MLB to Allow Players to Have in-Game Video Access During 2021 Season

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIMarch 2, 2021

A spring training baseball ball with a Cactus League logo sits on a dugout wall during a game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

MLB players will once again have access to in-game video during the 2021 season as the league makes a return to its original policy, which was abandoned in 2020.

According to Jay Cohen of the Associated Press, the league "has cleared the way" for video to be recorded from iPads in the dugout as soon as Opening Day. 

Prior to 2020, players were able to watch video in-game, but that went away in the pandemic-shortened season when clubhouse access was restricted for safety reasons before the league could figure out a workaround in the wake of the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal. 

Prior to the pandemic, Manfred acknowledged the role video played in the Astros scandal and said the league would "have to live with less access to live video in and around the dugout and clubhouse" (h/t ESPN). 

Per Cohen, at least one move has been made to reflect that: In-game recordings will be filtered through a computer program that will hide signs made by the catcher. 

A lack of available video may have been one factor in a diminished on-field product. According to Cohen, the leaguewide batting average was .245, the lowest since players hit .237 in 1968. After a record-breaking 2019, there were fewer home runs per game in 2020. 

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"It definitely made it a little more difficult for hitters," Texas Rangers outfielder David Dahl said. "You can’t go back and look at where was that pitch, how are they throwing me, what my timing looked like, little things like that that I checked out in the past."

With video—and, in some places, fans—making a return in 2021, perhaps the upcoming season will see more home runs and balls in play.