Robot umpires are getting closer to the major leagues. Last week, MLB announced that robot umps will be calling balls in strikes in at least ten Triple-A ballparks. The opinions are mixed among the players, but former Dodgers starter Rich Hill is not a fan.
Hill appeared on Buster Olney’s ESPN podcast and is highly skeptical of utilizing robot umpires. Hill believes that robo-umps won’t aid MLB’s efforts to increase the number of runs scored.
“Does this promote offense in the game, with an automated strike zone? If pitchers, we figure out a way to drop in a curveball in there, and it nicks the strike zone but never really gets back of the plate because you’re going to be able to hit the front of the plate, is that something that’s going to be fair for the hitters?”
Hill said he’s “1000% against” using an automated strike zone. He think robs-umps will degrade the art of pitching and render adept pitch-framing catchers obsolete.
According to Olney, it’s “only a matter of time” before the automated strike zone comes to the bigs. Hill and Olney aren’t the only one commenting on the idea of using robo-umps in MLB. There’s been plenty of chatter amongst fans, players, analysts, and everyone in between.
Hill’s Thought On an Unintended Consequence
Hill did broach an interesting aspect of the automated strike zone that hasn’t been front-and center.
“Another side of this that we may be missing out [on], is what’s going to happen on the gambling front? Being able to put on an automated strike zone is something that could be extremely dangerous and going down the other side of this that no one has entertained yet.”
The Master of the Curveball theorized that gamblers could leverage the strike zone algorithm to unfairly increase their odds on potential wagers.
Safe to say, the 42-year-old Hill is hoping he’s retired before Skynet becomes self aware.
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