Monday, August 24, 2020

Jose's Navas of Steel - The HBP Strikeout

In this Gil's Call, we talk about guts and gumption: having the courage to make a tough call. For first-year MLB umpire Jose Navas, that opportunity presented itself during Sunday's Reds-Cardinals game, when Cincinnati's Jesse Winker leaned into an Andrew Miller slider for a hit-by-pitch, as Navas overruled the HBP's standard base award and declared Winker out on strikes.

The Play: With none out and none on in the top of the 8th inning, lead-off batter Winker worked his way to a 3-2 count. As pitcher Miller delivered his payoff pitch, Winker was struck in the right elbow (pad) by the pitched ball, drawing a standard "Time" call from HP Umpire Navas.

But instead of awarding Winker first base as a hit batsman, Navas enforced Official Baseball Rule 5.05(b)(2), ruling that the pitch was located in the strike zone: Dead ball, strike three, batter's out.

Navas explains his call to Winker.
FWIW: This pitch's px value was 0.84 with a pz of 2.60. RoboUmp starts balling px values greater than 0.83, so while RoboUmp would have balled this pitch by a margin of about 0.1 inches, the call becomes borderline under UEFL f/x and Zone Evaluation rules.

Furthermore, if an off-speed or slider type pitch has cutting action that may have allowed the ball to catch the back corner of home plate (and with a margin of 0.1 inches, that's a distinct possibility), the batter's act of making contact with the ball deprives the umpire with the opportunity to fully adjudicate pitch location, in which case an umpire might choose to err on the side of awarding the pitcher (for hitting the batter? Only if the batter, through his/her actions, deprived the pitcher of securing a called strike the 'old fashioned' way).

If the pitch is located as a strike, it's a strike.
The Rule: OBR 5.05(b)(2) awards the batter first base without liability to be put out when—"He is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit unless (A) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (B) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball; If the ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a strike, whether or not the batter tries to avoid the ball. If the ball is outside the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a ball if he makes no attempt to avoid being touched."

Note, however, that (per 5.05(b)(2) Comment): "A batter shall not be considered touched by a pitched ball if the ball only touches any jewelry being worn by a player (e.g., necklaces, bracelets, etc.)" (this is similar to the laces-of-the-glove rule in that superfluous dangles don't count as part of a person, whereas uniform items e.g., baggy shirts or equipment such as elbow padding/braces do).

FoxTrax indicates the ball touched the zone.
As a matter of technicality, whether Navas ruled that Winker failed to attempt to avoid being touched by the pitched ball is rather irrelevant—because he ruled the baseball was located in the strike zone, it's a strike no matter what Winker tried or didn't try to do. In other words, he invoked OBR 5.05(b)(2)(A), not OBR 5.05(b)(2)(B).

Conclusion: This is an incredibly gutsy call to make—and the correct call—especially relative to 5.05(b)(2)(A)'s auto-strike as opposed to 5.05(b)(2)(B)'s auto-ball. For a triple-digit umpire with single-digit major league experience to make this call should rightly earn praise and high marks on an evaluation.

And the post-call explanations and situation-handling by both Navas and Crew Chief CB Bucknor with both Winker and Manager David Bell were phenomenal.

As I've long said, do what's right, which may not always (and often isn't) congruent with what is easy or popular.

Rules Myth: Recall, whether or not a batter "leans into" the pitch is of zero consequence. The rule simply specifies that if a batter "makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball" (for a pitch located outside of the strike zone), which is a significantly lower bar than simply "leaning into" the pitch or not, the proper call is a dead ball, and strike or ball depending on the pitch's location.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Navas' Gutsy Call of a HBP Strikeout Against Winker (CCS)


Post a Comment