Introduction to MLB Lowering the Pitcher’s Mound
Major League Baseball (MLB) has a long and storied history when it comes to the rules and regulations of the game. From rule changes to equipment advancements, MLB has always been at the forefront of innovation and safety. One of the most significant rule changes in recent memory was the decision to lower the pitcher’s mound. The decision, which was made in 1969, has had a lasting impact on the game and its players. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at why MLB lowered the pitcher’s mound and the implications of the rule change.
What Is the Pitcher’s Mound?
Before we dive into why MLB lowered the pitcher’s mound, it’s important to understand what the mound is and why it’s there. The pitcher’s mound is the raised area of dirt from which the pitcher throws the ball to the batter. It’s an elevated surface that has been part of the game since its inception. The pitcher’s mound is 18 inches high and 60 feet, 6 inches from home plate. The mound is the highest point on the field and the distance from home plate is measured from the top of the mound.
Why Was the Pitcher’s Mound Lowered?
In 1969, MLB made the decision to lower the pitcher’s mound from 15 inches to 10 inches. The rule change was implemented to balance the game in favor of the hitters. At the time, pitchers had an advantage over hitters with the elevated mound and the league wanted to level the playing field. The lower mound allowed hitters to get a better read on the pitch and increased the number of home runs hit in the league.
The Impact of Lowering the Pitcher’s Mound
The decision to lower the pitcher’s mound had an immediate impact on the game. The following are some of the most notable changes that resulted from the rule change:
1. More Home Runs
One of the most significant changes that occurred after lowering the mound was an increase in home runs. With the lower mound, hitters were able to get a better read on the pitch, resulting in more home runs hit. The number of home runs hit in the league increased by nearly 50% in the first season after the rule change.
2. Improved Offense
Not only did the lower mound lead to more home runs, but it also resulted in an improved overall offensive performance. With the lower mound, hitters were able to hit for higher averages and get on base more often. The league batting average rose from .237 in 1969 to .250 in 1970.
3. More Strikeouts
While the lower mound benefited hitters, it also had a negative effect on pitchers. With the lower mound, pitchers were unable to throw pitches with as much velocity or movement. This led to an increase in strikeouts as hitters had an easier time hitting the ball. The number of strikeouts in the league rose from 5.8 per game in 1969 to 6.4 per game in 1970.
4. Changes in Pitching Delivery
The lower mound also forced pitchers to make changes to their delivery. With the lower mound, pitchers had to adjust their arm angle and release point to compensate for the reduced height. This led to a change in pitching styles, with more pitchers relying on off-speed pitches and breaking balls.
MLB’s Reaction to the Lower Mound
MLB’s decision to lower the pitcher’s mound was met with a mixed reaction. Some praised the move, arguing that it helped balance the game in favor of the hitters. Others saw it as an unnecessary change that gave too much of an advantage to the hitters.
The Debate Over the Lower Mound
The debate over the lower mound continues to this day. Some argue that the lower mound has been beneficial for the game, as it has led to more home runs and higher offensive numbers. Others argue that the lower mound has made the game less interesting, as pitchers are unable to throw as hard as they used to.
MLB’s decision to lower the pitcher’s mound in 1969 had a lasting impact on the game. The rule change resulted in more home runs, higher batting averages, and more strikeouts. While the decision to lower the mound was met with a mixed reaction, it has undoubtedly had a positive effect on the game. The lower mound has helped balance the game in favor of the hitters, making the game more exciting and interesting.