While Major League Baseball has been experimenting with extra-inning rule changes in the past few years, the Pioneer League — an independent team designated as a MLB Partner League — is carrying things a step farther.
On Tuesday, the league announced it will implement a first-of-its-kind”Knock Out” principle that will resolve games tied after nine innings with a sudden-death home run derby.
“Beneath the rule, each team designates a hitter who receives five rebounds, with the game determined by the most home runs hit,” said a news release announcing the principle changes. “If still tied after the first’Knock Out’ around, another hitter is chosen to get a sudden-death house run face-off before a winner is declared.”
Along with this Knock Out, the team is also experimenting with a designated pinch hitter rule, allowing a player to be pinch hit for before returning into their own defensive position for the remainder of the game. Furthermore, a designated pinch runner principle allows a qualified rostered player to be pinch run for before returning to their designated defensive position for the rest of the game.
Additionally, a hitter may appeal a check swing attack decision to a base umpire. Under conventional baseball rules, only the defensive team can request an appeal.
While the Pioneer League is a spouse league with MLB, there’s no official tie with MLB experimenting with all these possible rule changes. MLB formerly announced a partnership with an independent Atlantic League to test principle changes, including transferring the pitching rubber back a foot and a double-hook rule in which a group will lose its own designated hitter when it removes a starting pitcher.
MLB also lately instituted rule changes in the minor league level involving larger bases, regulations of the change and forcing strands to step off the rubber completely prior to throwing to a base.