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The Shift Is Good: Automated Strike Zone Is Better | #MLB

There is a group of baseball fans known as purists. Every morning they remember attending their first baseball game and watching Cy Young pitch against the Red Stockings. They paid 3 cents for their seats back then, and they lived life with no worries. They were still many years from being too old to fight in WWII. As the game evolved, they fought every change that came along. The banning of spit balls, the implementation of an American League DH, and even integration.

So stuck in their ways, and their way of thinking, they refuse to even listen to a good argument about helping the game they love evolve with it's new younger fan base. Why do grocery stores carry Fruity Pebbles? There's nothing wrong with Puffed Wheat. Unfortunately. these old heads are the ones that run the game. Here's a look at two rules being discussed. One they want, and one they don't.

Ban The Shift

In the 2023 off season, Major League Baseball plans to discuss and put in place, a rule that will end the shift as we know it today. It is currently being used in the minor leagues, and there is wide spread belief it will work and be embraced in The Show.

The raggedy old men making the decision point to the fact that there should be two infielders left of second base. That is how it was in little league, high school, college, and even the pros until managers like Joe Maddon flipped the game on it's head.

Sure, the shift was used against players like Ted Williams and Willie McCovey, but not on every at bat. They will point to a player like Joey Gallo, who has faced the shift in 91.4% of his at bats since the start of the 2021 season and will point to his .176 batting average this year. They won't mention his 60 strikeouts in 136 at bats. It's all because of this unnatural shift.

The truth is, Joey Gallo is not a good hitter. If the shift was hamstringing p[layers like Mike Trout and JD Martinez, than you may have a case. But you shouldn't be using a career .206 hitter as the poster boy for your argument on why it's bad for the game. Good hitters will hit no matter what the infield and outfield does. If you want to ban something, ban guys who can't hit against the shift.

Automated Strike Zone

In game 4 of the 2021 ALCS between the Red Sox and Astros, home plate umpire Laz Diaz missed 21 strike/ball calls. In fairness, 12 were against Boston and 11 were against Houston, so he had a consistent rate of error against both teams. Despite his consistency however, he was consistently wrong all night.

How does the MLB, and all the writers and fans following the game know how often an umpire is right or wrong? Baseball has an automated strike zone it uses to measure the accuracy of it's officials. Why not cut out the middle man, and just the let the automated zone dictate the call all game long?

According to a 2021 study, Major League Umpires are correct 94% of the time. That is very impressive for the human eye, but deplorable when com pared to a computers accuracy. The majority of these errors come with two strikes on the batter. No better time to mess up, am I right?

There is that faction of geezers who believe human error is part of the game. They feel that changing the term "getting it wrong" for "human error" somehow softens the blow of what they are rallying for. Can you imagine another sport taking the same approach? A basketball player swishes a three but the ref missed it so they don't give the points to the team. Hey, human error.

The truth is, the idea is to get every call right, every time. It's not possible, but that's why we have instant replay in sports. That's why we need the automated strike zone. They already use it at some lower levels. You shouldn't be advocating for things to stay the same just because you're old. When was the last time you rode horseback to get from point A to point B? As technology improves, embrace it, don't fight it. As far as these two rules, I'm sure Clemenza in The Godfather would say, "Leave the shift, take the strike zone."

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