Making MLB picks today could be much safer than in previous years as you don’t have to account for teams cheating and stealing signs. MLB teams have gotten extremely good at sign stealing, and it has prompted league officials to look for a way to protect pitchers.
There were a number of suggestions offered up over the last few years, but the league has settled on a system, and that system is already in place. PitchCom was approved just before the start of the regular season and it has already been used by some teams in the league.
PitchCom is a new form of technology that allows catchers to electronically submit signs to pitchers. Catchers are wearing a sleeve on their arm, and pitchers have a receiver in their caps that announce the pitches.
There are nine different buttons on the sleeve for the catchers and they can not only choose the pitch, but they can also choose the location. Pitchers can then hear the sign that has been called, and middle infielders can also choose to have a receiver in their cap.
This PitchCom technology was rushed to be approved by the MLBPA and also the league, but it was tested last year at the Single A level. Teams began testing this out in Spring Training and it went over well enough that it was immediately put in place.
Not only will this cut down on the sign stealing, but it should also speed up the pace of play that is hurting baseball. Baseball games have continued to get longer, and it is keeping a younger generation from enjoying the game.
For teams that are still worried about these signs being stolen, they also have the option of changing up the names of pitches to add another layer in the code. ProMystic is the company that produces this PitchCom technology and it first started working with MLB back in 2020.
Technology is not new when it comes to baseball, but most of the technology is used by managers and team executives. Other sports have started to use technology even more, and baseball is finally starting to jump on board.
Still Some Opposition
Even though PitchCom was approved by MLB and MLBPA, it is still optional for teams or pitchers that are uncomfortable with it. The New York Yankees are one team that has been burned by sign stealing in the past, and they have jumped on board.
The Kansas City Royals are one team that hasn’t fully embraced the new technology, and their manager is a former catcher. Mike Matheny believes that PitchCOm takes away an important aspect of the game, but his opinions could change as time moves on.
There are likely going to be some flaws in the system as well, and some hiccups have already occurred. Some pitchers have had trouble hearing the signs through their receivers, and that has prompted catchers to go back to the traditional way of giving signs.
Robot Umps Could Be Next
PitchCom might be the newest form of technology used in Major League Baseball, but it’s certainly not going to be the last. Robot umpires could be at the Major League level as early as next year, and that system is currently being tested out at the Triple A level.
Teams, owners, and fans have been calling for robot umps for year, but this is a bit harder to implement. The reason that some feel the need for robot umps is that each umpire has their own interpretation of the strike zone.
Robot umpires would only be used for calling balls and strikes, and there are still some questions as to how this would work at a Major League ballpark. League umpires have already signed off on this idea, and they have agreed to work with MLB on implementing it.
This is another program that has been rushed by MLB officials, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to lose a year of testing. Teams and officials at the minor league level will continue to provide feedback on the robot umps, and will likely determine if this is used in the Major Leagues next season.