With strike zones present on every broadcast and popular Twitter accounts dedicated to umpire evaluations, there’s never been more public scrutiny on umpires’ performance. But the notion of an automated strike zone does not appear to be imminently arriving on MLB’s doorstep.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said that the issue has not been presented to the league’s competition committee, per Evan Drellich of The Athletic, which is a necessary step for such a system to be implemented. If the committee does not add the subject of automated strike zone to its purview, then it will not be a part of MLB games in 2023.
The league has already begun experimenting with an automated zone in the minor leagues. The Triple A Pacific Coast League began using a “robo ump” in May, with encouraging results.
“I’m not totally against it,” Rockies outfielder Kris Bryant—who was part of a game with an automated zone while on a rehab assignment—said, via Nick Groke of The Athletic. “Umpires want to get the calls right. They’re not out there trying to influence the game one way or the other. If they have a tool at their advantage to every call right, that’s great.”
The minor leagues have also been used as experimentation grounds for a pitch clock, which has shaved considerable time off of games. Manfred said he was pleased with the results so far, but declined to comment on whether or not a pitch clock would be adopted in the majors by next season.
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