Incorrect balls and strikes calls have been a part of baseball since its invention, but now it might be closer to making that a problem of the past.
MLB has been testing the Automated Ball and Strike system (ABS) since a 2019 agreement with the Atlantic League. They also have carried out experimenting with it in the Arizona Fall League and lower levels of Minor League Baseball.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has said the system, which is often referred to as robot umpires despite being a camera-based system, will end up being more accurate than human umpires and help remove controversy from the game.
Now, MLB is going to begin testing the balls and strikes system in Triple-A, the Minor Leagues highest level, as they prepare to make the potential change in MLB in the near future, according to The Associated Press:
Major League Baseball is expanding its automated strike zone experiment to Triple-A, the highest level of the minor leagues.
The system will also be tested during Spring Training games in Florida, along with the continued testing at Low-A and potentially other non-MLB games, according to a job listing on MLB.com. The league is looking to hire workers to help run the system for 13 Triple-A teams, including the Los Angles Dodgers’ affiliate in Oklahoma City.
They were originally going to begin testing in 2020 but it was put on hold due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Although the Atlantic League agreed to an extension with MLB through 2023 to continue testing new rules, the league will no longer use the ABS system during the 2022 season.
Does the automated strike zone affect CBA negotiations?
As part of the current lockout, MLB and the Players Association are negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement for the economics and rules of the sport, which could bring big changes, such as the robot umps and universal designated hitter.
While the Umpires Association has already agreed to cooperate with MLB to help develop, test and implement the ABS system as part of their most recent labor contract in 2019, the league will also need to get the players on board with the change.
MLB and the MLBPA could come to an agreement to implement the system when it is ready and reaches a certain accuracy threshold in their testing. However, if they can’t agree on this issue, Manfred does have the power to unilaterally implement new rules. He has usually tried to get the union on board with changes.
It is also something that could be addressed after the testing is completed, so it shouldn’t hurt any current negotiations or CBA progress that has been made.
Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? Be sure to ring the notification bell to watch player interviews, participate in shows and giveaways, and stay up to date on all Dodgers news and rumors!