Angel Hernandez Is the Reason MLB Needs a Ball-Strike Challenge System

A ball-strike challenge system is the only way to rein umpires in.
Sep 2, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; MLB third base umpire Angel Hernandez (5) during the game
Sep 2, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; MLB third base umpire Angel Hernandez (5) during the game / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Ángel Hernández made headlines over the weekend for a horrid performance behind the plate and fans are ridiculing him for it. At one point during Friday's matchup between the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros, he called three consecutive pitches strikes that were extremely far outside. Performances like that are the reason Major League Baseball needs to adopt the ball-strike challenge system currently being used in the minor leagues.

Jeff Passan was a guest on Monday's episode of the Rich Eisen Show and discussed Hernández and the challenge system. The segment is posted below and Passan's comments are insightful.

Passan is correct, implementing that system is the only way to rein in guys like Hernández who miss so badly behind the plate. He is consistently rated as one of MLB's worst umpires for a reason. The challenge system is easy, fast and would correct egregious mistakes like those Hernández made in rapid succession last Friday.

The current system being tested in the minor leagues allows players on both teams to challenge pitch calls they believe the umpire missed. When a challenge is made, the Hawk-Eye pitch tracking system makes the final call. The pitch is then shown on the scoreboard so fans can see its actual location. It is similar to the system tennis uses for challenges.

As of now, teams get three unsuccessful challenges per game. It seems to be working well at the lower levels of baseball and could work in the big leagues.

Umpires are human, they are going to miss, but there is no excuse for a big league ump being that bad at his job. While Hernández is arguably the worst of the bunch, we've seen terrible calls consistently across the league so far in 2024. Eventually this will reach a tipping point where MLB has to act and add a challenge system.

There are few, if any, checks on major league umpires. If the league doesn't do something to deter guys like Hernández from making bad calls, this will only continue to get worse.


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Ryan Phillips

RYAN PHILLIPS

Ryan Phillips is a Senior Writer on the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. Ryan has worked in digital media since 2009, spending eight years at The Big Lead before joining the SI team in 2024. He also co-hosts The Assembly Call Podcast about Indiana Hoosiers basketball and previously worked at Bleacher Report. Ryan is a proud San Diego native and a graduate of Indiana University’s journalism school.