Paul Skenes Opposes MLB's Adoption of Automated Strike System

Pitcher-catcher dynamics under scrutiny amid MLB's call accuracy trials

by Zain ul Abedin
Paul Skenes Opposes MLB's Adoption of Automated Strike System
© Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Potential Major League Baseball megastar, Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Paul Skenes, expressed his concerns with his future employer, Major League Baseball, implementing an Automated Ball-Strike System (ABS). During an interview with The Pat McAfee Show, Skenes described some of the current experiments being conducted within the minor leagues in an attempt to ensure fairness when making calls for balls and strikes.

MLB is currently trialing two systems in Triple-A games to address concerns over call accuracy. For the first half of the week, an automated system advises umpires via an earpiece on the correct call, which they then announce.

The latter half of the week introduces a challenge system, where players can contest the umpire's decisions on ball and strike calls, although challenges are not unlimited.

ABS Impact on Catchers

Skenes, who has also played as a catcher, argued that an ABS would undermine a crucial aspect of a catcher's role pitch framing.

This skill, which involves the catcher positioning and receiving the ball in a way that persuades umpires to call in their favor, is a significant part of what keeps catchers competitive in MLB. "I was hoping to make it as a catcher in the majors, and pitch framing is a big part of job security for us behind the plate," Skenes explained.

He emphasized that the ABS would strip catchers of this essential skill, thereby impacting their career longevity and effectiveness. The strong partnership between pitchers and catchers is fundamental to baseball, involving strategic pitch calling and managing the game's flow from behind the plate.

This relationship extends beyond simply executing plays; it encompasses the management of game dynamics and ensuring defensive stability, which includes blocking and throwing out runners. While MLB's exploration of new technologies in the minors indicates a drive towards perfecting call accuracy, there is palpable concern among players like Skenes about the implications for the game's traditional roles.

Moreover, with every broadcast now featuring a strike zone box and heightened scrutiny over umpire performance, the pressure to maintain precision in calls has never been higher. As the debate continues, the future of ABS in MLB remains a contentious topic among players, fans, and officials alike.