MLB To Implement Automated Strike Zone In Triple-A Ballparks
Reid Detmers, Salt Lake Bees

Major League Baseball announced they plan to expand the use of an electronic strike zone in the Minor Leagues in the 2023 season.

League officials and MLB have been advocating and testing the use of robot umps since 2019, and prior to last season, they were gathering data from independent baseball leagues. They most recently equipped numerous ballparks at Spring Training sites, Low-A, and 13 Triple-A clubs with the technology.

MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association didn’t agree on its use at the big league level, which is why it wasn’t included in their new collective bargaining agreement, which ended the 2022 MLB lockout.

Although commissioner Rob Manfred said the tech won’t be used in MLB during the upcoming season, the league will put it to use throughout the highest level of Minor League Baseball, via Buster Onley of ESPN:

The electronic strike zone will be used in all 30 Class AAA parks in 2023, sources told ESPN, seemingly another significant step toward the implementation of the technology at the big league level in the near future.

The Automatic Balls and Strikes system, commonly referred to as ABS, will be deployed in two different ways. Half of the Class AAA games will be played with all of the calls determined by an electronic strike zone, and the other half will be played with an ABS challenge system similar to that used in professional tennis.

The data gathered from these games and the accuracy of the calls are essential factors, but the reaction and pace of play might be analyzed the most. Umpire variability is a piece to baseball and the third element and subtle strike zone differences have and were always expected, which is why this change remains controversial.

Still, it seems the change will be coming to MLB sometime in the near future.

Rule changes coming to MLB in 2023

Among rule changes being introduced in MLB still include a pitch timer, which states a pitcher must begin his throwing motion prior to the expiration of a 15-second timer, or 20 seconds when there’s at least one runner on base.

A ban on defensive shifts for infielders will restrict where defenders can line up before a pitch is thrown, mainly keeping two infielders on each side of second base when a pitch is released. MLB has said the main goal of this change is to encourage more action on the field, and as a result, there will be more hits in spots a fielder might have been perfectly positioned in years past.

Larger bases will become a thing, although the naked eye might not notice, an increase from 15″ to 18″ is to improve upon player safety and an additional bonus should be an uptick in stolen base attempts.

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