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Major League Baseball will test computer plate umpires during spring training but will not use the system for decisions in any exhibition games.
From the box seats to the far reaches of the bleachers, all 40,000 umpires in the stands at Nationals Park were sure they could tell: Gerrit Cole’s fastball to Victor Robles missed the strike zone. By at least an inch, clearly.
A hot topic all year has been the idea of computerizing the strike zone, the rise of the robot umpires. It’s drawn even more attention here in October – we’ve already seen a perfect example of a missed call when Marcell Ozuna was rung up in the ninth inning of Game 3 between the Cardinals and Braves.
“Robot umpires” have arrived. The independent Atlantic League became the first American professional baseball league to let a computer call balls and strikes, using the system at its All-Star Game. Plate umpire Brian deBrauwere wore an earpiece connected to an iPhone in his pocket and relayed the call upon receiving it from a TrackMan computer system that uses Doppler radar.
Robot umpires will get some more warmup time. Major League Baseball and the Atlantic League say the experiment with radar-tracking technology to call balls and strikes will not be used when the independent minor league starts play on April 25. Instead, the technology will be implemented at an unspecified point later this year. Extending the distance between the pitching rubber and home plate by 2 feet to 62 1/2 feet was pushed back to the second half of the 2020 season.