Great piece for discussion from the world’s best working sportswriter, Joe Posnanski. After watching Joakim Soria get the benefit of marginal strike calls against the Yankees, Joe Poz wondered who, in baseball history, would suffer the most at the hands of robot umpires.
When Poz put it out on Twitter I immediately chimed in “Greg Maddux.” I was, according to Posnanski’s straw poll, not alone. Nearly 98% of his Brilliant Readers offered either Maddux of Tom Glavine, they of the famous change-ups that magically faded back onto the outside corner. Without overpowering stuff, they seemed at the mercy of umpires caught up in their mystique.
Posnanski rightly points out: isn’t that a two-way street?
What about Barry Bonds and other veterans given leeway after a cold stare? Barry Bonds’ numbers are so mind-blowing and his patience legendary, but would he have hit anywhere near as many home runs if he wasn’t constantly 2-0 and 2-1? Thome, Manny, Bagwell, are names Posnanski tosses out who rode great patience to great success.
Another angle – how many young players couldn’t get their careers on track because they hadn’t yet earned the right to take a close pitch? Kevin Maas, it could have been you!
Definitely a good read and a fun discussion to have – who benefits more from marginal calls: pitchers or hitters?
More importantly: this.