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“Baseball is supposed to favor pitchers…stats won’t improve”

“Baseball is supposed to favor the pitcher…”

PitchClock and ABS (automated strike/ball judgment) are two of the biggest topics in the KBO’s 2024 season. While there are other changes, such as a two-pitch limit and a limit on defensive shifts, the prevailing view is that Pitchblock and ABS will completely change the fundamental landscape of modern baseball.

The KBO is the first league in the world to adopt pitch clock and ABS simultaneously. No one knows the road ahead. Industry members are also making predictions. No one knows the ending until the lid is lifted. However, the view that it will eventually favor the batter is convincing.

The system itself, which has gained traction in the major leagues, is intended to increase the excitement of baseball by creating more in-play situations. The argument against ABS is that there will be pitches that the pitcher thinks are clearly strikes that don’t count. (Of course, many argue that a pitcher is better off if a strike is called on a pitch that the batter can’t hit.)

We asked the NC Dinos players after the 2024 season opening ceremony at Changwon NC Park on Aug. 8. Closer Lee Yong-chan (35) said that hitters will definitely have an advantage. “Pitchers will have a hard time,” he said. I’ve never played baseball with robot umpires before. We’ll have to see in camp, but I think pitchers’ stats will suffer, and it will favor the batter. Not being able to throw more than two strikes (on a batter) is also a disadvantage for the pitcher.”

Yongchan is adamant that baseball will change. “Baseball is supposed to be a game that favors the pitcher, but it seems to be getting worse for pitchers,” he said. I asked him, “What would happen if a pitch that you thought was in the count was ruled a ball?” He said, “Pitchers will become more sensitive. You’re trying to get out of a situation with one strike, but you could go two, three, four more batters. It would definitely have a negative effect on the pitcher.”

Others have a different view. Catcher Park Se-hyuk, 34, is cautious. “I’m not sure how the strike zone is formed. I’m not sure how the machine will judge it, but you have to adapt to it.” However, he does agree that framing, which has been questioned in the ABS era, is “absolutely necessary”. It gives the pitcher confidence.

Specifically, Park explains, “There is a feeling when a pitcher throws. If the robot sees it and doesn’t catch the ball properly, the pitcher will think, ‘My ball is like that. The pitcher thinks, ‘Is my ball off balance? I need to make sure I’m holding the ball the same way.” It doesn’t matter if it’s just a strike or a ball, the pitcher needs to make a good catch to avoid being discouraged by the ABS.

Kim Hyung-jun (25) said, “The robot umpire will be fair. I think it will be okay once I get used to it, but I’m a little worried about the pitch clock. Pitchers have a natural tempo, but they need to get faster. There will be pressure to throw within that time. I think they’ll be fine, but the hitters need to minimize their routines. If there are too many, it will be difficult.”

Captain Son Ah-seop (36) said, “There will be an impact on hitters with long warm-ups. I don’t know because I don’t feel it physically, but there is a part of me that is psychologically uneasy if I reduce my movements. I’m a player with a lot of routines, but I think I’ll give it a try. I think pitchers will be affected. There will be difficulties, and there will be trial and error. It’s the same for all 10 teams, so the teams that adapt the fastest will be the least affected.”

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