Perhaps the most controversial call in baseball since the game’s inception has been the strike-ball call. Players, coaches, and fans alike are not happy with strike-ball calls. It’s no wonder. Umpires are human. It’s impossible to call a pitch that’s traveling over 150 kilometers per hour and bouncing up and down with 100% accuracy.

Major League Baseball (MLB) has tried to solve this problem. It started with Quebec, which was introduced in 2001. Although the information was not made available to fans, it was used to evaluate umpire performance.

카지노 Kyungmin Park, reporter
In 2007, the Korean Baseball Organization introduced a pitch tracking system called PITCH f/x. It’s the same principle as a missile tracking device, but with a graphical representation of the pitch trajectory. It showed the judgment of every pitch in every game, not only to the clubs but also to the fans. The results were shocking. In 2008, the accuracy rate was only 81.3%. In 2017, Statcast, which incorporates camera technology, was introduced to provide more accurate data.

Kyungmin Park
More recently, automated ball-strike systems (ABS) have become more advanced. It is based on a tracking system called “Hawkeye” created by Sony. Sports fans are already familiar with Hawkeye. Tennis was the first to use it, and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association and the International Volleyball Federation also use it.

The MLB office is implementing the system in all 30 Triple-A ballparks this season. The ABS system tracks not only the velocity of the pitch, but also the amount of rotation, ups and downs, and of course, strike and ball judgment. The effect is clear. With the introduction of the pitch tracking system, the accuracy rate of judgment in 2022 rose to 92.4%. Machine surveillance improved the accuracy of the calls. Should we be satisfied that 8 out of 100 pitches are wrong?

Jae Min Shin
If you analyze the course, the accuracy rate for balls that are clearly in the strike zone is 99.3 to 99.5%. However, calls on pitches that cross the zone are still inaccurate. In 2008, the accuracy rate for pitches thrown by pitchers on the borderline of the strike zone was 66.2%. Last year, it was 80.8 percent.

Jae Min Shin
About 38% of pitches thrown by pitchers are on the borderline. In a typical game, there are about 300 pitches thrown by both teams, so that’s more than 100 pitches a game, and about 20 of them are called strikes and 20 of them are called balls. Based on the results of the last 15 years, the MLB office believes it will be difficult to improve the accuracy any further. They’ve reached the limit of what the human eye can see.

Broadcasters display an imaginary strike zone on their screens during baseball games. The problem is that these graphics are two-dimensional, showing only height and width from side to side. ABS, however, uses 12 cameras to establish a virtual, three-dimensional strike zone. As soon as it is confirmed that the ball has passed through this zone, it is immediately relayed to the umpire through the earpiece. When it was first introduced, there were frequent complaints about low-court calls. However, over time, these complaints have faded.

In the past, it was accepted that “bad calls are part of the game”. But now, there’s no reason for that. Thanks to the video replay system. The accuracy of calls has increased in many areas, including fouls/fairs and outs/saves. In fact, the referees were initially cold, but not anymore. Fans don’t feel awkward when a referee’s decision is overturned by the replay.

The fundamental value of sports is fairness. Few things in our society are as fair as sports. Ironically, the strike zone hasn’t always been fair since baseball was created. If robot umpires can make baseball a more “fair game,” then the introduction of robot umpires is inevitable. It is unfortunate that the advanced skill of catcher’s framing (the ability to catch a ball so that it is called a strike) will be useless.

  • The full series of “Song Jae-woo’s Baseball Shoes” is available on The JoongAng Plus, the JoongAng Daily’s premium digital subscription service.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *