Minor League Baseball Will Experiment With Robotic Umpires

Robotic umpires are coming to the minor league, according to NPR. Major League Baseball officials announced yesterday they will use them during a small number of games in the Low-A Southeast.

The robotic umpires, which use technology known as the Automatic Ball-Strike System, will assist in calling strikes and balls. The goal is to be able to shorten the length of the games, put more baseballs in play, and possibly help lower the number of injuries among the players, officials say.

“The game on the field is constantly evolving, and MLB must be thoughtful and intentional about progressing toward the very best version of baseball – a version that is true to its essence and has enough consistent action and athleticism on display to entertain fans of all ages,” Theo Epstein, MLB consultant, said. “These rules experiments will provide valuable insight into various ways to create a playing environment that encourages the most entertaining version of the game.”

However, not all players are pleased with the idea, according to The Guardian.  Some are concerned about how the TrackMan system scores “breaking pitches down in the zone.”

Proponents say the robot could aid when it comes to how umpires interpret those calls in the strike zone. The independent Atlantic League and the Arizona Fall League have already been using the Automatic Ball-Strike System at some of their games.

The pandemic forced the cancellation of last year’s minor league season. As a result, this year’s season has a delayed start and is not expected to begin until the first week of May.