Arthur: Moving the mound will change everything

From SABR member Rob Arthur at Baseball Prospectus on March 15, 2019:

Last week, MLB announced a partnership with the independent Atlantic League to experiment with sweeping, major rules changes. These included robotic umpire assistance and a three-batter minimum for relievers, as well as a two-foot increase to the distance from mound to plate. While it’s widely assumed that moving the pitcher’s mound back will benefit hitters by slowing down fastballs, the truth is more complicated. A seemingly small change has the potential to significantly alter the aerodynamics of pitching, helping some pitchers and hitters even as it harms others.

The intention behind moving the mound back is undoubtedly to encourage offense, and in particular, batting average. As David Schoenfield and Jeff Passan of ESPN noted in a recent story, the impact of a few more feet of mound distance is similar to reducing the average fastball velocity by 2-3 miles per hour, which a little math reveals could boost batting average by as much as 20-30 points.

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Originally published: March 15, 2019. Last Updated: March 15, 2019.