But if the electronic strike zone ever became a real thing — and I agree with the players and executives who think that’s it’s inevitable, and perhaps closer to being implemented than a lot of folks realize — MLB and the players’ association will be able to sort through a whole lot of interesting ways to communicate the result of pivotal pitches.
Source: Buster Olney, ESPN.com
The article itself isn’t great but the fact that it’s being discussed at a mainstream site like ESPN is what matters. The strike zone is the most essential part of the game and while the umpires have gotten a lot better, they’re still missing double digit calls per game.
On a percentage basis, that’s not very much. There were 320 pitches in yesterday’s game and if the umps miss 15 of them, that means they’re getting around 95% of them right. But it makes a huge difference when a pitcher doesn’t get a 3-2 call or when a batter gets hosed on a 1-1 pitch.
The key will be for the automated strike zone to be used on every pitch, not some ridiculous challenge system like we have for other plays on the field. If ESPN’s K-Zone is really not some intern guessing where the ball went, we get results immediately. We won’t notice any difference with how long it takes Laz Diaz to make a strike call already.
It’s hard to argue that we can have a replay challenge on a bang-bang play at first base in a game where a team’s losing by eight runs but we can’t have the correct ball/strike calls all game long. The ship for “the human element” argument has long ago sailed. The debate should be over the accuracy of the automated zone. If there are reasons to doubt its performance, let’s hear them.
Otherwise we just need to hammer out the details over how the information gets relayed to the umpires and/or fans.