John Kruk Criticizes MLB Umpires

MLB Faces Scrutiny Over Questionable Umpire Decisions Again.

by Abdullah Magsi
John Kruk Criticizes MLB Umpires
© Elsa/Getty Image

In a scathing critique of Major League Baseball umpires, former professional baseball player and current analyst John Kruk expressed his dissatisfaction with what he perceives as subpar umpiring rather than skilled pitch framing by catchers.

His comments followed a controversial moment in a game where Wilson Contreras, catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, was involved in a contentious pitch call. Pitch framing, a skill where catchers subtly manipulate the reception of a pitch to influence umpire decisions on strikes, has been a significant aspect of baseball analytics for years.

However, Kruk argues that the true issue lies with the umpires' inability to make accurate calls, rather than catchers' adeptness at framing. This issue was highlighted during a recent game where the Milwaukee Brewers seemingly benefited from a dubious strike call against Phillies' Edmundo Sosa, which was framed by Contreras' brother, William.

During the broadcast, Phillies announcer Tom McCarthy called it a strike, but Kruk immediately contested the call, saying, "He took a ball that was called a strike. What the heck is going on?" He questioned the fundamental principles of pitch calling, emphasizing that a pitch should be judged as it crosses home plate, not where it lands in the catcher's glove.

Umpiring Quality Questioned

The incident further fueled ongoing debates about the quality of umpiring in the league. Kruk pointed out that the pitch, clearly a ball within the established strike zone parameters, was erroneously called a strike.

This mishap is not just about pitch framing but also highlights a broader issue of umpiring errors within MLB. Kruk's frustration also touched on the recent retirement of umpire Ángel Hernández, who had been a frequent target for criticism.

Echoing sentiments shared by Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen, Kruk lamented the overall decline in umpiring standards, stating, "There are a lot of not very good umpires. He was just one of them." As MLB continues to evolve with technology and analytics, the spotlight on umpiring accuracy intensifies, especially when controversial calls affect the outcomes of games.

Kruk's outspoken critique underscores a growing demand for consistency and reliability in umpiring, which remains a critical component of the sport's integrity.