Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier’s defense has such a strong reputation that when he misplayed this fly ball in the first inning of Tampa Bay’s game Tuesday against the White Sox, umpires decided the ball must have struck one of Tropicana Field’s rings—and awarded batter Yolmer Sanchez a home run.
That held up even after video review, which clearly shows the ball came nowhere near either the stadium’s C ring, which hovers over center field 99 feet above the turf, or the D ring—which is 59 feet directly over the 400-foot center field fence. Sanchez’s drive had a maximum height of just over 60 feet, according to Statcast data (which records the drive as coming off the bat at 94 mph and only at a 24 degree launch angle):
And here’s the actual distance of the hit, according to Hit Tracker:
Rays radio announcers were, as you can imagine, quite baffled that umpires both called it a home run and upheld the call after video review:
Kiermaier’s reputation as one of the best outfielders in baseball cost the Rays, due simply to everyone’s disbelief that he could have misread the ball that badly. Umpire Bill Miller specifically cited Kiermaier’s Gold Glove as his reasoning why the ball must have struck one of the rings, despite that being an impossibility of physics.
I’m not a detective. And it is very confusing with these rings, it’s very, very difficult because it’s difficult to see. And I told Kevin that. I don’t blame Kevin for being upset either, because it’s a very difficult call. We have to go with what we have on the field. And it doesn’t happen very often when a Gold Glove centerfielder runs the wrong way.