Atlantic League to experiment with batters "stealing first base"

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Robots have arrived at home plate, and while they haven't come to Major League Baseball yet, they may very well be the future of baseball.

The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, an eight-team league with clubs on the East Coast and a singular Texas squad, introduced the concept during it's All-Star game on Wednesday. According to Yahoo Sports, the robotic umpire, called TrackMan, helped home-plate umpire Brian deBrauwere assess whether pitches were balls or strikes via an earpiece connected to an iPhone in his pocket.

"Technically, they're strikes, but umpires never called them", Atkins said.

Major League Baseball announced an additional set of rule changes that will find their way to the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball during the second half of the 2019 Atlantic League Championship Season, which begins on Friday, July 12. To some would-be revolutionaries, this is a positive development - the Boston University study balked at the notion that "umpires continue to call balls and strikes like they did 100 years ago when Babe Ruth reigned supreme and the Ford Model T ruled the roads". In a trade for the rule changes, the MLB agreed to scout more players from the Atlantic League and provide better scouting equipment, the Post said.

There is, however, a brief delay between when the pitch is caught and when the call is signaled.

"One of our focuses is not to replace the umpire", Sword said.

Every affiliated minor league ballpark and every major league park is outfitted with the same Trackman technology, though it's mainly used to calculate advanced metrics such as spin rate, exit velocity and launch angle.

MLB reportedly plans to test the Trackman software as part of a three-year partnership with the Atlantic League.

But players, managers and umpires in the Atlantic League have been quick to endorse the system in the name of consistency, even if the long-established boundaries of the strike zone change because of technology. But we feel it's incumbent upon us - people that play the game raised this as something that could make the game better.

Umpires will remain responsible for making other calls on the field, including foul tips, check swings and plays at the plate. We kind of feel it's incumbent on us to figure out whether we could make it work.

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