The Automated K Zone & Technology. Is it time?

The discussion came up over the weekend in ZMunchkin’s articles on the Nats catchers that FP Santangelo incessantly praised Lobaton on his pitch framing ability to which you think a strike should be a strike, and pitch framing while legal was trying to steal a strike and was just another form of legal cheating in baseball. No big deal, or is it, as nobody really sees this as a major problem in baseball or should this be part of the problem at-hand, but what about “a strike should be a strike”?

We wrote back on October 27th in an article on Lenny Dykstra’s trangressions:

“Cheating in baseball is nothing new and guarantee you it happens in every game and you probably haven’t thought of framing pitches as cheating, but think about it, taking a ball you know is out of the zone and jerk it back to deceive the umpire is cheating.”

What amazing timing because ESPN just wrote an article (linked below) which is about Robo-Ump and this part reads:

“We even have, in recent years, new tools that track how good catchers are at framing pitches. That we have data for how well a catcher can get strikes properly called (or successfully get strikes that are unproperly called) just boggles the mind.”

In our nightly in-game discussions during the season, a day doesn’t go by that we aren’t ripping on an umpire for an egregious miss on a ball/strike call when it goes against our Nats.  MNF (Manassas Nats Fan) could have been the first person years ago in the Nats Blogosphere calling for Robo-Ump, and it wasn’t met at first with a lot of support.  Slowly though, sentiment is changing and when we did the story about Lenny Dykstra’s claim that he influenced umpires under duress it really brought this story around to the human element good/bad/indifferent.

The Dykstra story, linked below, (and we aren’t talking about Cutter Dykstra marrying Jamie-Lynn Siglar this week) was one of our most popular pieces in 2015.  Now, ESPN wants to talk about Robo-Ump and when the The Worldwide Leader in Sports™ brings it up, we will bring you first to this as a refresher:

and then give you the link to the new ESPN piece which begins with:

Editor’s note: In the days leading up to Rob Manfred’s one-year anniversary as commissioner on Jan. 25, we asked our writers what one change or innovation they would make to improve baseball if the sport were starting over today.

The change:

“Implement automated strike zones.”

The ESPN piece is good but it doesn’t cut deep enough into the “integrity” issue as they wrote:

“Integrity in a sport isn’t just making sure the players are all following rules but making sure that the rules are being enforced in a consistent and fair manner. A game in which veteran pitchers don’t magically get more strike calls on the corners is a fairer, better game.”

The ESPN article makes no mention of Lenny Dykstra and his claims, and if you thought steroids was a problem in sports, a cheating official with years of integrity issues discovered in hindsight could be even more devastating to the fabric of this game or any game, and this is why we need Robo-ump more so as the technology exists and creates a fair uniformity of the rules in a consistent and an equitable manner.  Lenny Dykstra should have taught anyone who cared to listen that any undue influence is not out of the realm of possibilities where an otherwise honorable person could succumb to duress.

The human element with umpires, even assuming the highest levels of honesty and integrity, has maintained a 14% ‘fail’ rate called on balls and strikes.  Take an average MLB game where 288 pitches are thrown and batters swing at 46.7% of those 288 pitches on average, which leaves 153.5 pitches per game that the umpire has to call balls and strikes.  14% of 154 pitches = 21.49 pitches that are incorrect on average per game.

Those 21.49 incorrectly judged pitches per game is an average and since some umpires are better than that average think about the umps who are getting 25 wrong per game.  That’s 3,481 wrong calls over a season and some of those end up changing the game.  Do we embrace a readily available technology that would speed up the game so we don’t see this type of image any more:

Photo by Presswire © shown for illustration purposes. All rights reserved.

bryce harper angel hernandez
Talk about a new way to speed up the game, less arguments saves time, and add to that the decrease in the frustration factor, and then think how wonderful it would be to neutralize the poor umpiring of the likes of Joe West, C. B. Bucknor and Angel Hernandez. 

harper brooks plot


“Tennis can live with it, so can MLB. If they’re not going to go electronic, then MLB needs to (1) standardize the pitch-calling position; (2) seriously monitor pitch-calling, not give allowances a man with cataracts could pass; (3) give every umpire a list of blown calls at the end of every game; (4) fire the bottom ten at the end of every season, or at least demote them to the minor leagues; (5) demand a reasonable retirement age so these guys don’t think they’re entitled to their jobs for life and call every pitch as it takes their fancy.”


This entry was posted in Analysis, Feature. Bookmark the permalink.