Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Is It Time For Robot's To Call Balls and Strikes

Beyond the Boxscore poses an interesting argument. They think it's time for the some sort of automative system to call balls and strikes based on a tracking device. Below is a picture of gameday's placement of the pitches during Pat Burrell's at bat in the 5th inning.

BTB goes onto say:
Pitches 6 and 4 were either fouls or swinging strikes with pitch 1 being a favorable called strike. Where did pitches 5 and 9 miss? Well, I don't know, actually. Even the Fox Track thing, which I don't entirely trust, had them within the strike zone. Essentially Kazmir struck Burrell out, twice. Instead Burrell walked, Kazmir was lifted, and Grant Balfour had to work his way out of a jam.

I'm not going to say that if we had robot strike callers last night the outcome would've been different. For one, knowing MLB, the robots would've short circuited in the rain, and two, using results based analysis we know the game is tied. However I question the judgment of anyone who places tradition or anything else over getting calls like these right in every game, and especially in the biggest games.

It hasn't changed the outcome of the series, but when the gold standard of umpires are getting this many calls wrong, it might time to implement instant replay and robots.

Dave Pinto at Baseball Musings:
It strikes me that there should be some electronic way to determine if the ball crossed the plate. Either a transponder or a local GPS system. It would then be up to the umpire to call the ball high or low. That's the tough call, because every batter has a different strike zone based on height and stance. Take away one dimension from the umpire, and you make their job a bit easier.

While I can go back and forth on this one, I firmly believe that with Bud Selig running the show, any implementation of this type of system would be an absolute disgrace. So before they start adding robots into the booth, they should replace him.