Crizer: How to play baseball in the Atlantic League

From Zach Crizer at Baseball Prospectus on August 22, 2019:

Ramón Cabrera expects to hear something new every spring. He’s a catcher. This is how it goes. The players who must prepare to hit, work in heavy gear, and know every pitcher’s plan of attack are often the first to feel the game’s winds of change or even small shifts in pressure.

A 29-year-old who appeared in big-league short stints for the Reds in 2015 and 2016, he encountered a different sort of newness this season with the Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks. As part of a much-discussed agreement with Major League Baseball, the top independent circuit is testing out a variety of experimental rules that — you guessed it — spell upheaval and adjustment for those who don the tools of ignorance.

The most discussed and most game-changing rules in the Atlantic League — automated strike zones and a ban on pickoff moves, respectively — have taken a humongous, career-defining onus off of catchers to win strikes, and energized the running game in such a way, as Rob Arthur noted here at BP last week, that begs for intervention from behind the plate. In other words, they call for a dramatically different set of priorities. At least in theory.

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Originally published: August 22, 2019. Last Updated: August 22, 2019.