Robot umps to call balls-strikes in Triple-A in 2022
Major League Baseball is expanding its use of robot umpires to call balls and strikes in Triple-A this upcoming season.
MLB posted a jobs listing for Automated Ball-Strike (ABS) techs in various parts of the country, “actively recruiting” for Albuquerque, Charlotte, El Paso, Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, Reno Aces, Round Rock, Sacramento, Salt Lake, Sugar Land and Tacoma.
“ABS will leverage optical tracking data to determine and communicate ball and strike calls to plate umpires. It is critical we provide quality support to the umpires and the technology while capturing data around system performance,” MLB said in the job posting.
MLB said ABS will be used in “select Spring Training venues in Florida, in AAA West and Low-A Southeast, and potentially in other non-MLB games and venues.”
MLB first introduced the ABS system in the independent Atlantic League for its All-Star game in 2019 and the second half of the season. It was then used for the Arizona Fall League in 2019. It was utilized in most parks in the Low-A Southeast League in 2021.
There was no minor league baseball in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The system still requires an ump behind the plate who wears an earpiece that would relay whether a pitch was a ball or strike based on computer evaluation. The umpire then relays the call to the players and fans in attendance, just as always. Umpires still make the call on check swings and, of course, plays at the plate.
–Field Level Media