While it’s still up for debate whether human beings or robots are better at calling balls and strikes, there’s one thing a computer can definitely do better than a flesh-and-blood umpire: count to three.
In the fourth inning of Thursday’s game between the Guardians and Twins, Cleveland starter Tanner Bibee got Minnesota infielder Royce Lewis to foul off two of the first three pitches he threw him. Bibee’s fourth pitch was a fastball that appeared to miss low, but home plate umpire Ryan Additon called it a strike. Except, oddly, Additon didn’t punch out Lewis. He apparently forgot the count.
Calling (and Counting) Strikes is hard. 😐 pic.twitter.com/NAgrHnSaWQ— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 2, 2023
Bibee looked at Additon in complete shock. He threw his arms up and held up three fingers as if to say, “Wasn’t that strike three?” After conferring with the other umpires, Lewis was indeed called out on strikes.
Losing track of the count took attention away from the fact that that was a pretty questionable strike three call by Additon. The pitch was over the heart of the plate, but it sure looked like it missed low. It was a consequential call, too. The strikeout came with runners on the corners in a tie game and decreased Minnesota’s chances of winning by 8%. It’s water under the bridge, though. The Twins wound up winning, 8–7, on a walk-off sacrifice fly by Willi Castro.