The KBO is gearing up for a season of change. It’s the one-year anniversary of the introduction of the ABS (Automatic Ball-Strike System). It’s the debut season of the so-called “robot umpires.
While everyone in baseball is paying attention to the changes that the robot umpires will bring, the catchers who have to actually prepare for them are having a brighter time.굿모닝토토 주소
This is because the ‘automatic ball judgment system’ may require a direct change in the framing method and pitch connection behavior that each catcher has been accustomed to.
Until this year, it was common for umpires to make a strike-ball call by reading the point where the pitcher’s ball enters the catcher’s mitt. This is because framing, the catcher’s catching technique, can sometimes change the call.
From next year, however, a computer will calculate the position of the ball. Think of the rectangular strike zone we’ve all seen on TV in recent years.
Gone will be the need to carefully position the mitt to call a strike. However, those with experience with robot umpires have a different interpretation of the framing. As an LG catcher in the Futures League for the past three years while the automated ball judgment system was in operation. SPOTV commentator Lee Sung-woo, who experienced the phenomenon as a battery coach, said, “From the pitcher’s perspective, the approach is different. If you give the impression of catching the ball roughly, it can cause anxiety to the pitcher.” The catcher’s mitt is a kind of target for the pitcher, he explains. “The consistency of the catcher’s mitt can affect a pitcher’s psychology. It is something that cannot be ignored in terms of providing a sense of security.”
KBO President Heo Gu-yeon and Umpire Committee Chairman Heo Woon observe the robot umpire adaptation training at Doosan Bears Park in Icheon last week. Courtesy of the KBO
LG Pitching Coach Kim Kyung-tae, who also experienced robot umpires as a pitching coach in the 2021 Futures League, said the same thing from a pitcher’s perspective. “The pitcher can be affected by the catcher’s pitching position,” he said.
There is still a need for framing, but the consensus is that it will become less important. An example of this is the change in pitching during a stolen base situation with a runner on first base. “In that situation, it will no longer be necessary to extend the mitt for framing,” said Lee. He noted that pitches that lose pitching time in order to be called a strike will be minimized. “For example, with a low ball, if you extend your mitt to catch it, you have a framing advantage on the ball, but it takes more time to pull it back and bring it into the throwing motion. By keeping it closer to your body, you’re preparing to reduce your throwing time to catch the ball.”
It’s also worth noting the change in catcher fielding percentage across the league. This season, the league average is 0.276, and the expectation is that catchers will be able to throw out fewer balls, which will help their chances of stealing bases. However, there are rules that will counteract this, such as limiting the number of pitches (3), so it is difficult to predict.
It’s time for catchers to outsmart the robot umpires. According to those on the field who have experienced the robot umpires in the Futures League, their calls are often different from what they are used to. “In particular, there were cases where a curveball with a large drop was judged as a strike even if it went out of bounds,” said Lee Sung-woo.
The basic purpose of the KBO’s rush to introduce robot umpires is to reduce the deviation of judgments as much as possible, and it is expected that a universalized judgment tendency will emerge accordingly. It is the catcher’s job to read the robot umpire’s tendencies and apply them to the actual ball mix.
It is also recommended to play to the end regardless of the outcome. Although the time it takes for the results to reach the umpires has been reduced, there may still be some discrepancies. This is especially true if the ball is 3-1 or 3-2 and the runner is on base.
Next season will likely be a trial-and-error period for catchers as the robotic umpires are implemented. Which catchers will be the fastest to learn how to use the robot umpires?