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Ball & Strike Challenges

Discussion in 'Red Sox Forum' started by redsox102704, Jul 14, 2017.

  1. redsox102704

    redsox102704 lurker

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    I think it's time to implement a challenge system for balls and strikes. Since every stadium (I think) has an electronic strike zone that we see on TV, here's what I was thinking of. Each team can challenge three pitches per game. If they are proven right on any of the three, one more will be awarded.

    The beauty of the system is that the computer has already decided whether the pitch is a ball or strike as soon as it crosses the plate. No replay is necessary. The challenge would simply entail the home plate umpire (or crew chief) signaling (or using an earpiece to contact) a replay official. The replay official would then simply tell the umpire what the pitch computer saw. The whole process shouldn't take more than 15 seconds.

    This system still allows the human element to remain, but allows for some relief on a few close pitches that can decide a game.
     
  2. CoffeeNerdness

    CoffeeNerdness Member SoSH Member

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  3. riboflav

    riboflav Member SoSH Member

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    Can I add? Hell, no!
     
  4. Jordu

    Jordu Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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  5. Philip Jeff Frye

    Philip Jeff Frye Member SoSH Member

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    nm
     
    #5 Philip Jeff Frye, Jul 14, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
  6. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

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    2,197
    Because the humans are unionized. Don't hold your breath for robot USPS mail delivery either.

    Half-jokes aside, I'd argue the purpose of replay review in sports is to avoid the consequences of an obviously, objectively wrong call. We have that today in baseball: home run / foul, trap / catch, safe / out, etc. But I'm not sure borderline pitch calls rise to the level of "objectively right/wrong" very often.
     
  7. bsj

    bsj Renegade Crazed Genius SoSH Member

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    15,988
    Balls and strikes should be computer called to begin with. Humans were instilled as arbiters in sport when technologies to do so we're not even imaginable. To intentionally maintain a fallible system for purposes of tradition is ridiculous.
     
  8. nvalvo

    nvalvo Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    13,006
    A problem with this that is rarely acknowledged is that the pitchFX cameras/computers just plain miss some small percentage of pitches. Not a ton, not even one percent. But some.

    Until that changes, we aren't ready.
     
  9. iayork

    iayork Member SoSH Member

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    591
    It's worse than 1%, I think, depending on what a "miss" is. We really don't know what the actual accuracy of the PITCHf/x (or, this year, the TrackMan) systems are in practice. Assuming that PITCHf/x works like every other instrument, presumably there's a roughly normal distribution of accuracy, where 68% of the pitches are shown within one standard deviation of their true location. What's that standard deviation? No idea. Probably the operators know, but we don't.

    My feeling, mostly a guess, is that one standard deviation is on the order of 1/2 inch, in practice. That's pretty good, but it means that about 5% of pitches are one inch off, and about 0.3% are two inches away from their true location. (Plus, occasional whacky things where PITCHf/x measures the wrong thing. Much more rare now than they used to be, but I think the PITCHf/x release point still shows Koji Uehara throwing one pitch left-handed, for example.)

    One inch isn't much, but it's certainly enough to change a ball from a strike. That's going to affect about 15-20 pitches per game -- mostly harmlessly since most pitches are not within an inch of the edge of the zone, but a lot of pitches are, since that's where pitchers aim.

    I think umpires are about 97% accurate (but that's based on comparing to PITCHf/x ... but I also base it on changes larger than an inch). I don't know that PITCHf/x would be more accurate than umpires.

    I have no sense for how accurate the TrackMan system, which they started using this year instead of PITCHf/x, is. If the standard deviation is less than a half inch under actual ballpark conditions, then it could enter the conversation.
     
  10. Snodgrass'Muff

    Snodgrass'Muff oppresses WARmongers Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    The other factor we have to consider is that the plot we see on the screen isn't the strike zone in that particular AB. It's an approximation of the league average strike zone. But the zone changes with every hitter because every hitter is a different height. The left and right edges should remain constant, of course, but high and low strikes will not be. So using PITCHf/x in disputes over high or low strikes may not be any more accurate than the ump on any given call.
     
  11. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar lurker

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    Another factor to consider is that the plot seen on the screen is two-dimensional; whereas, the strike zone is three-dimensional. So where does the measurement take place...at the front edge of the plate or the back end of the strike zone?

    From MLB Rules: The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball.

    For starters, how do you accurately determine where "the hollow beneath the kneecap" is, especially when the batter is wearing baggy pants?

    That aside, a sinking fastball may be thrown so the top of the ball just clips the bottom of the strike zone right at the front edge of the plate (i.e., the beginning of the strike zone) and then continue sinking so it is below the hollow of the knee when it reaches the batter's legs. It may not look like one but by definition it is one. An umpire is positioned a few feet from the from edge of the plate. How well can he, or something like PITCHf/x or TrakMan, judge the exact moment when the ball enters the strike zone?

    By the same token, the umpire must judge the exact midway distance between the top of the batter's shoulders and the top of his uniform pants. Batters may well be into their swing before the ball even gets to the strike zone. If a right-handed batter checks his swing, his right shoulder probably drops and his left hip may rise, disrupting the guidelines. In this case, you have the bottom of a high pitch clipping the top of the rear of the strike zone.

    On the right- and left-hand sides of the strike zone you have pitches that tail away from the zone. How easy it it to judge, humanly or electronically, if a ball clips the fron of the zone and tails away of curves into the rear of the zone?

    Finally, a 100-mph pitch is in the strike zone for approximately 11.3 milliseconds (d=17" + diameter of ball).

    As an aside to this, I had a tour of the PITCHf/x operation during a game at St. Louis back in 2007 and they had a person watching live video for each batter so they could place the bottom of the strike zone. This was done preparatory to building a database for each batter but if the operator chose to mark it when the batter first got to the box as opposed to when the batter took his actual batting position, there could have been differences.
     
  12. the moops

    the moops Member SoSH Member

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    If I had to choose one that would more accurately and more frequently do so, it would not be the human crouching behind the plate.
     
  13. Kenny F'ing Powers

    Kenny F'ing Powers posts 18% useful shit Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    9,351
    Put a sensor on players belts. Inspect uniforms before the game to ensure guys aren't wearing belts down to their asshole. Problem solved.
     
  14. Snodgrass'Muff

    Snodgrass'Muff oppresses WARmongers Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    How do you account for variations in the size of players torsos and legs? Or how much a player crouches in their stance?
     
  15. nvalvo

    nvalvo Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    You could weave the sensor into the uniforms at the knee and chest.
     
  16. Max Power

    Max Power thai good. you like shirt? SoSH Member

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    Expect this to become the popular look.
    [​IMG]
     
  17. Rasputin

    Rasputin Will outlive SeanBerry Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Accuracy is only part--and the lesser part--of the problem. Every single person in the game and the vast majority of the fans will tell you that consistency is more important than accuracy. The errors you speak of will clearly lead to some inconsistency but I rather suspect it would be an improvement over the bad umpires.

    Personally, I would like to see an experiment where they put something akin to an RFID chip in the ball to see if it still plays like the current balls. I could be mistaken, of course, but I'd think it would improve accuracy.
     
  18. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    3,372
    It seems painfully obvious to me that you would just standardize the bottom and top of the strike zone. 30 inches to 60 inches or whatever makes the most sense.
     
  19. Curt S Loew

    Curt S Loew SoSH Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Some things don't make sense.
    [​IMG]
     
  20. HriniakPosterChild

    HriniakPosterChild Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    I know, right? Who thought those socks were a good idea--the dentist?!
     
  21. Van Everyman

    Van Everyman Member SoSH Member

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    This isn't complicated: fit umps with Google Glasses using PitchFX data. Problem solved.
     
  22. the moops

    the moops Member SoSH Member

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    How much a player crouches should have no impact on their strike zone.
     
  23. Kenny F'ing Powers

    Kenny F'ing Powers posts 18% useful shit Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Preseason measurements. Stance changes shouldn't matter.
     
  24. joe dokes

    joe dokes Member SoSH Member

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    I thought the rulebook does allow for some stance-related crouching in determining the strike zone.
     
  25. Kenny F'ing Powers

    Kenny F'ing Powers posts 18% useful shit Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    If it's that drastic of a change, take 30 seconds and get remeasured.
     
  26. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    I understand that and don't think it should have an impact. Make the zone as big or as small (and as low and as tall) as desired and have the players learn their way around it. I don't have a problem making short guys learn how to hit high ones (Pedey would sign up for this yesterday) and tall guys to hit low ones.
     
  27. joe dokes

    joe dokes Member SoSH Member

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    8,056
    For stickball in the schoolyard in brooklyn, the strike zone was drawn in chalk on the wall behind the batter. It didn't change for the short kids. Chalk on the ball meant strike on the black.
     
  28. HriniakPosterChild

    HriniakPosterChild Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    It's based on the height when the player swings. If the guy puts his chin on the ground when waiting for the pitch and stands at normal height when swinging, the latter is what counts.
     
  29. timlinin8th

    timlinin8th Member SoSH Member

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    995
    The answer really lies in between: Automate the static horizontal axis of the plate, put a small LED in the plate umps mask that lights up if the ball goes over the plate (using an rfid in the ball or some other method) and let the umps call the vertical "batter height" part of the zone. The egregious 6 inch outside calls go away, but the union stays happy because the humans get to human still. Its a small step but the game needs to start making small steps instead of trying to integrate sweeping changes that go nowhere.

    *edit* and go the point of ball and strike challenges, NO EFFIN WAY. Omg that would be a colossal disaster.
     
  30. DrewDawg

    DrewDawg Dorito Dink SoSH Member

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    It's when "preparing to swing", not when when swinging, although this could be a minuscule difference.
     
  31. Savin Hillbilly

    Savin Hillbilly loves the secret sauce SoSH Member

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    This would effectively create a built-in advantage for players of average height at the expense of players at the extremes, and to what purpose? Just to facilitate robot-umpery? I'm pro-bot in principle, but I think this is a terrible idea. If you can't implement automated ball-strike calls in a way that works according the rulebook for players of every size, then don't do it.
     
  32. Lose Remerswaal

    Lose Remerswaal Leaves after the 8th inning Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Like they do . . . in PRISON?
     
  33. BigChara33

    BigChara33 lurker

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    Then someone needs to just crouch all the way until their knees touch their chest. Good luck getting a strikeout...
     
  34. garlan5

    garlan5 Member SoSH Member

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    Just put a virtual reality headset on the ump so he can watch pitchfx then just have him do some funny antics like the naked gun
     
  35. Sampo Gida

    Sampo Gida lurker

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    MLB seems to have taken a step back from Pitch f/x as statcast is no tas accurate or reliable according to this

    https://www.google.com.tw/amp/s/fiv...ch-tracking-system-is-just-a-bit-outside/amp/

    Pitch f/x is better, but not perfectly accurate as well. So one has to determine what is the accuracy and what calls are clearly outside defined error bands, be that 1 inch, 2 inch etc. Borderline calls within thesecerror bands wont be able to be changed.

    As I recall , SportsVision claims Pitch f/x is accurate to within 1 inch when properly calibrated. However it is not always properly calibrated

    Calibration Drifting due to lighting changes and the stadium moving resulting in increased error during a game. My understanding is recalibration was notvpissible during the game.

    Measurement Error (Calibration Error) by Stadium can be greater than 1.5 inches horizontally and 1.1 inches vertically although I believe that may have improved since the early years.

    I'd like to see a system that is self correcting rather than challenge based. A wireless transmission to the ump instructing a change to his call. This eliminates some ludicrous calls where balls right down the middle are called balls and balls 3 inches outside are called strikes.

    If the system is down, out of calibration or whatever then so be it. Umps call stands as it has for over 100 years.
     
  36. Dewey'sCannon

    Dewey'sCannon lurker

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    I think the first step should be to use Pitch F/X (or whatever automated system works best) as an "aid" to the umpire - if the pitch is in the zone, it triggers a vibration in the ump's ball/strike counter (do they still have those) so he has this info when he makes his call.

    And part of the review process for the umps would be to track the rate of deviation fro each ump and review those calls where the ump's call differed from the system to see if the call was reasonably justifiable.
     
  37. AB in DC

    AB in DC OG Football Writing Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    I watched part of the Wimbledon men's final this weekend. A couple times, one of the players challenged whether a ball was inside the line or outside the line. Each challenge took 15 seconds at most. I'm not exaggerating -- challenge was made, someone punched it up on a computer, and the visuals were immediately displayed on a big monitor next to the court. If you blinked you probably wouldn't even notice it.

    If baseball could do the same thing for the strike zone -- at least on the horizontal access -- would that really be such a bad thing?
     
  38. Hoodie Sleeves

    Hoodie Sleeves Member SoSH Member

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    702
    Yeah, this.

    PitchFX/TrackMan/Whatever doesn't have to be perfect. It has to be better than the umpires, and from what I've seen, it already is.


    The vertical thing is nonsense - the umps make a ton of high/low strike mistakes, and the adjustments they make to tall/short batters are almost non-existent.


    This whole thing sounds like the argument against robot cars - where people are arguing about how a car will handle the Train Problem - while we've got people driving around texting and eating a burrito while driving.

    Don't let the best be the enemy of the better.
     
    #38 Hoodie Sleeves, Jul 17, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
  39. Sampo Gida

    Sampo Gida lurker

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    One of the concerns with using tech to make calls is security and also reliability issues. For example can the system be hacked and someone introduce a bias to one team or another by altering the algorithm. Gamblers or even some teams might be so motivated. How quickly can such a hack be detected? Would we ever know about it?

    Also, calibrations fail and such failures may not be detected right away. We will all trust the robot when he is as wrong as a drunk and blind ump behind the plate because robots are always right, even when they are off.

    Then there is the human element. Pitchers with good command and catchers with good framing skills getting more calls than those who dont, and hitters with the ability to adjust to a variable zone better than those who just swing at everything after a bad call. Do we want to eliminate that?
     
  40. uncannymanny

    uncannymanny Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    2,993
    To throw some cold water on the smart ball idea:

    1) a quick Google says MLB uses approx 160k in-game balls per year. Whose salary are the 160k smart chips and whatever they need to make them impact-resilient coming out of? Certainly not either union, so it's likely that MLB itself would have to care enough to spend whatever it costs to make those balls.

    2) RFID/BTLE/etc are also, having programmed with both, not capable of sub-inch accuracy, especially moving at 90+ mph. They would also be used in an environment full of other devices. We've seen how reliable the NFL's wireless headsets are.

    3) Any ball tracking tech would have to be installed in the plate and, although it's possible, I'm not sure how accurate separating balls, hands and bats crossing the plate would be.

    It's far more likely that a better camera-tracking system is the answer, which brings us right back to improving the current systems.

    (Maybe I'm forgetting some tech, forgive me if I missed something obvious)
     
    #40 uncannymanny, Jul 17, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017

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