11/4/21 : Did Ya Know 🤷♂️
There were a few experiments in the minor leagues this past season from automated ball and strike calls to larger bases to defensive shift restrictions … I’m beginning a series of looking at some auxiliary data from the leagues where the reviews occurred to perhaps get an indication of impact 🤔.
We will start with the ABS system ( Automated Balls & Strikes ).
Low A SouthEast League - Automated Balls & Strikes
With the exception of games played at Daytona’s stadium the league introduced the use of automated ball and strike calls ( ABS ) for 4 of the weekly 6 scheduled games at each ballpark. The stadiums were outfitted with multiple cameras provisioning different angles of a pre-measured strike zone ( adjusted for each batter based on their listed height ). The data capture was gathered from each camera read and via the use of computerized algorithms determined whether pitches were within the strike zone. A signal was sent to the home plate umpire who wore a cell phone like device on his belt. Upon receipt of the signal he called the pitch.
Sometimes there were delays albeit seemingly slight between the pitch call and the ball popping into the catcher’s mitt. As the umpires became more accustomed to the process the delays were less noticeable. In the middle of the season the strike zone measurement was adjusted … made less rigid. Ongoing maintenance was needed to the equipment for the consistency of the camera reads as well as their alignment.
There was a 2.15 K/BB ratio rate in the league and 10.6 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 rates along with a 8 H/9 rate. The runs per game ( R/G ) rate was 5.01.
Here’s a past five year seasonal comparison - we will use both previous Low A level equivalent leagues ( South Atlantic & Midwest ).
South Atlantic League ( 2015 to 2019 )
2019 - 2.79 K/BB - 9.2 K/9 - 3.3 BB/9 - 8.1 H/9 - 4.28 R /G
2018 - 3.09 K/BB - 8.9 K/9 - 2.9 BB/9 - 8.5 H/9 - 4.26 R/G
2017 - 2.95 K/BB - 8.4 K/9 - 2.9 BB/9 - 8.6 H/9 - 4.26 R/G
2016 - 2.71 K/BB - 8.3 K/9 - 3.0 BB/9 - 8.5 H/9 - 4.2 R/G
2015 - 2.4 K/BB - 7.5 K/9 - 3.1 BB/9 - 8.8 H/9 - 4.39 R/G
Midwest League ( 2015 to 2019 )
2019 -2.44 K/BB - 9.0 K/9 -3.7 BB/9 - 8.1 H/9 - 4.28 R/G
2018 - 2.57 K/BB - 8.7 K/9 - 3.4 BB/9 - 8.6 H/9 - 4.30 R/G
2017 -2.53 K/BB - 8.5 K/9 - - 3.53 BB/9 -8.5 H/9 - 4.43 R/G
2016 - 2.67 K/BB - 8.3 K/9 -3.1 BB/9 - 8.5 H/9 - 4.05 R/G
2015 - 2.48 K/BB - 7.6 K/9 -3.1 BB/9 - 8.7 H/9 - 4.20 R/G
Lastly a comparison of 2021 Low A Southeast data to five year averages of combined low A play from 2015 to 2019 ….
Strikeouts/Walks ( K/BB ) :
2021 Low A Southeast - 2.15
Low A Avg ( 2015 to 2019 ) - 2.65
The number of strikeouts compared to walks decreased by 0.5.
Strikeouts per Nine Innings ( K/9 ) :
2021 Low A Southeast - 10.6
Low A Avg ( 2015 to 2019 ) - 8.4
The number of strikeouts per nine innings increased by 2.2
Walks per Nine Innings ( BB/9 ) :
2021 Low A Southeast - 4.9
Low A Avg ( 2015 to 2019 ) - 3.2
The number of walks per nine innings increased by 1.7
Hits per Nine Innings ( H/9 ) :
2021 Low A Southeast - 8
Low A Avg ( 2015 to 2019 ) - 8.5
The number of hits per nine innings decreased by 0.5
Runs per Game ( R/G) :
2021 Low A Southeast - 5.01
Low A Avg ( 2015 to 2019 ) - 4.26
The number of runs per game increased by .75
No conclusions drawn as it’s a one year sample size in a season coming off a full year of inactivity. We will circle back perhaps mid season 2022 to see how things align.
Next article we will take a look at auxiliary data as related to the adjusted pickoff rules utilized in Low A baseball in 2021.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️
Notice the device on umpires belt loop - it’s for the ABS signal