Home » Technical difficulties are delaying robot umpires in MLB

Technical difficulties are delaying robot umpires in MLB

by NBC News

Major League Baseball says robot home plate umpires are unlikely for 2025.

“We still have some technical issues,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday at a news conference following an owners meeting. “We haven’t made as much progress in the minor leagues this year as we sort of hoped at this point. I think it’s becoming more and more likely that this will not be a go for ’25.”

MLB has been experimenting with the automated ball-strike system in minor leagues since 2019. It is being used at all Triple-A parks this year for the second straight season, the robot alone for the first three games of each series and a human with a challenge system in the final three.

“There’s a growing consensus in large part based on what we’re hearing from players that the challenge form should be the form of ABS if and when we bring it to the big leagues, at least as a starting point,” Manfred said. “I think that’s a good decision.”

After instituting a pitch clock in 2023, MLB slowed innovation this year, with only small rules adjustments.

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“One thing we did learn with the changes that we went through last year, taking the extra time to make sure you have it right is definitely the best approach,” Manfred said. “I think we’re going to use that same approach here.”

Manfred said discussions have not taken place with the players’ association on the shape of an automated strike zone. There is little desire to call the strike zone as defined in the rule book as a cube. The ABS currently calls strikes solely based on where the ball crosses the midpoint of the plate, 8.5 inches from the front and the back.

“We have not started those conversations because we haven’t settled on what we think about it,” Manfred said.

MLB’s meetings with players revealed a preference for a challenge system in order to continue to incentivize catcher framing skills.

“Originally we thought everybody was going to be wholeheartedly in…

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