Boyle: Robo strike zone: it’s not as simple as you think

From Wayne Boyle, Sean O’Rourke, Jeff Long, and Harry Pavlidis at Baseball Prospectus on January 29, 2018:

Every major-league game you watch, ball-tracking technology is used to deliver live views of where the ball passes through the strike zone. This is an entertaining and seemingly unbiased image of where the ball traveled through the zone. As a result, it’s no surprise that there’s been a steadily increasing call to replace the home plate umpire and rely entirely on machine measurements to call balls and strikes in real time, i.e. a “Robo Zone” or “Robot Umps.”

The reality, however, is that there are myriad issues with implementing a ball-and-strike-calling system like this for real games. The primary issue is that using machine measurements to call balls and strikes will simply shift disagreements with the call from the umpire to the machine, or to the machine’s operators.

People watching a game also tend to forget that their viewing perspective alters how the pitch appears to them, which can create the same animosity when the machine report does not match what people believe they saw. Your perception of the pitch can change significantly depending on whether your point of view is from beyond the outfield wall, or from the perspective of pitcher, umpire, or batter.

In order to fully assess the implications of embracing our mechanical strike zone-judging overlords, we’ll take a look at the issue from two standpoints. First, we’ll look at the potential issues that could limit or impact the implementation of the technology, followed by an assessment on the impact the switch would have on the game.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: January 29, 2018. Last Updated: January 29, 2018.