July 11, 2018

Marvin Hudson Did A Bad Job Of Calling Pitches Last Night. We Need Robots.

Wednesday's Rangers/Red Sox game did not start off well for Chris Sale. That was because the amorphous strike zone in Marvin Hudson's head did not align very well with the one in MLB's Rule Book (i.e., that Hudson is expected to (and is paid to) enforce).

Sale had to throw six strikes (#1-5, 7) before Hudson demurred and finally rang up Delino DeShields in the top of the first inning. (Hudson called balls for #2 and #5. But if he had called #2 correctly, #4 would have been strike 3.)

Sale then likely struck out Elvis Andrus, but Hudson thought otherwise, and Andrus eventually doubled. (Hudson should have called strike 3 on #4.)

Hudson seemed to blow a call against the third hitter (#2), although Sale fanned Nomar Mazara with his next pitch.

When the Red Sox batted in the bottom of the first, he called a strike on J.D. Martinez that was obviously outside (#3). It should have resulted in a 3-0 count. Martinez ended up striking out with a man on second.

Mitch Moreland walked on four pitches in the third inning. Or did he? These blown calls by Hudson went in the Red Sox's favour but - call me crazy - I'd rather have every pitch be called what it actually is.

Hudson's strike zone was consistently inconsistent and he blew calls throughout the entire game. His judgment about where the outside corners of the zone were located changed batter-to-batter and inning-to-inning. A called strike in one spot would be ruled a ball a few batters later. Pitches called balls to a specific batter would turn into strikes the next time he came up.

In one at-bat (Joey Gallo in the top of the eighth), two consecutive pitches in the same spot resulted in a 1-1 count (#1 was a ball, #2 was a strike).

Craig Kimbrel walked the first batter he faced in the eighth, which forced in Texas's second run. But Hudson had clearly blown the call on the first pitch. Kimbrel did not throw four balls.

MLB needs to adopt a computerized strike zone - yesterday. If pitchers throw strikes, they should be called strikes. If a keen-eyed batter lays off a close pitch that is outside the zone, it should be called a ball.

But that is not what's happening, not often enough, anyway. There are numerous blown calls in every single game, every single day, and many of those blown calls come at crucial moments. Those incorrect calls could occur in the third inning or the ninth inning. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the outcome of dozens of games each year are being altered by wrong calls behind the plate. A computerized system has to be better than what fans are forced to endure right now.


Jim said...

Couldn't agree more. 3 easy fixes for MLB--robot balls and strikes, DH for both leagues and enforce the pitch clock. Oh yeah, and if you're going to have 4-day AS break in the middle of July and start the season the last week in March, schedule away games only for 15 "cold weather" (or no roof) teams for the first 3 series of the season. And no night games for those teams until 3rd week in April. I could go on but I can only waste so much time, unlike some reluctant hurlers.

FenFan said...

I don't have the data to back up this statement, but I would also argue that the games would go FASTER if pitches were called correctly. If Manfred and company want to speed up the game, then using Statcast to call balls and strikes would help.