While fans hoping to see robot umpires during the upcoming 2023 Major League Baseball season will still have to wait, they also won’t have to look too far to find them. Robot umpires will reportedly be implemented in all 30 Triple-A stadiums during the 2023 season.
Buster Olney of ESPN reported on Thursday that “The electronic strike zone will be used in all 30 Class AAA parks in 2023.” He also detailed that two different systems will be used.
“The Automatic Balls and Strikes system, commonly referred to as ABS, will be deployed in two different ways,” Olney said. “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.”
“Each team will be allowed three challenges per game, with teams retaining challenges in cases when they are proved correct. MLB’s intention is to use the data and feedback from both systems, over the full slate of games, to inform future choices.”
This drew a mixed response.
Some opposed the move to robot umpires, or at least seemed skeptical of how it might be applied.
“Extreme rule changes being implemented without taking into any consideration the players they directly affect. Experimentation over development. This sucks,” one fan said.
“If they can do it with the speed and efficiency of tennis, then I’m all for the challenge system. But we can’t be bringing out the tablets and headsets for balls and strikes,” another opined.
Extreme rule changes being implemented without taking into any consideration the players they directly affect. Experimentation over development. This sucks. https://t.co/QjgX8gHniN
— Joe Hudson (@joehud4) January 13, 2023
If they can do it with the speed and efficiency of tennis, then I’m all for the challenge system. But we can’t be bringing out the tablets and headsets for balls and strikes. https://t.co/OMjwI5hWYg
— Richard Morin (@ByRichardMorin) January 13, 2023
However, given that the job performance of MLB umpires was one of the most hotly discussed topics of the 2022 season, it should come as no surprise that this had support, as well.
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness) January 13, 2023
— Kirk Nawrotzky (@KirkNawrotzky) January 13, 2023
Robot umpires have been used at lower levels of the Minor Leagues. One has to assume that, presuming no major kinks are exposed at AAA, they’ll be coming to MLB not long after the 2023 season.