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Automated Strike Zone Newsbeat

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Korean baseball league introduces automated ball-strike system for 2024 as MLB mulls future with robot umps

The Korea Baseball Organization will introduce the automated ball-strike system (ABS) next season, the league announced Thursday (per the Korea Times). The league will also adopt a pitch timer similar to one used by Major League Baseball. The decisions were made during a board of directors meeting earlier this week.

“The ABS system has accomplished a precision and consistency of ball-strike calls. We have also reduced the time it takes for the calls to be relayed to the umpires,” the KBO said in a statement (per the Korea Times). “By introducing the ABS to the KBO, it will ensure fair play for pitchers and hitters alike.”

The KBO has used the Futures League, essentially its minor league, to refine ABS since 2020, and they originally planned to adopt it in July. The system was not deemed ready, however. The KBO also studied MLB’s pitch timer, which reduced the average time of game 24 minutes this season. The average KBO game was three hours and 19 minutes in 2023.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 19, 2023 at 10:40 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: automated strike zone, kbo, korean league

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

‘It’s an art’: MLB catchers seek balance between framing, robot umps

But what about those fans - likely very many - who want to see more objectivity from officials in all sports?

“They can write a letter or something,” Trevino responded wryly. “But, I mean, for guys that love doing it, the guys that enjoy catching and love pitch framing and any kind of defensive stuff, it means a lot. It means a lot to us.”

In reality, though, the automated strike zone is most likely coming, one way or another. And many catchers, including Texas Rangers tandem Jonah Heim and Austin Hedges - two of the best pitch framers in the league who’ve combined to save 22 runs this season - seem ready to welcome the appeal system.

“I think the best starting point would be the appeal system,” said All-Star Heim, the rare catcher who’s elite at framing but also a good hitter. “Just from hearing guys that come up in the minor leagues, they like that kind of system. It still has a human element. You just gotta be more strategic with it, I guess.”

Hedges offered his own unique perspective, as a veteran with his fourth organization after being traded to Texas at the deadline.

“I like the challenge system. I don’t think the fully automated system is a good idea,” the 31-year-old said. “Having the umpire back there still brings a lot of value. There’s certain things about baseball that you need a decision to be made versus where a ball is crossing electronically. But if you have the ability to challenge it and it can happen quickly, I think that’ll still keep the value of a catcher (who) can receive the ball.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 27, 2023 at 12:29 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: automated strike zone, pitch framing

Thursday, September 07, 2023

The Athletic: MLB just tweaked Triple A’s electronic strike zone: What you need to know and why it matters

Let’s try to clear this up:

The “old” zone: Hopefully, you recall the piece we published last month, looking at what’s gone on while MLB was spending this season trying out electronic ball-strike technology (aka “ABS” for Automated Ball-Strike System) across Triple A for the first time. As part of that experiment, the league also lowered the top of the strike zone by about two inches. So has that lower zone been a popular change? Ha. Let’s just say it’s been a zesty topic of nonstop chatter among hitters and pitchers in those leagues. Imagine that.

The “new” zone: The magic word to describe what’s changing isn’t “bigger” or “smaller.” It’s more like “personalized.” The league is now empowering its all-powerful Hawk-Eye technology to make every hitter’s electronic zone more individualized. Sounds simple, right? Not that simple, actually.

Before this, every hitter who was, say, 6-foot-3, was assigned exactly the same zone by the robot umps. But perhaps you’ve noticed that not every 6-foot-3 human has the same build. All those 6-foot-3 baseball-playing humans certainly did. So thanks to Hawk-Eye, now they won’t all have the same strike zone anymore.

For the rest of this season, the top of each hitter’s zone will be a spot defined as “two baseballs above the midpoint of his hip” — which works out to approximately one baseball’s width higher than his belt. The technology makes it possible to determine precisely where that is, no matter who’s hitting. That wasn’t true in the early days of the robot ump era.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 07, 2023 at 05:04 PM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: automated strike zone, robot umpires

Friday, August 25, 2023

The Athletic: Are robot umpires ready for their MLB debut? Not so fast.

In truth, the bigger issues have very little to do with the once-fundamental question of whether it’s even possible to produce a world in which every strike is a strike, every ball is a ball and 100 percent of all pitches are called correctly. Instead, the biggest holdup is this:

Now that hundreds of minor-league players, managers and coaches have spent a season living on Planet Robo-Ump… they’ve decided that they don’t want to live on that planet.

Oh, they still want The Big Calls to be 100 percent correct. They definitely don’t want games decided on calls like this.

But do they want every pitch to be called by non-humans, strictly by the rulebook strike zone, in, say, a 17-2 game? Or when it’s the eighth inning and ominous dark clouds are gathering? No, they do not! They almost unanimously prefer a challenge system, in which (theoretically) only The Big Mistakes are addressed with technology.

We know this because we’ve been asking minor leaguers about ABS/robot umps for weeks – and that’s what they’ve told us. We can only imagine what they’ve told the folks at Major League Baseball, who actually have some say over where this goes from here.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 25, 2023 at 11:18 AM | 52 comment(s)
  Beats: automated strike zone, robot umpires, umpires



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