Sorry Gary Sheffield Jr, Robot Umps May Be A Terrible Idea

Videos by OutKick

As the MLB experiments with an institution of an automated strike zone system in its minor leagues and partner leagues, a new debate over the auto-strike zone has begun.

The robot’s use is one of a number of experimental rules announced, which the league said are “designed to increase action on the basepaths, create more balls in play, improve the pace and length of games, and reduce player injuries.”

Former MLB player Jordan Pacheco, currently playing for the Lexington Legends of the Atlantic League, started the new discussion over the auto-strike zone Thursday night with footage of one of his own at-bats, Yahoo Sports reports.

In the video below, Pacheco is batting in the eighth inning and the count at 1-2 when pitcher Benny Wanger fires what looks like a clear outside fastball. The right-handed batter holds off from the pitch as the catcher lunges across the plate to haul in the ball.

The announcer immediately starts saying “Ball two is outside,” until the umpire signals the auto-strike zone has called strike three — Pacheco argues with the umpire, leading to the stadium playing “Let it Go” from Disney’s “Frozen.” Pacheco sent a cynical thank you to MLB after the game, who oversees the use of the system:

Houston Astros star Alex Bregman said “Please no,” while Rob Friedman referenced bad calls by human umps.

Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson wanted to see a better angle of the video, to which one of Pacheco’s teammates replied with a video of another bad call.

But for as long as we can remember, OutKick’s Gary Sheffield Jr. has been against keeping the human element in MLB umpiring.

“There is no logical explanation for keeping the human element in MLB umpiring,” Sheffield Jr. tweeted last week. “None.”

But Sheffield Jr. says “electronic strike zones can be mastered over time, the human element will always be flawed.”

When asked for comment on Pacheco’s video, Yahoo Sports reports the Atlantic League responded with the following statement from league president Rick White:

“We understand players may disagree with Automated Balls/Strikes, just as they do with umpire strike zones, however it is troubling when uniformed personnel make statements about ABS without fully understanding the facts,” White said. “ABS is dependable and is more consistent than human umpires. We are fully committed to our test rules partnership with Major League Baseball and will continue working closely with them to explore possibilities for our sport.”

Written by Megan Turner

Megan graduated from the University of Central Florida and writes and tweets about anything related to sports. She replies to comments she shouldn't reply to online and thinks the CFP Rankings are absolutely rigged. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


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