Robot umpires not likely to get MLB call-up for 2024

Published 8:08 pm Thursday, June 15, 2023

NEW YORK (AP) — Robot umpires likely won’t be ready for a big league call-up next season.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says the Automatic Ball-Strike System being used at Triple-A is not likely to be used in the big leagues in 2024.

“I think there’s some sentiment among the group that we made had a lot of changes here,” he said Thursday following an owners meeting. “We ought to let the dust settle and there are clearly unresolved operational issues with respect to ABS. Despite all the testing, we still have some things that are unresolved.”

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Defining a computerized strike zone is among the issues.

The independent Atlantic League trialed the ABS system at its 2019 All-Star Game and it was used in that’s year Arizona Fall League of top prospects. The ABS was tried at eight of nine ballparks of the Low-A Southeast League in 2021, then moved up to Triple-A in 2022.

At Triple-A this year, half the games use the robots for ball/strike calls and half have a human making decisions subject to appeals by teams to the ABS.

MLB adopted a pitch clock this year along with restrictions on defensive shifts, pitcher disengagements such as pickoff attempts and larger bases.

Average time of a nine-inning game has dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes from 3:05 through a similar number of games last year. The .248 big league batting average is up from .243 for the full 2022 season and on track to be the highest since 2019.

“Still being a believer in the truism that the big leagues are different, the fact of the matter is the outcomes so far have looked very much like what we saw in the experimentation in minor league baseball, both in terms of game time, number of violations per game, the number of violations coming down over time,” Manfred said.

Average attendance of 27,630 is up from 25,620 through the same number of dates last year.

“We’re going to be up somewhere in the 6 to 8% range, which is nice number for us,” Manfred said.