Max Scherzer Offered a Simple Solution to MLB's Umpire Problem

Max Scherzer wants to rank umpires.
Feb 20, 2024; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) poses for a photo
Feb 20, 2024; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) poses for a photo / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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Max Scherzer made a rehab start for the Round Rock Express on Wednesday night. Scherzer, who turns 40 this summer, threw two and one-third innings in his first appearance on the mound since offseason back surgery. While pitching against the Salt Lake Bees he got his first real taste of the automated strike zone used in Triple A. Between that and having some extra time to think about it, he's come up with a reasonable solution for Major League Baseball's umpire problem: relegation.

Scherzer explained his plan during his postgame press conference, suggesting MLB should use the electronic strike zone to rank the umpires. The worst get sent down to the minors. The best get to stay in the big leagues and continue to provide the incredibly important human element that makes the game so special. Via Rangers Today:

“For me going forward, how I’ve conceptualized what the electronic strike zone should be used is we need to rank the umpires. Let the electronic strike zone rank the umpires, and then we need to have a conversation about the bottom 10 percent or whatever you want to declare what the bottom is and talk about relegating those umpires to the minor leagues and getting the best umpires in the game."

“That way that the umpires are going up against themselves. There’s still a human element of how you rank umpires. It’s amongst themselves. Policing the bottom is the way to go.

“When I’m out there pitching, if you told me I have the 10th best umpire or the 75th best umpire, you don’t really notice much between them because they’re really good at their jobs. The umpires are actually really good. It’s really the bottom umpires we all have a problem with. If there was a mechanism to make the umpires on the bottom better, I think that would be a better to address this.”

That's actually a pretty good idea. They could call it the Scherzer Suggested System or SSS, which might make some people think of a small sample size, but it would actually use a large amount of accurate data to determine who gets to work the biggest games and who gets demoted.

If nothing else, it would bring some accountability to the game.

Stephen Douglas


Stephen Douglas is a Senior Writer on the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. He has been in journalism and media since 2008, and now casts a wide net with coverage across all sports. Stephen spent more than a decade with The Big Lead and has previously written for Uproxx and The Sporting News. He has three children, two degrees and one now unverified Twitter account.