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Brett Jodie Discusses New Atlantic League Rules

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. – In conjunction with a three-year partnership with Major League Baseball, the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) announced four additional rules which fundamentally change the framework of the American pastime in a press release Thursday morning.

  • Pitcher is required to step off the rubber in order to attempt a pickoff 
  •  One (1) foul bunt is permitted with two strikes before a strikeout is called 
  •  Batters may “steal” first base on any pitch not caught in flight (the batter can be thrown out if he attempts to run) 
  •  “Check swing” rule made more batter-friendly

Somerset Patriots manager Brett Jodie said that the “steal” first base rule and the pickoff rule will have a big effect on the game.

“I think it’s going to affect a lefty pitcher more so with the pickoffs at first,” Jodie said. “You have to disengage from the rubber so there’s no more read [on the runner.] It’s tough for the pitchers too because that’s kind of a reactionary pickoff. A lefty might be instinctively going home with a pitch but then sees a runner take off and that’s going to be a balk now. You train yourself for so many years, so that’s going to be tough to get away from.”

He said that he imagines an increase in stolen bases against lefty pitchers as a result of the new rule.

Previously, a batter could only take first if it was on a third strike. Now, batters would be allowed to “steal” first base on a passed ball or wild pitch no matter the count.

According to the adapted league rulebook the batter becomes a runner when “the catcher fails to catch any pitch and the batter immediately chooses to become a runner. The batter shall be deemed to have chosen to become a runner under the rule if (i) both of the batter’s feet leave the batter’s box, and (ii) the batter, in the umpire’s judgement, demonstrates or otherwise creates an impression of his intent to advance to first base.”

A force play scenario would be created if a runner is on first base.

The term “stolen base” could be a bit misleading due to the fact that if a runner reaches first base successfully, a stolen base will not be awarded, but entered as a fielder’s choice for scoring purposes.

“I’m curious to see how that [rule] pans out whether guys are going to want to sacrifice their AB to take a chance to make it to first because if they do commit to it and they get thrown out, then they’re out,” Jodie said. “It can be an 0-1 or 1-0 pitch or whatever. If they choose to go they’re forfeiting the rest of their AB.”

As far as the check swing rule is concerned with being more batter friendly, Jodie believes the umpire would need to see a “full breaking of the wrist.”

At the beginning of the 2019 season one of the most anticipated rule changes was the use of an automated ball-strike system (ABS) to determine pitches using a digital strike zone. The system was quietly tested at the eight ballparks throughout the first half of the season.

ABS debuted at the professional level on July 10 at the ALPB All-Star game in York, Pa. where home plate umpire Brian deBrauwere wore an Apple AirPod connected to an iPhone in his pocket. He announced calls transmitted to him as a normal umpire would.

Some of the earlier rule adjustments include the elimination of mound visits from players and coaches with the exceptions of injury and taking the pitcher out of the game, increased base sizes from 15 to 18 inch squares, a time reduction from 2:05 to 1:45 for pitching changes and in-between innings and pitchers must face a minimum of three batters or reach the end of an inning before they can exit the game, unless the pitcher becomes injured.

While Jodie isn’t speaking on behalf of Major League Baseball with the new rules, he said that he thinks there would be more action and entertainment. 

“Whether or not these rules allow that to happen I don’t know. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Follow Dylan Manfre on Twitter for the latest on the Somerset Patriots and the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

Dylan Manfre

Dylan is a rising sophomore at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey and covers the Somerset Patriots and Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. He is also the Sports Editor of Rider's student newspaper, The Rider News.
Dylan Manfre
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