About freaking time.
When Major League Baseball used its relationship with the independent Atlantic League to test, among other things, an electronic strike zone, the writing was more or less on the wall. The time was coming that, eventually, some formulation of electronic balls and strikes would be coming to MLB.
To that end, Commissioner Rob Manfred made things abundantly clear yesterday during the Little League Classic festivities: he wants electronic balls and strikes in the game, period.
Responding to a question about forward-thinking measures taken by Little League that MLB could itself seek to adopt, Manfred went straight to balls and strikes. Though maybe not for precisely the reasons you’d presume.
“I think the automated strike zone could be really helpful to us,” Manfred said on the ESPN broadcast. “I think it would produce a consistency around the strike zone. I think that our umpires do a great job, but they’re human. We do have the technology, and I do think an automated strike zone would put you in a position to manage that strike zone. Where should it be exactly to produce the amount of offense you want. I think that could be a very important change.”
Although my reasoning behind wanting some kind of electronic zone implementation (I’m fine with a challenge system at first) is primarily just about rooting out the TERRIBLE missed calls we see each year, I do think Manfred is onto something that having an electronic zone would allow you to make adjustments quickly and consistently to account for offensive changes in the game. I sure do like that idea, though I expect it’ll make some folks squeamish. Keep in mind, the league already mandates certain changes to the strike zone from time to time – it’s just that it requires HUMAN implementation, which is obviously inconsistent.