Friday, January 13, 2023

All Triple-A Games to Use Electronic Strike Zone Tech

All 30 Triple-A ballparks will house electronic balls and strikes technology in 2023, according to an ESPN report. Half of the games will use RoboUmp's fully-Automated Balls/Strikes System (ABS), in which the computer calls all pitches, while half of the games will feature a hybrid challenge system, in which human umpires continue calling balls and strikes, but teams (specifically, pitchers, catchers, and batters) will be allowed to challenge three umpire calls per game (retaining the challenge if the call is overturned).

Minor League Baseball in 2022 expanded its automated strike zone tests with the introduction of ABS to certain Spring Training sites in Florida, as well as certain selected minor league games in AAA West and Low-A Southeast.

This itself followed the Atlantic League's 2022 announcement that it would abandon its ABS RoboUmp experiment, following a few years of significant computer errors that led to contentious strike calls and ejections, most frequently of pitching coach Frank Viola.

In 2021, an Arizona Fall League game had to be ended early after both teams ran out of pitchers due to ABS RoboUmp's strict strike zone, leading to more ball calls than customary for a baseball game, which in turn required all 12 pitchers to throw more pitches.

The imminent 2023 Triple-A setup of half-full ABS and half-challenge system, as we point out scientifically, stipulates that the computer will get it wrong some of the time. For instance, strike zone heights will be calculated based on a percentage of total batter height (every person has different body  proportions, meaning this methodology is error-prone), while the addition of an inch to either side of home plate in calculated horizontal ball/strike calls is, itself, not quite the correct radius of a baseball.

This, of course, is in addition to the plethora of computer strike zone errors we have previously reported on.


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