Josh Donaldson Continues to Call Out Umpires, Is He Right?
Image courtesy of © Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY SportsFormer Twins player Trevor Plouffe started the conversation on Twitter when he brought up the fact that umpires “aren’t held accountable” and thy have “as much job protection as a Supreme Court justice.” Josh Donaldson responded by saying, “It’s embarrassing. It’s tough to watch any game.” He went on to say, “This isn’t high school where you can say that’s too close to take. As a MLB hitter our job is to take close pitches that are out of zone.”
Plouffe went on to talk about the difference between a hitter’s count or a pitcher’s count and Brandon Warne brought up some interesting numbers.
First, let’s examine Donaldson and his 2020 season. Not all the pitches he took went against him. In fact, he took 10 pitches in the zone that were called balls, which is very similar to his numbers stretching back to 2017. His biggest discrepancy was on pitches outside the zone that were called for strikes. From 2017-2019, Donaldson saw 2.7% of those pitches called for strikes. In 2020, that percentage jumped all the way to 3.8%, the highest mark of his career.
Complaining about umpires has been part of the fabric of baseball. One of the biggest changes is the fact that technology has allowed fans from home to see pitches and plays multiple times in slow motion where an umpire must make a call in real-time. Baseball broadcasts also put up a strike zone box, which makes it easy for fans to see if an umpire made the correct call. So, how have umpires fared when calling balls and strikes in recent years?
During the 2019 season, MLB umpires made 33,277 incorrect calls which means there were 13.8/game and 1.5/inning. Looking back to 2018, MLB umpires made 34,294 incorrect calls for an average of 14/game and 1.6/inning. While those numbers may seem high, a 2019 Boston University study showed that bad calls have been declining every year since 2008.
The 2020 season was unique in many ways with most teams playing 60 games and other rule changes for extra-innings and double-headers impacting how long games lasted. This meant umpires had fewer opportunities to make mistakes and the data backs that up. In 2020, MLB umpires made 11,920 incorrect calls for an average of 13.3/game, but with fewer innings the bad calls per inning was up to 1.54/inning.
Do you agree with Donaldson? Do you feel umpires have gotten worse at calling balls and strikes? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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