Commissioner Rob Manfred says Major League Baseball plans to use a computerized camera system to call balls and strikes in spring training games this year, expanding the sport’s implementation of “robot umpires.”
Manfred announced MLB’s plans Wednesday during an interview with Fox Business Network, saying that the “camera-based system” will be “more accurate than a human being standing there.”
“We believe over the long haul it’s going to be more accurate,” Manfred said. “It will reduce controversy in the game and be good for the game.”
Manfred also said that baseball would start using the camera system for balls and strikes in “some of our minor league(s) this year.”
MLB began experimenting with a computerized strike zone last year in the independent Atlantic League. Plate umpires, crouched in their normal position behind the catcher, wore earpieces connected to a phone that relayed ball or strike calls from a camera system.
Baseball also used the system in the Arizona Fall League this past year.
Manfred cautioned Wednesday that referring to the system as “robots may be an overstatement,” and emphasized that “from the fans’ perspective, it looks exactly like it looks today.”
“We think it’s more accurate than a human being standing there,” Manfred said. “The current strike zone design is actually three-dimensional, and a camera is better at calling a three-dimensional strike zone than the human eye.”