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Electronic Strike Zone


Guest Jcal

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Curios to know what people's thoughts are in regards to the electronic strike and also what is known about the status of implementing it. Is this still being tested in the minors? Is it just a matter of time before it will be implemented or is it up in the air?

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I'm 100% against it for a number of reasons:

1- The research currently shows MLB umpires are MORE ACCURATE than the electronic strike zones.  Not the rest of us, but MLB for sure.

2- The box drawn in TV is always the same regardless of the batter's height.  This is not how the rule book defines the zone, so what they are showing you on TV is inaccurate before the pitcher even gets his sign.

3- The strike zone is THREE DIMENSIONAL, but electronic zones are only calling strikes at the front edge of the plate (see #1 and #2).

4- While an MLB umpire is more accurate than the electronic zones, I fully admit that I'm not, and neither are other high school umpires.  But you should see the difference in my skill in the two years I've been umpiring.  I get consistently strong reviews from evaluators and even coaches about the consistency of my zone.  So why impose that cost on a high school, whose priority for sporting equipment will almost 100% of the time NOT be for baseball?

5- Framing pitches is a genuine part of the game.  Excellent or even good framing will buy the pitcher a strike.  Crappy framing may give him a ball when it wouldn't have.  But it's part of the game.  I've called behind some outstanding catchers at the 18U and adult league level, and I've called behind some catchers who think sliding their mitt into the center of the zone after making the catch is framing.  Why would we want to do anything that changes the importance of a player???

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1 hour ago, mac266 said:

1- The research currently shows MLB umpires are MORE ACCURATE than the electronic strike zones.  Not the rest of us, but MLB for sure.

How can they know that? What tools are they using to determine that? How accurate are the tools? If the tools are accurate enough for them to allow the conclusion then that tool should be OK to use.

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2 hours ago, mac266 said:

1- The research currently shows MLB umpires are MORE ACCURATE than the electronic strike zones.  Not the rest of us, but MLB for sure.

2- The box drawn in TV is always the same regardless of the batter's height.  This is not how the rule book defines the zone, so what they are showing you on TV is inaccurate before the pitcher even gets his sign.

3- The strike zone is THREE DIMENSIONAL, but electronic zones are only calling strikes at the front edge of the plate (see #1 and #2)

Careful - if there is some sort of properly calibrated tool that can evaluate and compare the accuracy of both systems then you have a tool that could replace both systems.

Sure, agree on the box...for up down...left right is a constant though...and the vast majority of the big misses by MLB umps are away, not high/low.

The 3D statement is true, but rarely relevant.   Keep in mind that 3-shape is not a 3d rectangle...it is the shape of the plate from front to back.  A MLB pitcher curveball/slider at 80/90 mph very rarely has a sideways trajectory that is pronounced enough to miss the front of the plate but catch the back of it - there might be the occasional knuckle that veers sideways to do so...but these are so rare it's statistically meaningless.      Show me a replay where this happens...I'll be shocked if you find even one...and even if you do I'll show you 10000 where the ball curves around the plate, never hitting any part of it.   If it misses the front it is almost always missing the back.     And if the ball clips the front of the plate and misses the back...doesn't matter...it caught the plate.

Even a pitch that is coming from above the strike zone will very rarely be above the top at the front of the plate, but dip down in time to catch it at the back.   It would usually have to be right in the middle where it has 17 inches of real estate, as opposed to nine on the sides.

2 hours ago, mac266 said:

4- While an MLB umpire is more accurate than the electronic zones, I fully admit that I'm not, and neither are other high school umpires.  But you should see the difference in my skill in the two years I've been umpiring.  I get consistently strong reviews from evaluators and even coaches about the consistency of my zone.  So why impose that cost on a high school, whose priority for sporting equipment will almost 100% of the time NOT be for baseball?

Who has suggested this?   Sounds like a straw man to men...I've never heard this brought up.   Having said that, if ESZ is brought in (I sure as hell hope not) you wouldn't really need an ump behind the plate, would you?  (assuming the system never goes down)

Or at least, not right behind F2.  For HS and other amateur settings would two umps in the field better serve the game??

3 hours ago, mac266 said:

5- Framing pitches is a genuine part of the game.  Excellent or even good framing will buy the pitcher a strike.  Crappy framing may give him a ball when it wouldn't have.  But it's part of the game.  I've called behind some outstanding catchers at the 18U and adult league level, and I've called behind some catchers who think sliding their mitt into the center of the zone after making the catch is framing.  Why would we want to do anything that changes the importance of a player???

 I agree framing is a valuable part of the game.  As a former catcher I reveled in it, and I coached it to hundreds of young players.  I enjoy the craft.  But it's only valuable because umpires are human.  You're argument is to not bring in ESZ to replace fallible umpires because it would eliminate framing, which only exists because umpires are fallible.   What you call "good framing" or "buying a strike" I call trickery, fooling, deception.  Likewise, when bad framing results in an actual strike being called a ball, that's incompetence...for both the F2 and the ump.  As fun as it is, the fact is, what the catcher does after the ball has crossed the plate has absolutely nothing to do with whether it's a ball or strike.   At best, it's revisionism.  At worst, it turns the game into a crapshoot...determined by whether or not a catcher is good at it...or whether or not an ump is susceptible to it.

 

IMO - ESZ is a disaster because it WILL inevitably be more accurate than umpires, because it will call the literal rulebook definition of the strike zone, and eventually perfectly learn to adjust for each batter.   And the fact is, there are a lot of "according to Hoyle" strikes that no coach, hitter, fan, even pitcher, wants called strikes, and most baseball umps currently don't call them strikes.  They're not good for the game.  And ESZ will never be able to manage the game like a human ump would.   

In any system used by humans, automation is important, but often needs human checks...because only humans will ever understand how humans behave.

I'm good with an ESZ to help umps on the trouble pitches...whether it be in real time or some kind of review process (pro level only)...but anything more than that, any attempt to replace an ump, would be a travesty.

Imagine if robots called NFL games?   You'd have a holding flag every play.

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11 minutes ago, beerguy55 said:

Careful - if there is some sort of properly calibrated tool that can evaluate and compare the accuracy of both systems then you have a tool that could replace both systems.

If it can execute fast enough for game play.

18 minutes ago, beerguy55 said:

A MLB pitcher curveball/slider at 80/90 mph very rarely has a sideways trajectory that is pronounced enough to miss the front of the plate but catch the back of it

Interesting point. I think it's possible. Some of the below for example. I wonder if they really tried how consistent they could get. I doubt it's something they focus on executing.

12 minutes ago, beerguy55 said:

Even a pitch that is coming from above the strike zone will very rarely be above the top at the front of the plate, but dip down in time to catch it at the back.

Not in my LL games that resemble soft pitch softball 😊 (I know we're talking MLB but I couldn't resist)

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On 10/29/2021 at 6:26 PM, Velho said:

If it can execute fast enough for game play.

 

And that's the issue.  Maybe what should have been written earlier in this thread is that the MLB umpires are better than the computer at calling pitches at "game play" speed. 

There's a reason an MLB umpire doesn't receive his plate zone evaluation from MLB until the next day...MLB has to go back and re-calibrate the results in order to correctly evaluate each pitch.  Please know that I am not a computer engineer so I may not be using the correct terminology...but this has all been broken down on www.closecallsports.com many times over the last few years.  The computers are not good enough (at least not yet) to give instantaneous results which are better than an MLB umpire.  It takes MLB nearly 24-hours after a game to get the final computer results.  And, even then, it does not eliminate the computer's margin-of-error completely (or, to put it another way, the margin-of-error, even after all the post-came calibrations are completed, is still not statistically insignificant).

 

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1 hour ago, lawump said:

The computers are not good enough (at least not yet) to give instantaneous results which are better than an MLB umpire. 

Agreed. And, calling back to a prior comment in the thread, it's a money and implementation (i.e. more money) issue. The technology exists. MLB doesn't want to for whatever reason.

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