The automated strike zone idea isn’t new. It isn’t even controversial, unless you are an umpire. Let’s look at whatever issues might exist and how it could be implemented.
The technology for this has been in existence more or less since the turn of the century. That’s close to two decades. Questec started the system, it has been updated continuously by many, and it’s results have been used for pitcher evaluation ever since.
In an age where we can send satellites accurately to other planets, calling and relaying balls and strikes for an umpire to call is child’s play. The homeplate umpire can concentrate on swing/non-swing and balks. No second guessing.
It is self-evident that having the same strike zone from game to game, inning to inning, situation to situation, even pitch to pitch would be much fairer for both hitters and pitchers. Established stars would no longer get the pitch off the corner as a strike (pitchers) or the one on the corner a ball (hitters). It would be a much more level playing field for everyone.
I realize that other sports will always have a more human element from their officials (especially football and basketball), but MLB could use that to their advantage. “We are the most accurately officiated major sport!” would be a fine tag line.
Dan Szymborski cites some very telling statistics in his article for ESPN. Most telling are the OPS stats for hitters in different counts. For instance, hitters in a 1-2 count OPS .423; those with a 2-1 count OPS .873. Every bad call negatively impacts the game for either the pitcher or hitter. Do they even out? Maybe. But that situation just doesn’t need to be relevant…it is easily correctable.
As Lindsey Berra points out eloquently in her article for MLB.com, purists argue that adjusting the strike zone for every hitter would be too difficult, and that the delay in calling a ball or strike would affect the game.
Second point first: technology to relay the correct call…