Is MLB Boosting Batting Average by Scoring Errors as Hits?

It certainly looks like it

Red Sox Pablo Reyes slides into second base after a throwing error.
Through 3,418 games, there have been 1,735 errors in MLB
Brian Fluharty/Getty

Through 113 games, the Boston Red Sox (58-55) have committed a league-leading 79 errors for an average of 0.70 per game, according to the official scorers who have scored their games. Third baseman Rafael Devers leads the ballclub with 14 errors, but, as anyone who has watched the team with any frequency can tell you, the 26-year-old slugger deserves many more. (Enrique Hernandez leads MLB with 17 errors and would be ahead of Devers in the top spot on the Red Sox, but he was traded to the Dodgers before last week’s deadline.)

The inaccurate scoring of Devers’s fielding has not gone unnoticed on Twitter.

Reddit has also realized Devers deserves more than 14 errors for the way he has fielded his position this season. “The current official scorer has to have that objectivity questioned,” according to a thread in the site’s Red Sox community. “On at least a dozen scoring plays, I’ve heard the NESN analyst (whether it was Youk, Wake, Miller, etc.) give a ‘really?’ to a scoring decision. Devers has been saved from at least five or six errors by the official scorer. As bad as the Sox are defensively, the official scorer is saving them from much embarrassment.”

The official scorer, usually an ex-player media member or someone else who has watched a lot of baseball, may have been asked to go easy on the errors in Boston, and that request may have been made in the 29 other cities that are home to a big-league team in order for MLB to prove that its rule changes are having positive effects on the game. “For the first time since 2019, the sport’s collective batting average has risen year over year, improving from .243 last season to .248 heading into Wednesday’s games,” according to The Athletic. “The number of errors has fallen to the lowest tally per game in recorded history, 0.51, part of a gradual decline dating back to the 1970s. The league-wide fielding percentage, .986, is also an all-time high.”

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If you want to believe the conspiracy theory, MLB is asking scorers to rule errors as hits so the league’s offensive numbers and defensive numbers look better, making the introduction of a pitch clock, restrictions on infield shifting and larger bases look like a great idea. Chris Marinak, MLB’s chief operations and strategy officer, directly disputed that theory to The Athletic. “I can tell you very clearly there has been no directive from MLB to score more hits versus errors this year, as it relates to the new rules or anything else, frankly,” he said. “It’s not different because of some directive or aspiration from Major League Baseball. It’s just different because the game is being played a little bit differently.”

Or scored differently.

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