Tuesday, December 7, 2021

2021 Ejection of the Year - Tom Hallion & Jeremy Riggs

Tom Hallion and Jeremy Riggs produced 2021's Ejections of the Year [2020: Dan Bellino].
Voting: 160 Hallion (12.0%), 101 Riggs (11.4%), 55 Joe West (9.8%), 103 Cory Blaser (7.4%).

Ejection 160 - Tom Hallion (Andy Green)
Tom Hallion's September 3, 2021 ejection of Chicago Cubs acting manager Andy Green after a correctly officiated bona fide slide rule interference no-call received the most votes for the UEFL Ejection of the Year Award.

During the ensuing argument, Hallion stated to Green, "You don't even know what the f* you're talking about. That's what I'm telling you: You don't always know what the f* you're talking about."

As far as final career ejections are concerned, Hallion's could be near the top of the all-time list.

When Jeremy Riggs ejected Mets manager Luis Rojas as New York visited Pittsburgh on July 18, 2021, it brought into focus several key decisions that had to be made in a very short period of time: Riggs' multiple judgment calls on this play included whether the batted ball hit the batter in the box (no), whether the batted ball touched the lead baserunner along the foul line (no), whether or not the runner interfered with the catcher (no), whether the pitcher first touched the batted ball on the infield in fair or foul territory (fair), whether the third base coach interfered with the defense's play on the trailing runner (no), whether the third baseman obstructed the trailing baserunner (no), and whether the ball left the playing field (no).

Replays indicate Riggs' calls were correct while Rojas, apparently not satisfied with Riggs' response, appeared to assault bump the umpire. Perhaps the ejection accomplished its goal, as the Mets came back from a six-run deficit to defeat the Pirates one day after blowing a six-run lead to lose to Pittsburgh, the first time such an event has occurred in MLB history.

Perhaps best of all, this ejection featured commentary by legendary broadcaster Gary Thorne.

UEFL Awards History, Tom Hallion
Crew Chief of the Year: 2021

UEFL Awards History, Jeremy Riggs

The final postseason award, (Best) Umpire of the Year, will be released next | Videos as follows:

Monday, December 6, 2021

2021 Promising Umpire Award - T Gibson, Pat Hoberg

Tripp Gibson & Pat Hoberg are 2021's Promising Umpires of the Year [2020: Hoberg & John Tumpane].
Voting: T Gibson (17.7%), Hoberg (16.7%), Adam Hamari (14.1%), Jeremie Rehak (12.0%).

Tripp Gibson & Pat Hoberg are UEFL's 2021 Promising Umpires of the Year.

Gibson's first career League Championship Series, a Game 1 plate assignment, solidified his selection as the top-vote getter for the Promising Umpire of the Year Award, an award given to an umpire on the younger side of the MLB ledger who demonstrates a readiness for further advancement and development. Gibson's 2021 LCS plate score was a postseason-high 99.1% (108/109 pitches).

As Russ wrote, "Tripp was one of the best balls/strike Umpires all season and was justifiably rewarded with his first LCS. He was the least experienced 3 going into the season but that didn't matter as he performed tremendously and even spent a lot of time as an acting 2 with Layne out. He is off to a great start in his career and it is only going to continue to blossom."

Hoberg wins this award for the third consecutive season, this time working in the replay room for his first World Series after a Division Series two weeks prior. Hoberg has now officiated every postseason since he became eligible in 2018. 

UEFL Awards History, Tripp Gibson
Fill-In Umpire of the Year: 2014

UEFL Awards History, Pat Hoberg
Promising Umpire of the Year: 2019, 2020

The next postseason award to be released will be Ejection of the Year.

Friday, December 3, 2021

2021 UEFL Award for Gera Honorable Umpire - Joe West

Joe West wins the UEFL's 2021 Bernice Gera Honorable Umpire Award [2020: Angel Hernandez & West].
Voting Results: Joe West (23.6%), Tom Hallion (8.3%), Gerry Davis (6.9%).

Joe West is the UEFL's 2021 Bernice Gera Honorable Umpire of the Year.

As baseball's Blue Cowboy hangs up his mask and WestVest for the final time on an MLB field, he first stops to collect the UEFL's Bernice Gera Honorable Umpire of the Year Award.

After setting the MLB record for most regular season games officiated in major league history back in May by first tying Bill Klem at 5,375 and then surpassing The Old Arbiter, West earned himself a postseason plate assignment in a winner take all game—the NL Wild Card Game—and promptly proceeded to give as a farewell gift to baseball a typical West postseason performance: a 98.8% game, or 164/166.

In voting for West's repeat Honorable Umpire nod (2020-21) this year, UEFL'ers cited both West's milestone season as well as West's numerous contributions to the game of baseball from his NL debut in 1976, some 45 years ago.

Retrosheet gives West a final career tally of 5,460 regular season games officiated, 4 Wild Card assignments (3 Games + 1 Series [2 games] = 5 total games), 8 Division Series (33 games), 10 League Championship Series (60 games), 6 World Series (34 games), and 3 All-Star Games. West's career ejection total reached 196.

West will be eligible for Hall of Fame candidacy six months following retirement, which, depending on how long the owners-players dispute and lockout lasts, may be a little while. Thus, while West may be realistically off the field, he (and several other umpires this year) is not actually "retired" just yet.

UEFL Awards History, Joe West
Honorable Umpire of the Year: 2009, 2020
Ejection of the Year: 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018

The next postseason award to be announced will be Promising Umpire of the Year.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

2021 UEFL Award for Crew Chief - Tom Hallion

Tom Hallion wins the UEFL's 2021 Crew Chief of the Year Award [2020 Winner: Jim Reynolds].
Voting Results: Hallion (30.8%), Joe West (18.9%), Dan Iassogna / Alfonso Marquez (7.1%).

Tom Hallion is the 2021 UEFL Crew Chief of the Year

In what may be his final MLB season (subject to the outcome of the owners/players' dispute and lockout amongst others), Tom Hallion returned to the Fall Classic with his second career World Series assignment, this time as Crew Chief.

Voters cited his leadership and handling of this non-runner's lane interference situation in the Houston-Chicago ALDS, a no-call supported by rule.

Hallion also featured in a September Teachable regarding a tag play involving the batter-runner sliding into first base.

UEFL Awards History, Tom Hallion

The next postseason award to be announced will be the Bernice Gera Honorable Umpire of the Year.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

2021 UEFL Award for Fill-In Umpire - John Libka

John Libka wins UEFL's 2021 Fill-In Umpire of the Year Award [2020 Winner: Jeremie Rehak].
Voting Results: Libka (35.0%), Ben May (10.6%), Jeremy Riggs (9.4%).

John Libka is the 2021 UEFL Fill-In Umpire of the Year

Not many categories proved to be landslides, but John Libka ran away with the Fill-In Umpire of the Year vote. In addition to a consistently superior strike zone—Libka's plate scores in 2021 once again ranked at the top of the league—Libka also drew praise for situation handling throughout the season during ejections and other difficult situations.

Libka's textbook mechanics and positioning in Chicago earlier this season was featured as the April 2021 Call of the Month.

MLB seems to agree, having assigned Libka a career-high 134 major league games during the 2021 season for a total of 371 MLB contests since debuting during the 2017 season. The only call-ups to officiate more big league games in 2021 were Nick Mahrley and Ryan Additon, who took to the field 138 and 137 times, respectively.

UEFL Awards History, John Libka

The next postseason award to be announced will be Crew Chief of the Year.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

2021 UEFL Award for Most Improved - Mike Estabrook

The Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's 2021 Postseason Award recipient for Most Improved Umpire is Mike Estabrook (83) [2020 Winner: CB Bucknor]).
Voting Results (Top 3): Estabrook (16.0%), Rob Drake (14.1%), Jordan Baker (5.1%).

Mike Estabrook receives 2021's Most Improved Umpire Award.

In nominating Estabrook for the 2021 Most Improved Umpire Award, many voters referred to 2019, during which Estabrook ejected an MLB-high 13 players, coaches, and managers. By contrast, Estabrook's ejection total during the COVID-shortened 2020 season was one while Estabrook ejected two people in 2021.

Another common theme was an improved strike zone and overall improvement that helped Estabrook return to the postseason, his first Division Series assignment during a full season of baseball.

UEFL Awards History, Mike Estabrook

The next postseason award to be announced will be Fill-In Umpire of the Year.

Monday, November 29, 2021

2021 UEFL Award for Disappointing Season - Doug Eddings

The Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's 2021 Postseason Award recipient for Most Disappointing Season is Doug Eddings (88) [2020 Winner: Rob Drake]).
Voting Results (Top 3): Eddings (13.1%), Angel Hernandez (12.5%), Hunter Wendelstedt (6.9%).

The UEFL Awards as defined in Rule 4-4 begin with Most Disappointing Season, below, and continue with Most Improved, Fill-In, Crew Chief, Honorable, Promising, Ejection(s) of the Year and concluding with Umpire of the Year. 209 total ballots were cast during this year's nominations process.

Doug Eddings receives 2021's Most Disappointing Season Award.

Eddings, it should be noted, received a postseason assignment in the form of Game 5 HP Umpire for the Dodgers-Giants NL Division Series, in which Eddings called a respectable 97.7%, the second-highest score of that NLDS (Pat Hoberg Gm 4 was highest [97.9%]).

Yet, as JD wrote in nominating Eddings for this award, "I'll be straightforward, this was an awful year in all optics for him...his body language out there at times made it seem like he wasn't enjoying himself or the profession." NoahYingling noted recency bias may have played a role, as Eddings' first half appeared stronger than the second half.

Eddings concluded 2021 with eight ejections and featured prominently in Crew Chief Bill Miller's late September ejection of Cardinals manager Mike Schildt following an infield fly rule/changed out/safe/"Time" play in which both Miller and 3B Umpire Gabe Morales signaled an infield fly on a batter's R1-R2, one-out fair pop fly in front of third base, but 2B Umpire Eddings nonetheless ruled R1 out on a (non-existent) force play when the defense tagged second base.

During that ejection, commenter John noted that due to the ejection's very-late-season occurrence, "I'm not sure that we can assume that Eddings won't get any playoff games. While this call is BAD it's already been mentioned that the playoff list for the WC and divisional series has already gone out to the selected umpires."

UEFL Awards History, Doug Eddings
Most Improved Umpire of the Year - 2019

The next postseason award, Most Improved Umpire of the Year, will be released next.

Monday, November 15, 2021

2021 UEFL Year-End Awards Nominations Open

The Umpire Ejection Fantasy League announces its annual Postseason Awards and opens nominations at this time

Link to Postseason Awards Ballot (also appears below):
a. Umpire of the Year (min. 1 / max. 1 umpire) +5
b. Promising Umpire of the Year (min. 1 / max. 2) +3
c. Bernice Gera Honorable Umpire (min. 0 / max. 1) +2
d. Fill-In Umpire of the Year (min. 0 / max. 1) +2
e. Most Improved Umpire (min. 0 / max. 1) +1
f. Crew Chief of the Year (min. 0 / max. 1) +1
g. Best Ejection of the Year (min. 0 / max. 2) +1
h. Most Disappointing Season (min. 0 / max. 1) -1

An eligible umpire may be selected for as many or as few awards as that umpire is eligible for; Ballots will be accepted until 11:59pm on Tuesday, November 23, with awards distribution beginning shortly thereafter.

Ballot as follows:

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

2021 World Series Discussion

Join us for discussion of the 2021 World Series: As we have done in the past, we will post UEFL f/x plate scores for every home plate umpire this postseason.

Performance plate scores are listed following the completion of each contest according to UEFL f/x (StatCast data and application of UEFL Rules 6-2-b-a [horizontal bound, "Kulpa Rule"] and 6-2-b-b [vertical strike zone, "Miller Rule"]) for called strikes and balls. Foul balls, swinging strikes, balls put in play, automatic balls, pitchouts, and hit-by-pitches are excluded from the analysis. Click here to learn how UEFL f/x 3.0 plate scores work.

- 10/26 ATL@HOU Gm 1: Chris Conroy. 112/113 Balls + 44/46 Strikes = 156/159 = 98.1%. +3 HOU.

- 10/27 ATL@HOU Gm 2: Ron Kulpa. 79/79 Balls + 39/41 Strikes = 118/120 = 98.3%. +0 Neutral.

- 10/29 HOU@ATL Gm 3: Tom Hallion. 106/108 Balls + 35/38 Strikes = 141/146 = 96.6%. +1 HOU.

- 10/30 HOU@ATL Gm 4: Dan Bellino. 107/110 Balls + 41/43 Strikes = 148/153 = 96.7%. +1 HOU.

- 10/31 HOU@ATL Gm 5: Ted Barrett. 111/112 Balls + 51/59 Strikes = 162/171 = 94.7%. +3 ATL.

- 11/2 ATL@HOU Gm 6: Mike Muchlinski. 93/94 Balls + 46/50 Strikes = 139/144 = 96.5%. +1 HOU.

Note: The highest plate score during the 2020 World Series was Marvin Hudson's 98.7% (WS 5).
The highest overall plate score during the 2020 Postseason was Jordan Baker's 99.4% (ALWC 1).

Monday, October 25, 2021

2021 MLB World Series Umpire Roster

Major League Baseball assigned seven umpires to the 2021 World Series, with crew chief Tom Hallion leading the way with backup chief Ted Barrett and first-timers Dan Bellino, Chris Conroy, and Mike Muchlinski. The 7th umpire position for the World Series is a reserve or standby slot and will remain with the crew instead of traveling to/from New York's Replay Review HQ during the Fall Classic. Instead, the umpire rotation shall be as follows: Game 1: HP; Game 2: RF; Game 3: LF; Game 4: 3B; Game 5: 2B; Game 6: 1B; Game 7: Reserve/Off; the Reserve/Off-field standby umpire position precedes the home plate assignment.

Crew Chiefs are indicated in bold text and by the -cc suffix with regular season crew chiefs denoted by an asterisk (*) while those working their first career World Series will be noted with a ^ mark.

MLB World Series (Atlanta Braves @ Houston Astros)
HP: Chris Conroy^
1B: Tom Hallion* -cc [Game 3 Plate]
2B: Dan Bellino^ [Game 4 Plate]
3B: Ted Barrett* [Game 5 Plate]
LF: Mike Muchlinski^ [Game 6 Plate]
RF: Alfonso Marquez* [Game 7 Plate]
Reserve/Off: Ron Kulpa [Game 2 Plate]

Replay Review: Pat Hoberg, Tim Timmons.