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#pounditMonday, June 24, 2024

Rob Manfred hints at big change coming to MLB

Rob Manfred looking ahead

Oct 26, 2021; Houston, TX, USA; MLB commissioner Rob Manfred before game one of the 2021 World Series between the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

A big change is likely on its way to Major League Baseball, at least according to commissioner Rob Manfred.

Manfred said Thursday that there is “growing consensus” in favor of a system that would allow players to challenge balls and strikes. The system, which has been trialed in the minor leagues, would use technology to potentially overrule an umpire’s ball or strike calls.

Manfred does not rule out further expansion of an automated balls and strikes system eventually, but appears content to start by allowing players to challenge calls. That would represent a massive change, as balls and strikes are one of the few things that are still untouchable as far as the current challenge system goes. They are also much more subjective than most other calls, but that could be seriously reduced by the introduction of an automated system.

When you see some of the pitches that umpires have missed this year, it is easy to see why Manfred might want to make some changes. The automated system has been used at various levels since 2019 and has been used throughout Triple-A in some form since 2022. Presumably, if it does come to MLB, it will not be before 2025 at the earliest.

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