Major League Baseball and the Players Association (MLBPA) negotiated a wide array of topics in their new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and the two sides agreed to not include significant rule changes for the 2022 season, such as the automated strike zone.
MLB has instead implemented the technology in the Minor Leagues this season, and commissioner Rob Manfred believes it still has the potential to be implemented at the Major League level. With television broadcasts displaying a strike zone overlay, and umpire performance constantly remaining a hot topic, the Automated Ball and Strike system (ABS) could help reduce the amount of human influence, and error, in games.
The technology was introduced in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in May, but in spite of the very positive results, Manfred doesn’t foresee it being a part of MLB for the 2023 season, via Evan Drellich of The Athletic:
One issue that Manfred said he does not expect to go in front of the competition committee this year is the automated strike zone. Unless that changes, then, it’s not a change in consideration for 2023.
There is data that shows each umpire has different tendencies in how they call balls and strikes, and the use of the ABS would create a uniform set zone that would vary on a few factors.
MLB not rushing to implement this technology is wise because this would be the largest change since expanded replay and manager challenges were introduced. Making sure the system is perfected before it is implemented is the smart way to go.
Possible MLB rules and tech changes
Manfred has long been working toward improving pace of play, reducing the likelihood of altercations in the name of safety purposes, and restricting how teams can position their defenses via shifting.
Before the new CBA was announced, the MLBA was reportedly open to MLB’s desire to implement a pitch clock, larger bases, restricting defensive shifts, and the aforementioned ABS system.
MLB has already experimented with a 15-second pitch clock in the Minors and in the Arizona Fall League, and Manfred is encouraged by the early results.
Early reports from its use in the minors have shown the pitch clock drastically reduced game times and is certainly something MLB will push for in the major leagues in the near future.
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