|Davidson and Girardi. Photo: Rick Osentoski/US Presswire|
Said Granderson, "You’ve seen a lot of missed plays. They’re humans back there. They’re going to make some mistakes. But part of the game is, sometimes there have to be some consequences for it. As players, if we make mistakes, there are consequences for us. You get errors; you get pulled out, possibly sent down. Different stuff happens to us. There has to be a similar type of situation on the other end."
In 2010, ESPN released a study declaring that umpires miss one out of every five non-balls/strikes close calls, though as further analysis was quick to point out, only 1.3 calls per game were deemed "close," and of these 20 percent were missed: In other words, an average of 0.26 calls per game were missed.
A regulation baseball game must have, at the very least, 55 calls per game (27 outs + 27 outs + 1 run-producing play that does not result in an out [e.g., a home run]): most ballgames feature considerably more than 55 calls, but for illustrative purposes and because several calls may be via the called third strike, 55 it is. Based on ESPN's study, umpires missed 0.26 out of these 55 calls. For the sake of clarity, 0.26 is assumed to be one-fourth of a call, which is multiplied by four to allow for whole unit analysis. 55 multiplied by four is 220.
In other words, an umpire misses one non-ball/strikes call every 220 chances, an accuracy of 99.545 percent, which seems rather high given that of the 18 non-balls/strikes, non-fighting/throwing at ejections thus far in 2012, just 10 of them have resulted from a correct call—eight of the 18 ejections resulted from a conclusively incorrect call, which is just a 55.6 percent accuracy rate, less than the ESPN study's 65.7 percent confirmed correct rate for those 1.3 close calls per game.
Nonetheless, 219-of-220 chances may be most comparable to a player's fielding percentage: Ironically, it is another Yankee, first baseman Mark Teixeira, that currently leads the major leagues with a 1.000 fielding percentage for all fielders who have had at least 400 chances in 2012.
For non-first basemen, Nationals catcher Jesus Flores leads with 241-of-241 successes, though Russell Martin is 333-of-334 (99.7 percent): The majority of every-day players fall below the 99.545 umpiring benchmark and fatigue certainly appears to play a role: The highest fielding percentage for a player who has had over 500 chances in 2012 belongs to San Diego's Yonder Alonso, who with six errors out of 518 chances, holds a 98.8 percentage.
In 2011, Tampa Bay's Casey Kotchman once again impressed and led qualifiers with just two errors in 1201 chances—a 99.8 fielding percentage, while Martin drew the league average of 98.9 percent. For those not familiar with Kotchman's work, he also holds the MLB record for 2,379 consecutive fielding chances without an error.
So as Granderson called for greater umpire accountability, we revisit Saturday's ejection at the hands of Davidson, the most recent umpire and first since 2008 to receive a suspension for what the Baseball Office of the Commissioner referred to as, "repeated violations of the BOC's standards for situation handling." Davidson had gone nose-to-nose in an animated argument with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel last month.
Though Davidson did not appear to act aggressively when ejecting Long and Girardi on Saturday, the Yankees still questioned his conduct; Girardi specifically second-guessed Davidson's looking into the Yankees dugout after a foul ball landed in the camera well directly adjacent to said dugout: "Davidson turned toward our dugout and looked like at K-Long instead of going back to the plate. He said not to say anything else, Kevin [Long] did, and he got thrown out. That's what made me so hot."
For New York, the ejections capped off a week that also featured a dispute between umpire Laz Diaz and Yankees catcher Russell Martin. Martin had argued balls and strikes, an ejectable offense; however and in lieu of ejection, Diaz allegedly punished the catcher by not allowing the backstop to throw new balls to his pitcher.
Martin had previously been ejected late last season after baiting umpire Paul Schrieber into a "poor perception ejection."
Should umpires be subject to performance-based punishment? Should a high-profile missed call subject an umpire to suspension, fines or even demotion? Or, perhaps, should MLB raise the league minimum for umpires to $480,000, to match their player minimum, so that umpires do have a financial incentive for such scrutiny?