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MLB is testing out some radical new rule changes in the minors during the 2021 season.
Major League Baseball always seems to be experimenting with new rules under the leadership of Rob Manfred. The current MLB Commissioner is always seeking ways to speed up games and also provide more excitement on the field.
Baseball purists will not like this. However, change is likely coming. The minor leagues will feature a full list of rule changes including one that could ban the shift for good at the MLB level one day.
MLB experimenting with rule changes in MiLB
The larger bases being used at the Triple-A level actually seems like a great idea. This ensures more safety for first basemen who will have some extra space and will hopefully not have to fear about getting stepped on by runners. Stolen base numbers should also go up since so many steals are split-second plays.
Arguably the most notable rule change of all is the defensive shift rule at the Double-A level. The shift has taken over baseball in the age of analytics and plenty of pull hitters are neutralized because of their tendencies. Banning the shift entirely would be bad news for defense, but great news for offense all around the league. Power hitters who always hit into the shift would rejoice as well.
The Low-A leagues are where we see the “robot umpires” get tested out. This system was used in the past in lower levels, but obviously not at the MLB level. The “ABS” system being tested once again could mean it is used at higher levels in the future.
A natural progression would be for rules to get tested out at the Triple-A level before finally being made at the MLB level. That could mean bigger bases are coming to the majors in 2022 if they get good reviews in Triple-A.
Taking out defensive shifts would totally change how games are managed. But Manfred has shown a desire to institute changes at will and owners would likely go for more action in the form of offense during games. The rule being used at the Triple-A level in 2022 would prove it is coming sooner than later.