Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera walks back to the dugout after being called out on strikes to give the San Francisco Giants the World Series during Game 4 of the MLB World Series baseball championship in Detroit

Miguel Cabrera, Tigers still wondering what hit them

33 Comments

Triple Crown winner and likely American League MVP Miguel Cabrera took an 89-mph fastball from Sergio Romo right down the pipe to end the World Series on Sunday night.

An 89-mph fastball.

With Quintin Berry looking nothing like a major league No. 2 hitter ahead of him and Prince Fielder flailing away behind, Cabrera certainly didn’t get much help. And he actually hit a two-run homer tonight, though it would have been nothing more than a lazy fly to right if the gusting wind hadn’t picked it up and deposited it over the wall.

That was the only time in the game Cabrera managed to put a ball into fair territory. He struck out three times and walked once to finish the series at .231. Fielder went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts behind him to end up at .071. Jhonny Peralta came in at .067. Tigers catchers combined to go 1-for-14. The three corner outfielders not named Delmon Young were 1-for-22.

Young, who also had a wind-aided homer tonight, was the best of the Tigers, going 5-for-14. Austin Jackson also did nice work, reaching base safely seven times. Omar Infante was 5-for-15 before breaking his hand when he was hit by a pitch tonight.

That’s it for success stories, though. The Tigers scored six runs in four games against the Giants. They topped that total 34 times in 162 regular-season games. The two shutouts in the series matched their total for the entire regular season.

Cabrera looking completely overmatched against Jeremy Affeldt and Romo in his final two at-bats will be the lasting images from tonight’s Game 4. Which is hardly fair, considering that the superstar behind him looked like that for four games straight. Cabrera and Fielder still need to be considered the game’s best 3-4 combination, but they were completely outshined by Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey the last five days.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
15 Comments

Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
25 Comments

ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: