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Monday, October 18, 2021

Arizona Fall League experiments gone awry, plus notes on Spencer Torkelson, Brett Baty and more: Keith Law

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Major League Baseball’s plans to test out various ideas for speeding up games in the Arizona Fall League this year have been, through a week of games, a complete flop.

The Saturday night game at Salt River Fields, the spring home of the Diamondbacks and Rockies, exemplifies the entire problem. The game used the automated strike zone, a variable pitch clock and a ban on shifts. The result was a game that was called after seven and a half innings over three excruciating hours because the teams ran out of pitchers. Why did they run out of pitchers in just seven and a half innings, you ask? Because the pitchers they did use walked 22 guys.

I’m an advocate of moving away from a human-called strike zone, which is going to be biased by its very nature, to an automated one, but this year’s experiments in what was once the Florida State League, and now here in the AFL, have shown that simply turning on HAL 2021 isn’t going to be enough. It turns out that the real strike zone is a lot smaller than what umpires called, especially on the horizontal axis (inside or outside). A whole lot of pitches that were probably 1 to 3 inches off the outside corner and had some chance of being called strikes from a human were, of course, called balls — and while that wasn’t solely responsible for the game’s three-walks-per-inning pace, it didn’t help matters. (Some guys just couldn’t find the plate that night if you’d drawn an arrow from the mound right to the dish.)

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 18, 2021 at 10:47 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: defensive shifts, pace of play, pitch clock, robot umpires

 

 

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