain that one to you,” Sword said In conjunction with that, the batting average on balls in play has dropped from .324 to .320.
• There’s a “slight increase” in the percentage of fastballs thrown and a “very small decrease” in the number of sliders and curveballs thrown.
But overall, the one foot increase from the mound to the plate seemed to bring little changes and no directly reported injuries (that I have seen) – a big concern of a lot of players over a month ago.
Most players, pitchers and hitters alike, didn’t seem to notice.
Said Scott Harkin, who pitched six innings of one-run ball for the Ducks that night, picking up a 4-2 win over the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs: “Honestly, I don’t even notice it.”
Said Ducks outfielder LJ Mazzilli: “I think a lot of people got ahead of themselves before it actually happened. They really were opinionated early on, and I was just trying to take it in and let me see for myself. And then as soon as I got in, that first game, that first fastball I saw, it was like the exact same as what I’ve been seeing my whole life. I was like, ‘This is not as crazy as people were making it seem.’ ”NY Post
And even when some pitchers reported a slight difference, such as Long Island Ducks RHP Joe Iorio, he was able to overcome it quickly because that’s always the goal of the game.
Ducks pitcher Joe Iorio, a native of West Islip, said he had to adjust his arm slot to throw his off-speed pitches: “I’m trying to get it to a different spot now, because he’s a foot back. The hitter obviously has a little more time to see it.”
Yet Iorio added: “It’s definitely an adjustment, but at the end of the day, we’ve been pitching our whole lives, so you feel like you can figure it out pretty quickly. But once you get in the game, it’s a constant adjustment, and that’s pitching, anyway. Whether it’s the regular distance or not, you’re always adjusting and trying to fine-tune your pitches.”NY Post
If you would like to read more about the effects and responses to the movement of the pitcher’s mound or about the other rule changes put into place in the Atlantic League, check out Ken Davidoff’s in-depth article, MLB’s mound experiment an underwhelming minor league innovation, from the New York Post HERE.