MLB Testing Electric Strike Zone


White Sox at Orioles 5/5/17

Mark Elliott, Editor-In-Chief

It has been a matter of debate for a long time now whether or not an electrical strike zone should be implemented in the MLB. Especially in recent years, as there have been many mistakes and many bad games from umpires. This raises the question, are umpires necessary in the MLB today? 

The MLB has been testing the Automated Ball and Strike System since 2019 in the Atlantic League. While also experimenting with low levels on minor league baseball, and so far they have proven to be successful. There are also a lot of rumors that this could start being tested and used in Triple A baseball.

Strikes and balls calls have been much worse in this 2022 MLB season, thus raising the question even further. In the last decade, excluding the 2022 season, umpires have a strike and ball failure rate of 12.78 percent of the time. 

There is some sympathy for the umpires in this situation, they are human too, and it is probably a tough task to correctly call balls and strikes for pitchers throwing 95 MPH. Although, in most senses at most jobs, a nearly 13 percent failure rate is not very good.

When it comes to missing calls on the base paths, there is some room for error as each team gets one challenge per game. Still, umpire mistakes in the past have cost pitchers perfect games, no hitters, cost hitters in clutch situation at-bats, and all baseball fans hate to see a game come down to an umpire decision. 

One of the umpires under a lot of fire is Angel Hernandez and his missed calls. He has become one of the most hated people in the baseball world, as he gets a lot of heckling from fans and has had to eject players on a few occasions for arguing his strike calls. Strike calls are non reviewable and “not arguable” but not many teams and coaches listen to that policy. 

With their being valid points from both sides the question still remains if it is necessary for there to be an electrical strike zone. Umpires and their mistakes have been a part of the game for everyone at some point in their baseball career. It is difficult to estimate when the MLB may have this implemented into the show. With there now being rumors about it being used in Triple A next season, it would seem likely the soonest it will make an appearance is 2024.

This is a really tough topic to pick a side on. From one perspective everyone has to preserve through umpire mistakes and adapt. On the other hand, umpires shouldn’t be making this many mistakes and an electrical strike zone won’t make any mistakes. Regardless, time will tell how soon if at all this makes its way to Major League Baseball, and Angel Hernandez’s job is safe for now.