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Expect more steals when you go to a Kernels game this year

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 12:30 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The long-awaited return of professional baseball to Cedar Rapids this week will bring with it more excitement on the basepaths because of a rule change.

The Cedar Rapids Kernels will play baseball Tuesday for the first time since 2019 after the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the 2020 minor league baseball season.

The 2021 season will look a little different in two key ways.

MORE STEALS

Major League Baseball is testing out experimental rules in each division of the minor leagues this season. For the Kernels, that rule change is aimed at more stolen bases.

The new rule requires pitchers step completely off of the pitching rubber before throwing to pick off a runner. This will give baserunners a split-second head start on trying to steal a base. The rule is expected to be even harder for left-handed pitchers because of the way they face first base. The rule resulted in a 70% increase in stolen base success rate in a test in the Atlantic League in 2019.

NEW LEAGUE

With Minor League baseball contracting teams last year, the Cedar Rapids Kernels league will look a bit different in 2021. Gone are Burlington, Clinton and Kane County from the old Midwest Baseball League.

The Kernels are now part of the High-A Class Baseball, divided into East, Central and West Divisions (the Kernels are in the Central) with teams only playing teams within their division during the regular season.

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