Reports from this week suggest how soon the Major League Baseball would have an automated ball strike zone system. Commissioner of MLB, Rob Manfred informed Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN how these robot umpires are set to be introduced in the year 2024.
Van Natta noted how one possibility for this futuristic system to ‘call every pitch’ and even ‘transmit the balls and strikes to a home plate’ by means of an ear piece. He added how the other option would be replaying the ‘review system of balls and strikes’ with every manager getting various challenges at the games.
“He declines to grade the MLB umpires’ overall performance this season—fans are displeased, to put it politely—and he insists the adaptation of robo-umpires should not be seen as an indictment of their abilities,”
For a while now, the dislike towards accuracy from umpire has increased, leading to fans demanding an automated system. Such a case recently took place on May 31 when an umpire made a rather bad call at a meeting between Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers.
At the time of the fifth innings, pitcher from Minnesota Twins, Devin Smeltzer tossed a 3-2 pitch that went on to cross home plate much below the knees of Eric Haase, the Tigers catcher. Hunter Wendelstedt, the home plate umpire wrung up Haase instead of giving him the free pass to first base.
A tweet from a baseball fan:
Enough is enough. Give me robo umps already https://t.co/Zsc8yBI9F4
— Jamal Spencer (@JamalSpencerTV) May 31, 2022
Arguably, this came in the list of the worst strike calls of this year’s season, and fans increasingly suggested the idea of robotic umpires as these incorrect calls continue. Manfred downplayed the possibility of installation of robotic umpires for the 2023 season at the end-of-owners meeting press conference, stating that the automated strike zone was not deemed to be a competition issue at present.
The automated ball-strike system has been experimented in independent and minor leagues for several years by MLB, and the Triple-A, which made its debut in the Pacific Coast League in May, is now being tested. This system detects the location of the pitch by using sensors and cameras above the home plate, which relays the data by means of audio to the home plate umpire, informing them of when to call strike or a ball, increasing accuracy.
Additionally, this system is also a part of MLB’s plan to reduce a game’s length, and according to Van Natta Jr., this automated system can help reduce games to an average of nine minutes or less.
“We have an automated strike zone system that works,” Manfred told Van Natta Jr