EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Back in May, Triple-A baseball made an innovative move, electing to use an automated strike zone instead of having the umpires call balls and strikes.
Ever since, it’s been an adjustment period for the players, batters and pitchers alike.
The “robot” umpires are used to determine balls and strikes. The Pacific Coast League – of which the El Paso Chihuahuas are a member – utilizes a sensor to decide if a ball was inside or outside the zone. The home plate umpire is then notified of the call by way of an earpiece.
The Chihuahuas have taken to posting the location of each pitch in a grid on the scoreboard at Southwest University Park.
The league has had to make a few adjustments to the strike zone since implementing it in May. Taller batters have had to make the biggest adjustment to it, according to Chihuahuas manager Jared Sandberg.
“They’ve had to lower the high strike, they’ve made some adjustments throughout the season,” said Sandberg. “I know there’s been some times where there’s been some frustrating calls, a ball clipped the zone or clipped the corner, or is off the plate and clips the line. So there has been some frustration, but it has brought some consistency to the game.”
One thing that hasn’t changed – fans and players will still chirp at the home plate umpire if they feel like a ball is out of the zone, even though it’s no longer up to the umpire crew. However, it has cut down on complaints.
“It’s just less barking and chirping from the players, you can’t yell at a robot umpire,” said Sandberg.