Professional baseball has been testing out different technologies to make the game more exciting, fast-paced, and accurate. In recent years, minor league fans in particular have been introduced to things like the pitch clock, designated strike zones, and the both beloved and hated Automated Ball-Strike system, aka ABS.

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What Is The Automated Ball-Strike System?

Even though we’ve seen the MLB recently adopt some of the technology that was being experimented with in the minors (ex: pitch clocks), they’re still testing out the Automated Ball-Strike system, aka ABS, in AAA  before it’s brought up to the big leagues. 

If you’ve been to a Buffalo Bisons game within the last two seasons, you’ve likely noticed the new addition of the ABS system. Previously, any Bisons game that was played on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday used a computer tracking system to determine if a pitch was a ball or a strike, thus taking away an umpire's need to use their own judgment.

ON the flip side, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were  “challenge system games.” Instead of relying on the ABS system, the home plate umpire was in charge of calling balls and strikes. Then, if a player or coach disagreed with the umpire’s call, they could appeal it by throwing a “challenge,” with the final call being determined by the automated system. 

Only three challenges were allowed per team per game, but if the umpire’s original call is overturned by ABS, the challenging team would get to keep their challenge opportunity (otherwise they’d lose it, and the umpire’s call stands). 

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Some fans are all for the  new technology, say it improves accuracy and deters poor umpiring. But ABS also has lots of opposition, arguing that it takes away the integrity and credibility of umpires.

The system sounds confusing if you’re not familiar with how it works, but don’t worry. AAA Baseball revealed they’re tweaking the rules for the second half of the season, and it’s going to get easier to understand. 

New AAA Baseball Rules Now Happening In Buffalo

Starting now, things are changing with the ABS Challenge system.

Now, every single game, whether it’s a Tuesday or a Sunday, will have balls and strikes called by the home plate (human) umpire. Teams can still challenge calls, but they’ll only have two to use instead of the former three. 

It’ll be really interesting to watch and see how the rest of the Buffalo Bisons’ season works with the shakeup. And frankly, it’ll be really interesting to see if and when this system finally makes its way into Major League Baseball.

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