Robots Could Be Umpiring MLB Games as Early as 2024

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The days of MLB players and managers arguing calls with behind-the-plate umps appear to be numbered.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred shared in a lengthy interview with ESPN this week that the transition to an automated strike zone is likely to happen by 2024.

Manfred tells ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr., “We have an automated strike zone system that works.”

From ESPN:

In 2024, Manfred says, the automated ball-strike zone system, or as it’s commonly called, “robot umpires,” will likely be introduced. One possibility is for the automated system to call every pitch and transmit the balls and strikes to a home plate umpire via an ear piece. Another option is a replay review system of balls and strikes with each manager getting several challenges a game. The system is being tested in the minor leagues and has shaved nine additional minutes off the average game length this season, MLB data shows. “We have an automated strike zone system that works,” Manfred says.

While he declined to rate MLB umpires’ overall performance this season, Manfred insisted the adaptation of “robot umpires” should not be seen as an indictment of their abilities.

This season, “robot umpires” launched in 11 Pacific Coast League Triple-A teams, putting them one step away from reaching the major leagues, to improve accuracy and reduce delays.  According to ESPN, the robot umpires lop nine minutes off the length of an average game in which they’re used.