Alek Manoah has an ingenious idea for more consistent strike-zone calls

·3 min read
Alek Manoah has definitely put some thought into the strike-zone problem. (Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Alek Manoah has definitely put some thought into the strike-zone problem. (Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Toronto Blue Jays young starter Alek Manoah isn’t just capable of getting guys out, but he’s apparently a part-time inventor as well.

As MLB and baseball around the globe suffer from the timely tragedy of umpires making egregious strike-zone calls, the 23-year-old rookie has a solution — and it involves fashionable eyewear.

“I haven’t thought about everything with this idea, but for me, it’s a great idea,” Manoah said in a video interview. “So, you know how when you’re driving, you can nowadays see the speedometer floating in the air on your dashboard. If you have an older car, you don’t know what that’s like… But most of those newer models, it throws that display on the dashboard.

“So what I’m thinking is, there has to be something that reflects, for that to happen on that display. So what if we put a shield on every umpire’s mask that can reflect, as they’re looking over the plate, that little box that we all see at home? And hey, it’s not a robot, because there’s going to be movement. But it’s an idea, a general idea of where the strike zone is. And if you miss, whatever, you’re human, you’re not a robot, but we know that you have the best general idea. And if you want to screw a player, we’re going to know that you’re screwing him on purpose!”

That’s right. Manoah suggests that every home-plate umpire in MLB sports a reflective shield that projects a rough outline of where the strike zone is during game action. It’s either brilliant or something that is created in the mind of someone at the bar during closing time.

The issue of strike calls being incorrect has spawned debate for decades now, with some suggesting imlementing some sort of technology, but this might be just the middle line between the two sides. While there is no formal decision either way this season, the issue did inspire a Twitter account called Umpire Scorecards that tweets out images that perfectly encapsulate a performance behind the plate for every game, deciding how many runs were given to either team based on the calls. At least there’s now data to back up some arguments.

One thing is for certain though: Manoah is shining bright during his rookie season, whether or not umpires are giving him some extra outs. Through 93 innings pitched in 17 starts, the young behemoth has a 3.39 ERA and is striking out over one batter per inning (9.9 K/9). Earning him 2.2 wins above replacement according to Baseball Reference.

Manoah is certainly a contributor for a Blue Jays team that wants to surge into the postseason and is currently holding the second Wild Card spot, half a game over the New York Yankees, before Sunday’s series finale against the Minnesota Twins.

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