Enforcing the rules “ruined” baseball? Huh. How about that.

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There’s an article over at The Atlantic that makes a good observation: since the introduction of Pitch f/x and its attendant camera-aided Zone Evaluation (ZE) system which tracks missed calls after each game and judges umpires by their accuracy, strikeouts have gone way up and offense has gone down. Why?

Before cameras, it turned out, umpires had been ignoring strikes around the knees. Pitches between 18 and 30 inches above the plate, which are technically in the strike zone, had been called balls for years. But the presence of cameras encouraged umpires to lower the strike zone . . . a lower strike zone invited more low pitches, more low strikes, and more strike outs. These variables on their own explain a good chunk of baseball’s offensive drought.

 

The conclusion, in the form of the article’s headline:

source:

That’s funny. Because the way I read it, what allegedly “ruined” baseball here is a more accurate enforcement of its strike zone as defined.

Which really means that nothing has been “ruined” at all. Because baseball can, if it wants to, change the strike zone. It has many, many times in its history and, if it deems that offense has been reduced to unacceptable extremes, it can simply raise or shrink the zone.  But I guess a story entitled “The simple technology that improved umpiring but which led to an unintended consequence which can easily be remedied” doesn’t really grab the reader.

Personally, I want umpires to call an accurate zone. Whether that results in offense going up or down I don’t care, because that can be dealt with in many ways. But having umpires call balls balls and strikes strikes is pretty damn important. As far as that goes, Pitch f/x and Zone Evaluation have helped baseball, not ruined it.

 

Athletics acquire Jeurys Familia from Mets

Jeurys Familia
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The Athletics have acquired closer Jeurys Familia from the Mets, per official announcements from the teams. The Mets will receive minor league right-hander Bobby Wahl and third base prospect William Toffey in the deal, as well as $1 million in international slot money.

Familia, 28, has drawn significant interest from as many as seven or eight teams over the last week or so. While the right-hander hasn’t hit any career-best marks this season, he’s more than held his own with a 2.88 ERA, 2.54 FIP and 1.2 fWAR over 40 2/3 innings in 2018. He’s positioned to enter free agency at the end of the year, and the A’s are expected to absorb the remaining $3 million on his contract before he does so.

The Mets, meanwhile, came away with two lower-level players in the trade. The 26-year-old Wahl has just 7 2/3 innings of major league experience under his belt and issued four runs, four walks, and eight strikeouts during his first seven games with the A’s in 2017. He’s been far more productive in Triple-A Nashville this year, racking up 11 saves in 27 chances and pairing that with a ridiculous 2.27 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 14.7 SO/9 through 39 2/3 innings.

MLB Pipeline ranked Toffey no. 17 in the A’s system prior to the start of the 2018 season, noting his above-average defense but casting some doubt on his ability to hit for both average and power in the majors. The 23-year-old corner infielder is still getting his sea legs in High-A Stockton, where he’s batting .244/.357/.384 with five home runs and a .741 OPS in 197 PA.