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Atlantic League Returns to Human Home Plate Umpires, Moves Mound Back Up for 2022


Andrew Cohen

The Atlantic League will return to having human home plate umpires and move its mound back to the conventional 60-feet, six-inches for its 2022 season. The league has deployed an Automated Ball-Strike (ABS) system since 2019, while last season’s second half was played with a 61-foot, six-inch pitching distance to home plate through trials conducted with MLB.

 The Atlantic League called its experimental ABS deployment “successful” in a press release on Thursday, noting MLB will continue testing its automated umpiring system in an affiliated minor league next season. In 2021, MLB trialed ABS in a Low-A league using Hawk-Eye’s computer vision cameras, while the Atlantic League’s ABS system over the past three seasons utilized TrackMan radars.

 MLB extended its partnership in 2020 with the Atlantic League to continue using the league to test rule changes through 2023. The Atlantic League will retain other MLB test rules such as 17-inch bases, extra inning tiebreaker and anti-shift rules. More collaborations with MLB will be announced this spring.

 “The test rules and equipment are transitional by definition: Some elements remain, others are tweaked, and still others are abandoned,” Atlantic League president Rick White said in a statement. “We’re proud that many tests today will find their way to the big leagues in the future. We will continue to closely corroborate on tests with MLB.”


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