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.
- 10/30 HOU@ATL Gm 4: Dan Bellino.

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.

MLB Ejection 190* - Alfonso Marquez (2*; Brian Snitker)

This is a late-add ejection report. 4/11/21: 3B Umpire Alfonso Marquez ejected Braves manager Brian Snitker (Replay Review decision that upheld HP Umpire Lance Barrett's safe call) during the #Phillies-#Braves game. With one out and one on (R3), Phillies batter Didi Gregorius hit a 1-2 fastball from Braves pitcher Will Smith on a fly ball to left fielder Marcell Ozuna as Phillies baserunner R3 Alec Bohm tagged up and attempted to score, ruled safe at home plate by HP Umpire Barrett on a tag attempt by Braves catcher Travis d'Arnaud, and affirmed via Replay Review as the result of a Crew Chief Review by 3B Umpire Marquez. Replays fail to conclusively indicate whether Bohm's foot touched home plate but do conclusively indicate that if Bohm's foot touched home plate, the runner arrived prior to the catcher's tag, the call (call stands) was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Phillies were leading, 7-6. The Phillies ultimately won the contest, 7-6.

This is Alfonso Marquez (72)'s 2nd* ejection of 2021.
*The statistics for this ejection reflect the time at which it was reported.
Both Marquez and Snitker will appear in the 2021 World Series.

This is the 190th ejection report of the 2021 MLB regular season.
This is the 86th manager ejection of 2021.
This is Atlanta's 2nd ejection of 2021, 5th in the NL East (MIA 10; PHI 9; WAS 8; NYM 7; ATL 2).
This is Brian Snitker's 1st ejection since Sept 14, 2019 (Bill Welke; QOC = N [Check Swing]).
This is Alfonso Marquez's 1st ejection since August 19, 2020 (Danny Santana; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Saturday, October 23, 2021

RoboUmp's Odd Strike Zone Gets AFL Game Called Early

Teams ran out of pitchers leading to a game getting called early as the 2021 Arizona Fall League's electronic umpire experiment proved problematic during Saturday's Solar Sox vs Rafters game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. RoboUmp's demi-sized strike zone helped produce 22 walks as Mesa and Salt River bled through 12 pitchers before the teams and umpires agreed to call off the game in the 8th inning with Salt River leading, 15-7. The Automated Ball-Strike System (ABS) is only in use for games played at Salt River Fields.

According to Keith Law at The Athletic, several rule changes were in use during the game, including a variable pitch clock, ban on shifts, and of course an automated strike zone that rendered HP Umpire Alex McKay little more than a computer mouthpiece. (If you're wondering what happens to the MiLB call-ups during the offseason, you can find some working the Arizona Fall League; McKay's crew included 1B Umpire Malachi Moore, 2B Umpire Ryan Wills, and 3B Umpire Kyle McCrady).

Returns from the game indicate an issue that has plagued electronic zones since their very inception: an unforgiving, and in this case small, strike zone that continues to fall short of the standard to which human umpires call balls and strikes. The Atlantic League version, for instance, occasionally fell prey to the opposite problem: strike zones that were too large.

For this reason, our postseason plate performance scores continue to be given in a three-metric format: UEFL f/x with a roughly one-inch margin of error nestled between the larger buffer of Zone Evaluation Equivalent and the zero-error model the viewing audience sees known as ML Public (although our version of ML Public features postgame processing data point correction whereas what fans see on TV is raw and uncorrected).

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Interference in Boston? Laz Diaz's Astros-Red Sox No-Call

After HP Umpire Laz Diaz called strike three on Astros pitcher Cristian Javier's 3-2 fastball to Red Sox batter JD Martinez while catcher Martin Maldonado nearly tried to throw stealing runner Alex Verdugo out at second base, interference questions began popping up, as did both managers with Houston's Dusty Baker campaigning for an interference call on Martinez and Boston's Alex Cora more upset about the strike three call on a pitch off the outside corner.

As we always do, we begin with the rulebook for this play from the bottom of the 3rd inning of Game 4 of the 2021 American League Championship Series. Although Official Baseball Rule 6.03(a)(3) [batter out for illegal action] calls for an out when the batter "interferes with the catcher’s fielding or throwing by stepping out of the batter’s box or making any other movement that hinders the catcher’s play at home base," the relevant rule here is actually OBR 6.01(a)(5) because the batter was out due to the strike three call: "Any batter or runner who has just been put out, or any runner who has just scored, hinders or impedes any following play being made on a runner."

The high school equivalent is NFHS 7-3-5 ("interfere with the catcher's fielding or throwing by leaning over home plate, stepping out of the batter's box, or making any other movement...which hinders actions at home plate or the catcher's attempt to play on a runner") while college is NCAA 6-3-b (similar to OBR), the penalty for which states, "If the batter strikes out, the runner is also out."

While a throw to second is not required to call interference, it sure helps. The throw leaves no doubt as to the catcher's intention and quite clearly demonstrates a hindering act has occurred. By not throwing, Maldonado made Diaz's job more difficult. By not throwing, now the umpire must decide WHY the throw didn't happen. Was it because the catcher thought the pitch was ball four (the computer sure did)? Was it because the runner Verdugo would have slid in safely at second base? Or was it because retired batter Martinez interfered?

In only one of those scenarios would the proper call be interference. In the end, the judgment call rests with that question: what was Maldonado's intent here and why was no throw made? If the answer is because of retired batter Martinez's hindrance, the call is interference. If the answer is because of another reason other than Martinez's movement, the likely call is to make none at all.

Video as follows:

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Discussion of 2021 ALCS & NLCS

Join us for discussion of the 2021 American and National League Championship 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.

 
- 10/15 BOS@HOU Gm 1: David Rackley. 118/119 Balls + 45/52 Strikes = 163/171 = 95.3%. +2 HOU.

- 10/16 BOS@HOU Gm 2: Rob Drake. 128/129 Balls + 43/44 Strikes = 171/173 = 98.8%. +2 HOU.
- 10/16 LAD@ATL Gm 1: Tripp Gibson. 71/72 Balls + 37/37 Strikes = 108/109 = 99.1%. +1 LAD.

- 10/17 LAD@ATL Gm 2: Jordan Baker. 101/104 Balls + 32/36 Strikes = 133/140 = 95.0%. +5 LAD.

- 10/18 HOU@BOS Gm 3: Bill Miller. 102/102 Balls + 42/48 Strikes = 144/150 = 96.0%. +0 Neutral.

- 10/19 ATL@LAD Gm 3: Jerry Meals. 133/135 Balls + 57/62 Strikes = 190/197 = 96.4%. +5 LAD.
- 10/19 HOU@BOS Gm 4: Laz Diaz. 120/124 Balls + 33/46 Strikes = 153/170 = 90.0%. +1 HOU.

- 10/20 HOU@BOS Gm 5: Dan Iassogna. 102/104 Balls + 33/37 Strikes = 135/141 = 95.7%. +4 HOU.
- 10/20 ATL@LAD Gm 4: James Hoye. 91/92 Balls + 43/44 Strikes = 134/136 = 98.5%. +0 Neutral.

- 10/21 ATL@LAD Gm 5: Mark Carlson. 91/92 Balls + 51/54 Strikes = 142/146 = 97.3%. +0 Neutral.

- 10/22 BOS@HOU Gm 6: Jim Wolf. 84/86 Balls + 43/45 Strikes = 127/131 = 96.9%. +4 HOU.

- 10/23 LAD@ATL Gm 6: Lance Barksdale. 100/102 Balls + 46/48 Strikes = 146/150 = 97.3%. +2 LAD.

Note: The highest plate score during the 2020 ALCS/NLCS was John Tumpane's 99.3% (ALCS 2).
The highest overall plate score during the 2020 Postseason was Jordan Baker's 99.4% (ALWC 1).

Monday, October 18, 2021

Teachable - Baker's Barker on Braves' Safe Play at Home

In this postseason, teachable, Tmac spotlights the first part of Atlanta's NLCS Game 2 comeback win over Los Angeles as HP Umpire Jordan Baker rules Braves baserunner Eddie Rosario safe at home plate, having slid ahead of Dodgers catcher Will Smith's tag attempt, a called confirmed by Replay Review.

With one out and one on (R2) in the 8th inning, Braves batter Ozzie Albies hit a Julio Urias curveball on a line drive to right fielder Steven Souza, who fielded the batted ball on a bounce and threw home as runner R2 Rosario rounded third and charged toward the plate. 

We see HP Umpire Baker begin the play at the point of plate before moving toward his left for an intermediate starting position, and then finally sidestepping toward the first baseline in order to maintain the wedge or keyhole angle of daylight between the catcher and runner.

Video as follows:

Friday, October 15, 2021

2021 AL & NL Championship Series Umpire Roster

Major League Baseball assigned 14 umpires to the 2021 American and National League Championship Series round of MLB's postseason, with crew chief Bill Miller working the ALCS and Jerry Meals presiding over the NLCS. The 7th umpire assigned to each crew will serve in a reserve or standby capacity and not travel to/from Replay Review during the postseason. 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.

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 League Championship Series will be noted with a ^ mark.

AL Lg Championship Series (Boston Red Sox @ Houston Astros) Umpires:
HP: David Rackley^
1B: Bill Miller* -cc [Game 3 Plate]
2B: Laz Diaz [Game 4 Plate]
3B: Dan Iassogna* [Game 5 Plate]
LF: Jim Wolf [Game 6 Plate]
RF: Alan Porter [Game 7 Plate]
Reserve/Off: Rob Drake [Game 2 Plate]

NL Lg Championship Series (Los Angeles Dodgers @ Atlanta Braves) Umpires:
HP: Tripp Gibson^
1B: Jerry Meals* -cc [Game 3 Plate]
2B: James Hoye [Game 4 Plate]
3B: Mark Carlson* [Game 5 Plate]
LF: Lance Barksdale [Game 6 Plate]
RF: Todd Tichenor [Game 7 Plate]
Reserve/Off: Jordan Baker^ [Game 2 Plate]

Replay Review: Cory Blaser, Marvin Hudson, Nic Lentz.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Discussion of 2021 AL and NL Division Series

Join us for discussion of the 2021 American and National League Division 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.

 
- 10/7 CWS@HOU Gm 1: Adam Hamari. 112/114 Balls + 42/51 Strikes = 154/165 = 93.3%. +1 HOU.
- 10/7 BOS@TB Gm 1: Dan Bellino. 90/95 Balls + 44/45 Strikes = 134/140 = 95.7%. +2 TB.

- 10/8 CWS@HOU Gm 2: Chris Conroy. 100/101 Balls + 43/44 Strikes = 143/145 = 98.6%. +0 Neutral.
- 10/8 ATL@MIL Gm 1: Mike Estabrook. 87/90 Balls + 32/35 Strikes = 119/125 = 95.2%. +2 MIL.
- 10/8 BOS@TB Gm 2: DJ Reyburn. 108/108 Balls + 46/49 Strikes = 154/157 = 98.1%. +3 BOS.
- 10/8 LAD@SF Gm 1: Carlos Torres. 69/70 Balls + 37/41 Strikes = 106/111 = 95.5%. +5 SF.

- 10/9 ATL@MIL Gm 2: Mike Muchlinski. 92/93 Balls + 49/53 Strikes = 141/146 = 96.6%. +1 MIL.
- 10/9 LAD@SF Gm 2: Angel Hernandez. 87/88 Balls + 41/46 Strikes = 128/134 = 95.5%. +0 Neutral.

- 10/10 TB@BOS Gm 3: Sam Holbrook. 116/120 Balls + 49/54 Strikes = 165/174 = 94.8%. +1 BOS.
- 10/10 HOU@CWS Gm 3: Tom Hallion. 134/139 Balls + 42/51 Strikes = 176/190 = 92.6%. +4 CWS.

- 10/11 MIL@ATL Gm 3: Alfonso Marquez. 90/91 Balls + 37/40 Strikes = 127/131 = 96.9%. +4 MIL.
- 10/11 TB@BOS Gm 4: Ron Kulpa. 73/75 Balls + 31/35 Strikes = 104/110 = 94.5%. +2 BOS.
- 10/11 SF@LAD Gm 3: Ted Barrett. 84/85 Balls + 39/46 Strikes = 123/131 = 93.9%. +4 LAD.

- 10/12 CWS@HOU Gm 4: Vic Carapazza. 117/120 Balls + 57/59 Strikes = 174/179 = 97.2%. +1 CWS.
- 10/12 MIL@ATL Gm 4: Tony Randazzo. 94/98 Balls + 46/50 Strikes = 140/148 = 94.6%. +2 ATL.
- 10/12 SF@LAD Gm 4: Pat Hoberg. 101/103 Balls + 41/42 Strikes = 142/145 = 97.9%. +1 LAD.

- 10/14 LAD@SF Gm 5: Doug Eddings. 86/87 Balls + 43/45 Strikes = 129/132 = 97.7%. +1 LAD.

Note: The highest plate score during the 2020 Division Series was Todd Tichenor's 98.0% (ALDS 4).
The highest overall plate score during the 2020 Postseason was Hoberg/Hudson/Miller's 98.7% (WC/WS).

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Brewers-Braves NLDS & Replay's Infield Fly Limitation

In Game 4 of the #Brewers-#Braves National League Division Series, umpires conducted a rules check on Adam Duvall's foul fly ball to Milwaukee third baseman Luis Urias behind home plate, deflected by catcher Omar Narvaez. The only problem? The play was unreviewable thanks to MLB's long-standing replay rules.

Ever since baseball first released its Replay Review Regulations in 2014, the question of what is and isn't reviewable has been a point of contention. While certain plays—pitchers intentionally throwing at batters or certain interference/obstruction calls—wisely are excluded from replay eligibility, there are others that are a little more curious. One of those? Fly balls in the infield.

Accordingly, as soon as Duvall's foul fly resulted in a diving catch by the glove of Urias, we knew that HP Umpire Tony Randazzo's out call would be unreviewable. And although the play occurred in the general vicinity of the screen behind home plate, we also knew it was nowhere near close enough to trigger a stadium boundary review.

Based on Crew Chief Alfonso Marquez's mechanics (which was to give no signal after removing the headsets to NY), it is quite apparent this play was not formally reviewed: the rules check simply established that Braves manager Brian Snitker's attempt to challenge the catch/no catch call was not a reviewable element of the play, even if the pop fly itself was high enough in the air that it was not one of those catch/no catch bullets hit down the first or third base line that Bud Selig made reference to in 2012. As the game evolves so too must replay.

Which returns us to our 2017 instant replay argument: let's make more things reviewable.

Video as follows: