Report: Automatic strike zone trial has been a disaster
Home plate umpire Malcom Smith calls a strike during a baseball game between the Mighty Mussels and Daytona Tortugas at Hammond Stadium at Century Link Sports Complex on Thursday, July 22, 2021. Minor league baseball leagues have had various rules changes put in place by Major League Baseball this season. In the Low-A Southeast League, which includes the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, many games are utilizing an electronic strike zone. Human umpires still "deliver" the call behind the plate, but after receiving what an electronic device states whether a pitch is a ball or a strike. Andrew West/The News-Press via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Those who want to see Major League Baseball move to an automated strike zone might want to be careful what they wish for.

MLB has been testing the automatic strike zone during Arizona Fall League action, and Keith Law of The Athletic was able to observe one of the games. That game, between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, was called after seven and a half innings after both teams ran out of pitchers. The two teams issued a combined 22 walks, and those seven and a half innings took three hours.

There were other issues at play as well, to be fair. The game was also played with a strict pitch clock and a ban on defensive shifts. The pitch clock was also a significant issue as well.

The big story is the automated strike zone, which Law reports simply isn’t good enough right now. One major reason for that is that the actual strike zone is much smaller than the one frequently called by human umpires, particularly on the inside and outside parts of the plate. That led to a lot of pitches just off the plate — potential strikes in a current MLB game — being consistently called balls.

Calls for robot umps are frequent on social media whenever an inconsistent strike zone pops up in an MLB game, which is admittedly fairly often. We’ve seen some very questionable calls in the playoffs this season, and there will no doubt be more. That said, as frustrating as those calls are, they may be preferable to what the automated umps are capable of right now.

This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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