Last night in the 9th inning the Cincinnati Reds were trailing 5-2 and Joey Votto came to the plate with a runner on and he absolutely unloaded on the ball, hitting a tower fly ball into the second deck at Dodger Stadium down the right field line. Votto thought it was a home run, but the umpires disagreed. The Reds challenged the call and after some review in New York, the call stayed as a foul ball. On video it’s truly tough to tell. The ball was so high that it was way above the foul pole and you couldn’t use it as a guide to see if the ball wrapped around it or not.
Twenty years ago that was the best thing we could do – use the video. But it’s not 2002 anymore. Today there are cameras around the ballpark that track everything that happens on the field. Hawkeye is what is used to give us all of that fancy Statcast data. It tracks pitches, spins rates, pitch velocity, hit exit velocity, the speed of the players running, the speed to the fielders, the movement of the fielders, and very important to this discussion – the flight of the baseball.
Major League Baseball doesn’t allow the use of the technology to make calls in the game. They’re trying to get there with allowing the Hawkeye system call the strikezone, and they are doing it in some leagues in the minors. But it’s not there for the big leagues yet. Still, the public gets some access to the data, while some of it is closed off. I was able to get the data on the Joey Votto “foul ball” from last night, and Hawkeye shows that it was a fair ball and that it should have been a home run.
Sooooooo Hawkeye says that was a home run by Joey Votto….. pic.twitter.com/qAe1hU6kBk
— Doug Gray (@dougdirt24) April 17, 2022
That would have made it a 5-4 ballgame in the top of the 9th inning. Instead it was ruled foul, the score remained 5-2, and Votto would eventually strike out. Tyler Stephenson followed up with a ground out to end the game. We’ll never know how things would have changed had the umpires gotten the call correct on the field or on review, but Cincinnati would have had another out to work with and only would have needed one run to extend the game instead of three. Maybe the result winds up the same – a 4th straight loss for the Reds. But when a team is struggling like the Reds are, it doesn’t help when an enormous play is erased when it shouldn’t have been.