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.
Related PostDude, What Happened Last Night? About Pitch f/x Error (8/30/16).

Video as follows:

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Jeff Nelson Officiates a Back-Tag in the Middle Infield

On a first-and-third base hit to left field, Blue Jays runner R1 Santiago Espinal rounded second base in anticipation of a throw to the plate on the lead runner—a throw that instead was cut off and found its way to second base as Espinal dove back. 2B Umpire Jeff Nelson, reading the cutoff sequence, gradually drifted along the first base side of second, anticipating a potential play on the trailing R1 Espinal.

This call would stand via Replay Review as the result of an Orioles challenge, but no camera had a better angle than 2B Umpire Nelson, who worked throughout the play to gain a position and keyhole angle with which to see a potential back-tag situation, which is precisely what ended up happening.

Video as follows: