clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Elephant Rumblings: Robo umps taking over AAA

MLB news roundup

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Happy Friday, Athletics Nation!

Listen carefully—do you hear that off in the distance? It sounds like a booming voice announcing, “Attention, all stadia of the Triple-A Baseball Federation. We have assumed control.”

That’s the sound of robo umps completing their takeover of AAA ball, and we shouldn’t be surprised if they invade the big leagues soon. Per Buster Olney at ESPN, the electronic strike zone will be implemented in all Triple-A parks this year.

Two different types of Automatic Balls and Strikes (ABS) systems will be in play. Half of games will simply have an electronic strike zone for every pitch, while in the other half, an ABS challenge system will be employed. In this system, umps still call balls and strikes, but each team will be allowed to challenge at least three calls per game. If a challenged call is overturned, it won’t count against the allowance of three challenges.

Olney notes that the challenge system was used in the Class A Southeast League last season and received “surprisingly positive” feedback. Some feel that this system may serve as a good bridge to full ABS implementation.

A full ABS system, in which all balls and strikes are called electronically, would drastically alter the catcher’s role. The need for pitch framing would be obsolete, and all emphasis would be on blocking pitches in the dirt and throwing. Obviously, it would also diminish the human umpire’s role.

But that is the way of things: progress leaves winners and losers in its wake and we just need to help the latter group cope and readjust. I, for one, welcome our robo ump overlords, though I’d also gladly accept the adoption of a more incremental challenge system that would at least help prevent the most consequentially bad calls. How about you? Sound off below!

A’s Coverage:

MLB News & Interest:

Best of Twitter:


Rotation speculation.

Pen possibilities.

Lineup suspects.

Well, I might consider cutting back to just gloom OR doom.

Pache makes it look too easy.

Philly welcomes the Machin.