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MLB continues to experiment with its “robo-ump,” introducing the automated balls and strikes system during a Pacific Coast League game Monday.
The Triple-A game between the Albuquerque Isotopes and the Salt Lake City Bees was the first to feature the system in the league, having already been used this season in the Arizona Fall League and International League.
The automatic balls and strikes system features a bigger strike zone, with every pitch that clips the zone in any way called a strike. Kris Bryant, Rockies third baseman and 2016 National League MVP, has been rehabbing with the Isotopes and said he would like to see a bit more unpredictability on borderline pitches.
“I wish there was more of, you have to have X percentage of the ball that crosses the zone for it to be a strike,” Bryant said, via The Athletic. “Because the ones that just nick the corner, that’s the gray area. As a pitcher you’re like, ‘maybe it’s a strike?’ And as a hitter you’re like, ‘I don’t know either.’”
Nonetheless, Bryant isn’t 100% against the system making its way to MLB. The 30-year-old said he would welcome a tool that helps umpires get the call right.
“I’m not totally against it,” Bryant said. “Umpires want to get the calls right. They’re not out there trying to influence the game one way or the other. If they have a tool at their advantage to every call right, that’s great.”
MLB players such as Phillies designated hitter Kyle Schwarber have seemingly become more frustrated with the inconsistencies behind the plate this season. After a string of questionable calls made by home plate umpire Ángel Hernández in Philadelphia’s home loss against the Brewers on April 24, Schwarber decided he’d had enough.
An irate Schwarber slammed his bat and helmet down before getting in the face of Hernández. He was rung up for the outburst and said after the game that the calls being made weren’t good.
“I’m not here to bury anyone, but it wasn’t very good,” Schwarber said. “You wish … I don’t know how to really say it. It just wasn’t very good. Guys were doing a really good job tonight of not saying much. It just got to me to where I was going to stick up for some other guys.”