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Friday, August 02, 2019

The Atlantic League is proving that change can be hard for baseball players

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. — Immediately following the seventh inning of a game between the New Britain Bees and the hometown Long Island Ducks last week, there was a ceremony on the field at Bethpage Ballpark to induct the newest inanimate member of the Hall of Fame. Even if you were among the small crowd that came out to watch independent ball in person on a warm Thursday night, you might’ve missed it. The whole thing took less than a minute and 45 seconds because it had to — abbreviated time between innings is one of the handful of rule changes that Major League Baseball is piloting in the Atlantic League this season.

Ducks owner Frank Boulton slipped out of the stands to receive the earpiece that home plate umpire Fred DeJesus had been wearing all evening. A couple of pictures were snapped, and then Boulton returned to the stands as DeJesus donned a new earpiece so the game could go on.

From there, the earpiece would head to Cooperstown to commemorate the official league-wide rollout of the Automated Ball-Strike System (ABS) powered by TrackMan. Or, as everyone has taken to colloquially calling it, robot umps.

“It’s hard for me to put into words how momentous what we’re watching is ’cause it looks so ordinary,” Atlantic League commissioner Rick White said, watching the small ceremony play out from seats just behind the first-base dugout. “That looks like any pitch you’ve ever seen at any ballpark. When Freddie calls a strike, it looks like any strike call you’ve ever seen at any ballpark. But when I think about what’s gone into this, and the incredible amount of resource and time everyone has put into this, especially our umpires, it’s a hugely momentous thing.”

Interesting article, unfortunate title.

QLE Posted: August 02, 2019 at 01:24 AM | 21 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: atlantic league, change, players, robot umpires

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   1. TomH Posted: August 02, 2019 at 01:49 PM (#5867793)
The most important change the Atlantic League made this season, methinks, is the pitchers mound-to-home plate change from 60'6" to 62'6". I have been WAITING to see someone with Atlantic League stats from the past years and this year assess the reuslts to date... but so far I've spotted no analysis. Anyone?
   2. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 02, 2019 at 01:56 PM (#5867797)
The most important change the Atlantic League made this season, methinks, is the pitchers mound-to-home plate change from 60'6" to 62'6". I have been WAITING to see someone with Atlantic League stats from the past years and this year assess the reuslts to date... but so far I've spotted no analysis. Anyone?
The change was made at the All-Star break, and unfortunately we don't have enough post-change data to analyze because all Atlantic League pitchers are currently having Tommy John.
   3. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: August 02, 2019 at 02:24 PM (#5867804)
I went to a Lancaster game last week. Didn't notice one way or the other about robot umps, but I have to say I was disappointed with the pace of play. A 5-4 game took just about three hours. Which I guess would be normal for MLB. But they didn't seem to use the pitch clock, or at least the one on the scoreboard was frozen in displaying 12 seconds.
   4. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 02, 2019 at 02:40 PM (#5867810)
Oh, FFS. Apparently Manfred's fecklessness knows no bounds.
   5. TomH Posted: August 02, 2019 at 02:54 PM (#5867815)
Thanks #2; I thought it began at the start of the year, with only the robot umps and steal-first-base after the ASB.
   6. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 02, 2019 at 03:02 PM (#5867817)
This article could be better if they'd mention the rule changes before talking about the reaction to them.
   7. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 02, 2019 at 03:03 PM (#5867818)
The mound distance change wasn't slated until the 2nd half, and then delayed until 2H 2020.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_League_of_Professional_Baseball

Moving the pitching rubber on the pitcher's mound back 24 inches (61 cm)
This change would have taken effect in the second half of the season

In April 2019, implementation of two of the changes was delayed:[27]

The tracking system for calling balls and strikes "will be implemented gradually over the course of the 2019 season"
Moving the pitching rubber back will not occur until the second half of the 2020 Atlantic League season
   8. puck Posted: August 02, 2019 at 11:33 PM (#5867924)
I had no idea about some of these rule changes.

Pitchers required to step off rubber to attempt pickoff


What's the purpose of this rule other than to make stolen bases earlier?

One foul bunt permitted with two strikes
   9. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 03, 2019 at 11:59 AM (#5867966)
The last few seem like they encourage small ball tactics in some sort of response to the launch angle world.

   10. Walt Davis Posted: August 03, 2019 at 06:29 PM (#5868047)
If they could hit or throw a change, they probably wouldn't be in the Atlantic League.

RHP have always had to step off the rubber so the rule only effects that kinda unfair advantage LHP have of keeping the runner close until halfway through their motion. We can only imagine how much worse Terry Mulholland would have been if this rule had been in place
   11. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 04, 2019 at 03:15 PM (#5868195)
Robo-umps are by far the best and most important experiment, but there's another one I like that hasn't gotten much mention: "Checked-swing calls are supposed to be 'more batter friendly.'" Put that into effect along with the robo-umps, and I think you'd see a significant reduction in strikeouts.

Beyond the horrible idea of moving the mound back, I also don't like "one foul bunt [allowed] with two strikes". If managers are so set on bunting, they should teach their players how to bunt, not award them a goddam mulligan if they can't even get it down on the first three tries.

As for the reaction to the robo-umps, so far it's been encouraging:
“It’s almost like an easy out for the umpire,” said Timothy Rosso, the home plate umpire on Tuesday. “Just point to the ear: ‘The machine called it; I had nothing to do with it.’”

This innovation has all but eliminated arguments between managers and umpires, and rendered pitch-framing skills irrelevant. A catcher can influence an umpire with the way he presents a pitch, but a machine does not care.

Major leaguers are paying attention from afar.

“I’m curious to see how it goes,” said J.D. Martinez, the Boston Red Sox slugger. “If it’s going to be more accurate and work better, what’s there to be against?”


What indeed?
   12. Baseballs Most Beloved Figure Posted: August 04, 2019 at 11:56 PM (#5868291)
"Checked-swing calls are supposed to be 'more batter friendly.'"

I've watched a lot of games from the 60s and 70s online and one thing that was very noticeable to me was that the checked swing calls were exponentially more batter friendly than today. Willie Mays might have hit it out of the Oakland Coliseum had he connected on this "ball" call.
https://youtu.be/m8nq9tXqVPI?t=1020
   13. The Rare Albino Shrieking Goat of Guatemala. Posted: August 05, 2019 at 12:58 AM (#5868293)
“If it’s going to be more accurate and work better, what’s there to be against?”


If you repeat this sentence three times while looking in a mirror, Snapper appears behind you ...
   14. My name is RMc and I feel extremely affected Posted: August 05, 2019 at 08:11 PM (#5868580)
I welcome our new robot overlords!
   15. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: August 06, 2019 at 06:28 AM (#5868656)
I've watched a lot of games from the 60s and 70s online and one thing that was very noticeable to me was that the checked swing calls were exponentially more batter friendly than today. Willie Mays might have hit it out of the Oakland Coliseum had he connected on this "ball" call.
https://youtu.be/m8nq9tXqVPI?t=1020
This is kind of amazing. TV announcers used to (maybe they still do) always say that on checked swings the question was whether or not the batter "broke his wrists" on the swing. It's hard to really see without a replay, but Mays there didn't seem to really roll his wrists over, even though he does bring the bat over the plate with a good degree of force.
   16. Rennie's Tenet Posted: August 06, 2019 at 06:59 AM (#5868657)
It's my understanding that this changes the strike zone - the top and bottom of the strike zone is calculated based on a player's overall height, rather than where his armpits and knees are? Is anything being done to monitor if this is making stars out of guys with long necks, or driving guys with short shins out of the game?
   17. Greg Pope Posted: August 06, 2019 at 10:21 AM (#5868703)
the top and bottom of the strike zone is calculated based on a player's overall height

I really hope this is true. No gaming the system with a Rickey-style crouch.
   18. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 06, 2019 at 02:22 PM (#5868841)

Is anything being done to monitor if this is making stars out of guys with long necks, or driving guys with short shins out of the game?

Wouldn't the change benefit guys with short necks/shins, not the other way around? Before, if you had two guys who were the same height, the guy with the longer neck/shins would have a smaller strike zone. Now, they should have the same strike zone.
   19. base ball chick Posted: August 06, 2019 at 03:12 PM (#5868874)
this is silly

anyone who doesn't stand straight upright will have to swing at pitches at their neck
   20. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 06, 2019 at 03:16 PM (#5868879)
Wouldn't the change benefit guys with short necks/shins, not the other way around? Before, if you had two guys who were the same height, the guy with the longer neck/shins would have a smaller strike zone. Now, they should have the same strike zone.
Sadly, Cotton Hill died before his big break.
   21. SoSH U at work Posted: August 06, 2019 at 04:44 PM (#5868913)
anyone who doesn't stand straight upright will have to swing at pitches at their neck


I doubt it means that. I reckon the strike zone will be a standard size for a player depending on his height, regardless how that height is managed. So a player who is Altuve's height would automatically have a strike zone that is 30 inches tall, starting 14 inches off the ground, for instance, and one who is Judge's height would have one 36 inches tall, starting 15.5 inches off the ground (numbers are, of course, made up).

I'm very wary of the robo ump concept, though I do like the idea of making the strike zone based strictly on a player's height, not whether he starts in a crouch.


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