MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred says there is 'growing consensus' for automated strike zone

The debate about automated balls and strikes continues to be a hot one, and it seems it’s coming to the majors sooner rather than later.

The thought was unimaginable even within the last decade, but as technology has improved, interest has increased.

Automated strike zones were a hot topic on an episode of the now-defunct “Real Sports” on HBO in 2017, but Major League Baseball finally acted in 2019.


The automated balls and strikes (ABS) system started on an experimental basis and, beginning last year, has been used at all Triple-A ballparks.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has hinted the change is coming to the big leagues, but he made some telling comments Thursday.

“There’s a growing consensus, in large part based on what we’re hearing from players that the challenge form should be the form of ABS, if and when we bring it to the big leagues, at least as a starting point,” Manfred said, via The Athletic.

Officials in all sports have come under more scrutiny as replays have become more prevalent.


Manfred has been at the forefront of major changes to baseball, most notably those he made ahead of the 2023 season to quicken the pace of play by adding a pitch timer, larger bases and pick-off limitations.

And they have worked.

According to Baseball Reference, the average nine-inning game last year took two hours and 39 minutes to complete, more than 31 minutes faster than the record 3:10 in 2021. It was the first time the average nine-inning game took less than three hours to complete since 2015, and the 2:39 duration was the fastest since 1985, when the average nine-inning contest took the same amount of time. This year, games last two hours and 35 minutes on average. 

Only 0.4% of games took over 3½ hours, as opposed to 18.7% in 2021. And 30.5% of games in 2023 took less than 2½ hours versus 2.5% three years ago.

The rule changes also led to an increase in attendance despite cries from fans that the game was changing too much. MLB drew 70.7 million fans to its stadiums in 2023, the most since 2017.

Manfred said he will retire from his role after his contract expires in 2029.

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