SEC trying interesting new rules for 2024 SEC Baseball Tournament

The SEC is making an experimental rule change for their 2024 baseball tournament.
At Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, below the new videoboard in right field,    101    is printed in
At Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, below the new videoboard in right field, 101 is printed in / Adam Sparks / The Tennessean

The 2024 SEC Baseball Tournament gets underway on Tuesday as the members of college baseball's best conference make one final push towards regional play. And as those teams do so, they'll be working with some experimental rules while running the bases.

SEC implementing double first base for 2024 baseball tournament

First base will look a bit different during the 2024 SEC Baseball Tournament. The league is experimenting with a "double first base" this week in Hoover.

Immediately to the right of first base will be a second, colored first base the sits on the other side of the first base line. It is being implemented with the hope of limiting collisions between fielders and baserunners during plays to first.

In the majority of situations where a batter runs to first base and the defense is making a play at the base, the defense is to use the white portion of the base while the baserunner uses the colored portion. If the baserunner beats the play at the base but touches only the white portion, he is out. An exception can be made on a dropped third strike, when both the baserunner and fielder can use either portion depending on where the play takes the fielder.

In a situation in which no play is being made at the base, such as a hit into the outfield, the baserunner can use either portion. Once he is safely on-base, he then uses the white portion as normally would.

Double first base could help limit runner interference calls

Many baseball fans have been critical of the move by the SEC given that it's a fairly significant break from the norm and will likely lead to some awkward plays during the week. But there could be a positive to it beyond simply limiting dangerous collisions at first.

One of the more controversial rulings currently in college baseball is with runner's lane violations on baserunners running to first base. Without getting too deep into the weeds, in situations where the baserunner gets outside the defined runner's lane and is deemed to have interfered with the throw to first, the baserunner is called out.

The issue is there can be quite a bit of grey area as to whether or not the baserunner is truly at fault in these situations, particularly when a poor throw to first directly creates the interference. In many cases, replay review has led to "letter of the law" rulings in situations that don't necessarily meet the intent of the rule and likely should've been left alone. Each of the last two College World Series finals have seen some controversy over the rule.

By using a double first base, it's possible some would-be runner's lane violations can be avoided since the baserunner isn't working towards the exact same target as the fielders. It's less likely the runner would ever disrupt the path of the throw to first, and he can more easily stay in the runner's lane while running.

It will look different for sure, and a few wonky plays might result this week in Hoover. But we at least get a chance to see if improves upon a rising issue in baseball.