While I don’t like to buy into anecdotal anger – fans have a tendency to overstate things – I do want to point out a particular plate appearance yesterday that was emblematic of what folks have dubbed the “Soler Strike Zone”:
What you see there is Jorge Soler’s second at bat yesterday against A.J. Burnett. What you don’t see there are any pitches in the strike zone. Unfortunately for Soler, three of those four pitches were called strikes, and Soler was credited with a strikeout that he very much did not deserve.
Was this just a one-time event? Well, if you ask anyone who’s been watching the games, they’ll tell you that the strike zone sure seems to get just a touch bigger when the Cubs’ hulking Cuban outfielder steps to the plate. Maybe this one was just a fluke. (And the other ones were just flukes, too.) Or maybe it’s something about his stance. His setup. His movement toward the plate as the pitch is coming in. Whatever the cause, it’s strange. And noticeable.
Umpires are human, of course. That’s a big part of, you know, the “human element” of the game, and I don’t expect perfection. But if we’re going to take a batter to task for a particularly poor plate appearance, then the humans behind the plate deserve the same kind of scrutiny. I am deliberately choosing not to name this particular umpire, because this is an issue broader than any one game. It’s just that this particular plate appearance was especially absurd, and indicative of what seems to have been happening regularly to Soler.
In this plate appearance, Jorge Soler did a very good job. Since they got the strikeout, I guess I’d say that Burnett and catcher Francisco Cervelli did a good job, too.
Hopefully Soler knows that he shouldn’t have to completely change his (accurate) conception of the strike zone because he’s not getting those calls.
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