Baseball brings Automated Umps to Triple-A

Just a bit over a week ago it was announced by MLB officials that the trial of the automated strike zone in the Atlantic League (via partnership with MLB) that has been used since 2019 is going to end and work it’s up to the minors.

With the success of the automated umpires in the Atlantic League. In which the Atlantic League became the first professional league to let an automated system call its balls and strikes in their 2019 All-Star game and the second half of the season. It has finally reached its way into the minor league system. With teams such as the Albuquerque Isotopes, Charlotte Knights, El Paso Chihuahuas, Las Vegas Aviators, Oklahoma City Dodgers, Reno Aces, Round Rock Express, Sacramento River Cats, Salt Lake Bees, Sugar Land Skeeters and Tacoma Rainiers all posted hiring notices seeking seasonal employees to operate the Automated balls and strikes (ABS) system.

The big news out of this is that we will see the ABS system in the highest level of the minors this isn’t the only level that will be seeing the use of the ABS system. As a select amount of Spring Training facilities in Florida will be seeing use of this system, as well as Low-A southwest region and maybe even non-MLB games and stadiums.

While it is an automated system it doesn’t fully replace the home plate umpire that we are all used to. It just takes away the human error on balls and strikes. Any borderline pitches that we the viewers can see on television and know right away is a ball of strike but to the human umpire making that decision can be tough and they make the wrong call. Which happens about 10 times a game.

The goal of the ABS software is to try and eliminate this by reading the pitch and its trajectory and using the strike zone that is displayed on nationally televised games that we’re all accustomed to and when the pitch crosses the plate, the home plate umpire will know the call right away.

While I think this could potentially be a good step for the game of baseball, I think it will take away a valuable part of the game and one that I don’t hear very many people talking about which is a catcher ability to frame a pitch or “steal a strike” if you will. With Brewers backstop Omar Narváez in which throughout the 2021 season Narváez saved 10 runs from opposing teams from his framing and had a strike rate of just under of 49.2 percent (per baseball savant).

I think that with the implantation of the ABS system will be beneficial to the league overall, I think that it will eventually eliminate a key part of the game for catchers and render the ones that make most of their money off their framing abilities will struggle for a bit as they will no longer be able to be valued as highly as they should because of the fact they are not able to “steal strikes” anymore.



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Andrew Fox

Andrew Fox

WIU sports broadcasting student. Sports connoisseur. Avid baseball fan.