I watched Game One of the World Series last night and was astonished at how piss-poor home plate umpire Larry Vanover was.
I thought, as did millions of other baseball fans, that Major League Baseball was making a more concerted effort to get its best umpires into the World Series while minimizing the appearances of its weakest umps.
One headline from the Chicago Tribune read: “Corey Kluber helps Indians to 6-0 victory over Cubs in World Series.” Kluber’s a great pitcher, but Vanover is the one who “helped” the Indians win. It was infuriating to watch this dolt call a handful of balls off the plate strikes and to a greater extent pitches right smack dab in the strike zone balls.
According to Baseball Prospectus, Vanover’s K/BB ratio is 2.25 compared to the MLB average of 2.58. His ERA is 3.93 while the average MLB rating is 4.18 and finally, his WHIP rating (walks plus hits per inning pitched) is 1.29 compared to the MLB average of 1.33.
Tonight's HP ump Larry Vanover has one of the smallest zones in MLB, and rated below average as far as his calls matching the typical zone.— Jon Roegele (@MLBPlayerAnalys) October 25, 2016
Cubs left-hander Jon Lester was noticeably upset about the disparity between calls made on his pitches and those of the Tribe's hurler. He had a chat with Vanover at the end of the third inning to express his ire. “I don’t know if he had a (microphone on),” Lester said. “It was just two professionals talking to each other about what was going on. I don’t comment on umpires. I’m a competitor. I think every ball I throw should be a strike. We talked it out; we hashed it out and moved on from there.”
Anyway, we’re done with Vanover. He will rotate to the field and will be the replay official for Games 3-7.
CNBC published an interesting piece noting the 2016 World Series could be one of the last World Series in which balls and strikes are called by a home plate umpire.
“Sportvision, a subsidiary of sports powerhouse SMT, has the technology to call every single ball and strike with near perfect accuracy, using its "Pitchf/x" product.”
“Pitchf/x is the rectangle you see on TV that shows the strike zone. It's the same technology that undermines umpires when they clearly miss a call. And it's the same technology that can reduce umpires from key decision-makers to caretakers at baseball games.”
I’m not going to overreact (not much anyway) to this setback. Kluber dominated the Cubs. It’s not the end of the world. Game Two starts tonight at 7:08 PM ET on FOX. The early start is due to a forecast of rain in Cleveland.
GO CUBS GO!