DeLessio: Picking up the pace in the Atlantic League

From Joe DeLessio at Sports on Earth on September 9, 2014, with mention of SABR member Tal Smith:

In the eighth inning of a game against the York Revolution on the first weekend in August, Brendan Harris, an infielder for the Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks, was intentionally walked. The free pass got an ovation from Ducks fans at Bethpage Ballpark, but the cheers weren’t for the baserunner as much as for the method used to put him there.

Rather than having York pitcher Dan Cortes throw four intentional balls to Harris, the Revolution simply informed the home plate umpire of their intentions, and Harris was awarded first base without seeing a single pitch. Fans weren’t just watching a key moment in a tight game; they were watching the beginning of grand baseball experiment.

Days earlier, the Atlantic League had introduced five new measures (including one that allowed for automatic intentional walks) designed to speed up the pace of play — ones that would be tested for the remainder of the 2014 season and then studied in advance of Opening Day 2015. But it’s not just Atlantic League executives interested in the lessons learned from the roughly 10-week trial. Many others in the sport — including top executives at Major League Baseball — are watching, too.

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Originally published: September 9, 2014. Last Updated: September 9, 2014.