- David Schoenfield, SweetSpot blogger
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On Friday, Joe Torre of the commissioner's office reprimanded David Ortiz for his rant over a scoring decision on Wednesday.
Here's a report from ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes from that game, when a grounder that bounced off the glove of Twins first baseman Joe Mauer was ruled an error. Ortiz hit the ball pretty hard and Red Sox announcer Jerry Remy thought it should have been ruled a hit. I see it as a play a major league first baseman should make.
Ortiz ranted: "I thought people were supposed to have your back at home, and it never happens. It's always like that. I've been here for more than a decade and the scorekeepers here are always horrible. This is home, man.
"I always look like the bad guy, but they always end up changing it."
Torre's reprimand wasn't anything other than an official statement. He's probably pretty tired of ruling on appeals involving Ortiz. Torre's statement read:
"Official scorers have a job to do, and by their very nature, their decisions don’t make everyone happy. But everyone in our game deserves respect. I hope that David will meet that standard going forward, because I don’t share the same views that he expressed.
"Official scorers should never give any benefit of the doubt to the home team. We want their best judgment, based on the rules. We have a process to review the decisions that our scorers make. Even when there are inevitable disagreements, we expect everybody to act professionally and respect the game and the integrity of our scorers."
First, there's one solution to part of Ortiz's complaint: Let the official scoring be handled by the league office, by official scorers sitting in New York and watching on monitors. I'm not sure if being at the game actually creates any advantage. If anything, the official scorer probably feels pressure to rule in favor of the home player on borderline decisions. (We could also eliminate the error altogether, but that's another discussion.)
Aside from that, does Ortiz have a legitimate argument? It's hard to find one. Since joining the Red Sox in 2003 he has reached base on an error 34 times -- 15 times at Fenway, 19 times on the road. If he had been getting shafted by the home scorers he likely would have reached base on errors more often at Fenway.
I also thought I'd look at some other batters to see how often they reached on an error. Since fast runners reach base more often on errors, I checked some other slow runners who hit left-handed and their totals over the past 10 years:
Adam Dunn: 23
Raul Ibanez: 53
Brian McCann: 34
Adam LaRoche: 34
A.J. Pierzynski: 32
Prince Fielder: 41
Ryan Howard: 37
Adrian Gonzalez: 39
Justin Morneau: 41
Joe Mauer: 44
Anyway, you get the idea. Obviously these numbers are affected by ground-ball rate and balls in play and strikeouts, but only Dunn -- who whiffs in a large percentage of his at-bats and rarely hits the ball on the ground -- has reached on errors fewer times than Ortiz.
Ortiz said he always looks like the bad guy. Well, he does look bad with good reason. It certainly doesn't appear as if he has been unfairly hurt by scoring decisions.