Except, they’re not really robots. They’re human umpires wearing a Bluetooth-connected earpiece, connected to an iPhone, connected to a software program in the press box. The software doesn’t make every call, just balls and strikes. And if it’s wrong, the human umpire can step in to overrule the program, and his decision, not the software’s, is final.


The experiment is part of a three-year agreement with MLB that allowed big league officials to install experimental rules in the Atlantic League to study their effects on game play, strategy, tempo and prospect development. In return, MLB promised to “enhance its scouting coverage of the Atlantic League” and to install hardware to enable advanced analytical study of players.

Some of those rule changes include a prohibition against mound visits, a ban of defensive shifts, a three-batter minimum for new pitchers and larger bases (18-by-18 inches, rather than 15-by-15). In the second half of the season, the league will allow batters to steal first base: Any pitch on any count not caught in flight will be considered a live ball, and a batter may run to first base, similar to a dropped third strike.

Source: Jacob Bogage, Washington Post

One comment on “Baseball’s ‘robot umpires’ are here. And you might not even notice the difference.

  • Brian Joura

    Man, if that new rule comes true maybe Billy Hamilton can finally provide some offensive value.

    Not a fan of giving the HP umpire the ability to overrule the ball/strike call anytime he wants. I understand there are glitches and that’s one thing. But if some Joe West wannabee decides that any pitch above the belt is a ball and he calls it that way, then it’s no better than what we had before.

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