Farivar: For the first time, sensors and computers play umpire in a pro game

From Cyrus Farivar at Ars Technica on July 29, 2015, with mention of SABR member Jacob Pomrenke:

It turns out 21st century baseball with a computer calling balls and strikes feels a lot like 20th century baseball (you know, with a human behind the plate). There appear to be two main differences. The first and most obvious is volume. Machines just aren’t good at giving that classic umpire grunt, so you still need a warm body to do it.

The second? Accuracy.

“You face [Hall of Fame pitcher] Greg Maddux and he’d get a foot off the plate,” recalls Eric Byrnes, former Oakland A’s player and current baseball analyst. “So if we have a chance to get it right, if we have a chance to get a pitch every time, why would we not?”

Byrnes was the man behind Tuesday night’s historic technological feat. On a picturesque evening in Marin County just north of San Francisco, the San Rafael Pacifics faced off against the Vallejo Admirals in what was billed as the first professional baseball game to be called by a piece of technology rather than a person. In this minor league showdown, the role of the balls-and-strikes umpire was played by a mounted three-camera tracking setup synced with a computer. (Two of the cameras are mounted at each end of the upper corner of the grandstands behind the plate; the third sits in center field.) Together, the devices comprise a system better known by its commercial moniker: Pitchf/x. It was soon dubbed #RoboUmp on Twitter.

Read the full article here: http://arstechnica.com/business/2015/07/for-the-first-time-sensors-and-a-computer-play-umpire-in-a-pro-baseball-game/

Originally published: July 29, 2015. Last Updated: July 29, 2015.