For whatever reason, 2021 has been quite a year for Major League referees. From terrible strike zones to the mere guessing of catches in the outfield, this year’s officiating has often been less than stellar. Sadly, terrible umpires occur in the minor leagues as well, to the detriment of Royals’ top prospect Bobby Witt, Jr.
The scene: In Tuesday night’s game, Witt undoubtedly hit a home run at 430 feet to left field. It was his second home run and it would be one of three hits of the day. But although he clearly hit home plate, Witt was called out by the referee. Here is the video:
Bobby Witt Jr. crushes a 430 foot left field but the plate umpire says he didn’t touch home plate after circling the goals …
So that comes down to a very, very long triple. pic.twitter.com/mrYKnRSnGh
– NW Arkansas Naturals (@nwanaturals) June 9, 2021
Witt shuffles at the end, but he looks down and makes sure he hits the marble. Witt knows what happens when you don’t hit home plate, it’s a withdrawal. In fact, the same thing happened earlier today in Pittsburgh. Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a home run but didn’t step on first base, and since you are only awarded a base if you step on it, continuing around counts as an out.
The umps made the right call to Hayes, but as you can see in Witt’s video, they didn’t do it with Witt. It’s as clear as it gets with the Double-A cameras from this angle that it’s hitting home plate. Although grainy, this screenshot is about as clear as it gets: Witt absolutely hit the plate.
Zoom in and look at the white around his shoe. Not only does Witt look like he stepped on the plate, he stepped right in the middle. Now, is it possible that the ump made the right choice? Perhaps, be charitable. But again, Witt was looking down as he walked through it. If he had missed the plate, he would have gone back and tagged it. I will trust the player in this scenario. This is not Witt’s first career home run.
The good thing for the Royals is that hitting home plate is independent of how much skill it took to crush the home run in the first place, which really matters. Human referees: I must love them, because there is no alternative at the moment.