(New York) Robot umpires will not be called upon to make decisions in Major League Baseball in 2024.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said the Automated Ball-Grab System (ABS), currently used at the AAA level, is not expected to be used in the Majors in 2024.
Manfred said club governors feel like they’ve made a lot of changes recently with the new rules put in place and would rather let the dust settle before moving forward with further changes. Some problems also persist with ABS, despite all the tests carried out.
One of these problems is to establish a digitized catch zone.
The Atlantic League, an independent league, tested ABS in its All-Star Game in 2019. The Arizona Fall League tried it out the same year with the Majors’ top prospects. ABS was then used in eight of the nine Southeast League A-level stadiums in 2021, before being tested at AAA level in 2022.
This season in AAA, half of the matches use ABS while for the other half of the matches, the referees call the balls and strikes themselves. However, teams have the right to challenge these decisions.
MLB adopted the timer between pitches rule this season, in addition to restricting the use of special defenses, limiting the number of wrong-footed attempts by pitchers and setting up wider bases.
The average time of a nine-inning game has dropped to two hours 38 minutes (2:38), compared to 3:05 after the number of games in 2022. The batting average of .248 is up from that of .243 for the entire 2022 season. It is on track to be the highest since the 2019 season.