Friday, September 27, 2019

Arizona Fall Testing Automated Ball/Strike System

For the first time in history, affiliated baseball is using a computer to call balls and strikes in the Arizona Fall League, appearing to delight players by continuing its Atlantic League tradition of calling unexpected strikes. MiLB umpires using ABS hear "ball" or "strike" prompts via earpiece and relay that information through their calls, sometimes after a notable delay.

One notable exchange early on in the AFL's 2019 schedule featured Salt River Rafters batter Geraldo Perdomo attempting to argue a strike three call with HP Umpire Eric Bacchus, who simply pointed to the electronic device in his ear, leaving Perdomo to turn away and yell at no one in particular.

ABS continues to befriend batters.
Perdomo's at-bat featured three called strikes, all of which according to MLB's Gameday graphic were marginally close to home plate, with the strike two pitch well above the GD-drawn upper boundary.

Nonetheless, ABS—which MLB has now notably divorced from the "TrackMan" name, even though the TrackMan hardware still exists in ballparks—had them all as strikes and Perdomo returned to the Rafters dugout having struck out looking.

So much for eliminating pitchers' ability to paint the corner.

In addition to the robot umpire concept, the AFL's other notable umpiring-related experiment pertains to the accessibility of helmets for home plate umpires, which may be worn underneath a traditional-style facemask.

In the majors, only a few umpires—most notably Mike Estabrook—consistently wore the umpire's helmet throughout the season. John Tumpane, for instance, actually took a foul ball to the head while wearing the helmet in April, which coincidentally shares the robo-ump's ABS name with its thermoplastic polymer, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene.
Related PostTumpane, Hudson Weather Easter Eggs to Head (4/21/19).

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: AFL Tests Automated Ball/Strike System, Bugs & All (CCS)


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