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Umpire Rosters: 2019 Regular Season Crews | Listen to our Podcast: Episode 12 - Jim Joyce

Friday, April 19, 2019

MLB Ejection 033 - Todd Tichenor (1; Ron Gardenhire)

HP Umpire Todd Tichenor ejected Tigers Manager Ron Gardenhire (ball four call; QOCY) in the top of the 5th inning of the White Sox-Tigers game. With two out and the bases loaded, White Sox batter Yoan Moncada took a 3-1 curveball from Tigers pitcher Jordan Zimmermann for a called fourth ball. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the inner edge of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px 0.95, pz 1.67 [sz_bot 1.60]) and that all other balls during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the White Sox were leading, 2-1. The White Sox ultimately won the contest, 7-3.

This is Todd Tichenor (13)'s first ejection of 2019.
Todd Tichenor now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 4).
Crew Chief Phil Cuzzi now has -1 points in Crew Division (-2 Previous + 1 Correct Call = -1).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
*This pitch was located 2.424 horizontal inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 33rd ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 13th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Detroit's 1st ejection of 2019, T-3rd in the AL Central (CWS, KC 2; DET, MIN 1; CLE 0).
This is Ron Gardenhire's first ejection since August 31, 2018 (Paul Nauert; QOC = N [Check Swing]).
This is Todd Tichenor's first ejection since August 3, 2017 (Billy Hamilton; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Chicago White Sox vs Detroit Tigers, 4/19/19 | Video as follows:

Call for Umpire Accountability & the 97% Plate Score

With fan and player fury on the rise, Major League Baseball's internal system for evaluating home plate umpires—called Zone Evaluation or Z-E—holds that MLB's umpire staff is 97%+ accurate in calling balls and strikes, all while wall-to-wall extracurricular studies place umpire accuracy at relatively lower figures from the 80 percentile-range to the low 90s.*

Why does such a discrepancy exist and why isn't Z-E's 97%+ score better known or accepted?

For one, Zone Evaluation rarely, if ever, sees the light of day outside of MLB's internal umpire operations, while the FoxTrax, K-Zone, Brooks Baseball, and other demonstrations are easily accessible and common to the game. If one system monopolizes the public eye, as non-ZE components do, one could surmise that the public would be more likely to adapt to it.
*You'll notice that the first paragraph ended with an asterisk. That's because 97% was the Z-E score from 2016—that's how closely guarded the secret is...the more recent figure isn't public (though one could argue the 2016 figure isn't exactly common knowledge, either). And before anyone calls and asks how I got that number—which, again, is usually a closely guarded trade secret—it was provided to Gil (LeBreton, of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram), who perhaps got it from HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, who perhaps got it from MLB (or any iteration thereof).
That's right, for one shining moment, the guarded Z-E score of 97% from 2016 was public-facing.

K-Zone says it's a ball, but f/x disagrees. Why?
With fandom's increasing call for "umpire accountability," it bears note that the league constantly evaluates its umpires through Z-E, on-site supervisors, or the Supervisor Umpire Review and Evaluation system (the SURE system), to name a few methods, and if umpires fail to meet standards, there are mechanisms to address this. Naturally, this entire process is behind-the-scenes, leaving the common fan to decry a supposed lack of accountability when, in private, umpires are held to an internal standard.

In regard to Z-E's 97%—the league's evaluation of umpires—HBO's report clashed with MLB's ZE number in rather short order, seemingly throwing out MLB's baby with the accountability bathwater.

It's not personal. As Boyle, O'Rourke, Long, and Pavlidis wrote in 2018, "There are myriad issues with implementing a ball-and-strike-calling system like this for real games. The primary issue is that using machine measurements to call balls and strikes will simply shift disagreements with the call from the umpire to the machine, or to the machine’s operators."
Related LinkRobo Strike Zone: It’s Not as Simple as You Think (Baseball Prospectus, 1/29/18)
Related PostGil's Call: The Blame Game (Umpire Scapegoating) (8/8/14).

It's all about answering the following question:
Did a sphere traverse a perpetually in flux prism?
The conflict, summed up in nary 31 words, via LeBreton: "MLB claims its umpires call 97 percent of balls and strikes correctly. But according to [Yale University Economics Professor Toby] Moscowitz and HBO, the study showed that only about 88 percent of the calls were accurate."

The 2019 Study: Most recently, Boston University master lecturer Mark T. Williams in the Boston University School of Business' Finance and Economics Department authorized an article entitled, "MLB Umpires Missed 34,294 Ball-Strike Calls in 2018. Bring on Robo-umps?"

The Trend Toward Good: League-wide, Williams concluded that umpires are trending toward greater plate accuracy, finding that the league-wide "bad call ratio" decreased every year during the period for which data was processed (2008-2018), though Williams cautioned that instead of championing this trend to demonstrate improvement in the officiating ranks, MLB would be wise to continue to implement technology and other approaches to drive the error rate further downward.

We discussed the discrepancy in 2018.
With a variable Williams' team termed a "bad call ratio" (BCR) of 9.21% in 2018, the inverse—90.79%—best corresponds to the concept of a plate accuracy score...but the Williams-found 90.79% score is still well below 2016's Z-E of 97%—or even 2012's Z-E of 95%.

Why? The public numbers and the private numbers are based on the same pitch-tracking data, so there must be some difference in how the two sectors interpret the data. What are the rules?

We previously discussed the issue of this discrepancy as a player-umpire disconnect in October 2018, but there's more to it and a new study of ball/strike decisions renews interest in the subject with what can best be said is a frustrating gap between officiating-centric circles or the league itself and, well, at-large fans of the game. The rules difference is simple: the various parties aren't speaking the same statistical language.
Related PostUEFL f/x vs K-Zone and the Player-Umpire Disconnect (10/4/18).
Related PostAnalyzing Strike Zone Analysis - Not So Easy or Simple (10/27/16).
Related PostDude, What Happened Last Night? About Pitch f/x Error (8/30/16).

Because of William's conclusion of umpires trending toward greater accuracy (via a trend toward lower error), we can be surmise that 2017 and 2018's ZE scores likely improved over 2016's 97%, which itself was an improvement over the 95% Z-E score in mid-2012.

CloseCallSports is attempting to procure an interview with Williams to discuss his findings and implications for baseball officiating, which we hope to bring you in a follow-up article and, hopefully, podcast episode.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

MLB Ejections 031-32 - Ryan Additon (1-2; Bochy, Belt)

HP Umpire Ryan Additon ejected Giants Manager Bruce Bochy (strike three call; QOCN) in the top of the 5th and LF Brandon Belt (strike three call; QOCN) in the top of the 7th inning of the Giants-Nationals game. In the 5th, with none out and none on, Belt took a 3-2 fastball from Nationals pitcher Patrick Corbin for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and waist-high (px -1.16, pz 2.41), the call was incorrect.* At the time of Bochy's ejection, the Nationals were leading, 3-0.

In the 7th, with two out and none on, Belt took a 1-2 fastball from Corbin for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px -1.00, pz 2.10), the call was incorrect.* At the time of Belt's ejection, the Nationals were leading, 4-0. The Nationals ultimately won the contest, 4-2.

These are Ryan Additon (67)'s first and second ejections of 2019.
Ryan Additon now has -4 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2*[2 AAA - 4 Incorrect Call] = -4).
Crew Chief Jeff Nelson now has 3 points in Crew Division (3 Previous + 2*[0 Incorrect Call] = 3).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
*The 5th inning pitch was located 2.952 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.
*The 7th inning pitch was located 1.032 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.

These are the 31st and 32nd ejection reports of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 12th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is the 16th player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Belt was 0-3 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is San Francisco's 1/2nd ejection of 2019, 1st in the NL West (SF 2; ARI, LAD, SD 1; COL 0).
This is Bruce Bochy's first ejection since Sept 7, 2018 (Adam Hamari; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Brandon Belt's first ejection since July 14, 2018 (Greg Gibson; QOC = Y [Check Swing]).
This is Ryan Additon's first ejection since July 15, 2018 (Eduardo Escobar; QOC = U [Fighting]).

Wrap: San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals, 4/18/19 | Video as follows:

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

MLB Ejection 030 - Jeremie Rehak (2; Justin Bour)

HP Umpire Jeremie Rehak ejected Angels 1B Justin Bour (strike three call; QOCN) in the top of the 9th inning of the Angels-Rangers game. With one out and the bases loaded, Bour took a 1-2 fastball from Rangers pitcher Jose Leclerc for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located off the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px -1.11, pz 1.89 [sz_bot 1.58]), the call was incorrect.* At the time of the ejection, the Rangers were leading, 5-3. The Rangers ultimately won the contest, 5-4.


This is Jeremie Rehak (35)'s second ejection of 2019.
Jeremie Rehak now has 0 points in the UEFL Standings (2 Prev + 2 AAA - 4 Incorrect Call = 0).
Crew Chief Gerry Davis now has 0 points in Crew Division (0 Previous + 0 Incorrect Call = 0).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
*This pitch was located 2.352 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.

This is the 30th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 15th player ejection of 2019. Prior to ejection, Bour was 1-5 (2 SO) in the contest.
This is Los Angeles' 2nd ejection of 2019, T-1st in the AL West (LAA, HOU 2; OAK, SEA, TEX 0).
This is Justin Bour's first career MLB ejection.
This is Jeremie Rehak's 2nd ejection of 2019, 1st since April 13 (Russell Martin; QOC = U [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Texas Rangers, 4/17/19 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 029 - CB Bucknor (1; Tim Cossins)

HP Umpire CB Bucknor ejected Orioles Field Coordinator Tim Cossins (ball one call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 3rd inning of the Orioles-Rays game. With none out and none on, Rays batter Yandy Diaz took a 0-1 fastball from Orioles pitcher David Hess for a called first ball. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the heart of home plate and below the hollow of the knee (px 0.03, pz 1.45 [sz_bot 1.66]) and that all other callable pitches during the half-inning were properly officiated, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Rays were leading, 5-0. The Rays ultimately won the contest, 8-1.

This is CB Bucknor (54)'s first ejection of 2019.
CB Bucknor now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 4).
Crew Chief Fieldin Culbreth now has 2 points in Crew Division (1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 2).
*This pitch was located 4.992 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.
^This is the first known ejection of a Field Coordinator in MLB history.

This is the 29th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is Baltimore's 3rd ejection of 2019, 1st in the AL East (BAL 3; BOS, NYY, TB, TOR 0).
This is Tim Cossins' first career MLB ejection.
This is CB Bucknor's first ejection since May 5, 2018 (John Gibbons; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Baltimore Orioles vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 4/17/19 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejections 025-28 - Joe West (1-4; KC-CWS Fight)

2B Umpire Joe West ejected Royals pitcher Brad Keller (throwing at White Sox batter Tim Anderson), White Sox SS Tim Anderson, Manager Rick Renteria, and Royals Bench Coach Dale Sveum (fighting) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the Royals-White Sox game. In the 4th, with two out and one on (R2), Anderson hit a 3-2 fastball from Keller for a two-run home run, appearing to flip his bat at home plate. In the 6th, Anderson took a first-pitch fastball from Keller for a hit-by-pitch, resulting in a bench-clearing incident. Replays indicate the pitch was located inside and struck Anderson in the left buttock, warnings had not previously been issued, the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejections, the game was tied, 2-2. The Royals ultimately won the contest, 4-3, in 10 innings.

These are Joe West (22)'s first through fourth ejections of 2019..
Joe West now has 8 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 4*[2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable] = 8).
Crew Chief Joe West now has 1 point in Crew Division (-3 Previous + 4 Irrecusable Calls = 1).
Related PostMLBUA Calls for BOC Action After Latest Umpire Abuse (9/23/18).

These are the 25th, 26th, 27th, and 28th ejection reports of the 2019 MLB regular season.
These are the 13th and 14th player ejections of 2019.
Prior to ejection, Keller's line was 5.0 IP, 2 ER, while Anderson was 1-2 (HR, HBP) in the contest.
This is the 11th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Kansas City's 1/2nd ejection of 2019, T-1st in the AL Central (CWS, KC 2; MIN 1; CLE, DET 0).
This is Chicago's 1/2nd ejection of 2019, T-1st in the AL Central (CWS, KC 2; MIN 1; CLE, DET 0).
This is Brad Keller's first career MLB ejection.
This is Tim Anderson's first ejection since Sept 22, 2018 (Joe West; QOC = Y [Replay Review]).
This is Rick Renteria's first ejection since Sept 22, 2018 (Joe West; QOC = Y [Replay Review]).
This is Dale Sveum's first ejection since Sept 5, 2018 (Marty Foster; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Kansas City Royals vs. Chicago White Sox, 4/17/19 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 024 - Nick Mahrley (1; David Bell)

HP Umpire Nick Mahrley ejected Reds Manager David Bell (strike one call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 5th inning of the Reds-Dodgers game. With two out and none on, Reds batter Jose Iglesias took a first-pitch fastball from Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler for a called first strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px 0.53, pz 1.24 [sz_bot 1.44 / RAD 1.317 / MOE 1.234]), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 0-0. The Dodgers ultimately won the contest, 3-2.

This is Nick Mahrley (48)'s first ejection of 2019.
Nick Mahrley now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 AAA + 2 Correct Call = 4).
Crew Chief Dana DeMuth now has 0 points in Crew Division (-1 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 0).
*This pitch was located 0.072 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 24th ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the 10th Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Cincinnati's 5th ejection of 2019, 1st in the NL Central (CIN 5; CHC, PIT 2; MIL, STL 1).
This is David Bell's 2nd ejection of 2019, 1st since April 7 (Jeff Kellogg; QOC = U [Warnings]).
This is Nick Mahrley's first ejection since August 26, 2017 (Brad Ausmus; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Cincinnati Reds vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, 4/17/19 | Video as follows:

Respect Complaint - Martinez Grieves Randazzo's EJ

After Tony Randazzo ejected Nationals Manager Dave Martinez for arguing a strike three call Tuesday, the DC skipper complained about the MLB umpire's conduct, alleging that Randazzo unjustly ejected him because he did not leave the dugout and did not curse.

Said Martinez:
I was in the dugout, just told him, 'Hey, let's go, you've gotta be better than that.' I didn't cuss, I didn't say much other than, 'let's go,' and what really irritated me was him putting his hand up in my face, pretty much. I can tolerate a lot of things, don't do that.
The hand to which Martinez referred was Randazzo warning the Nats skipper to stop—officiating's classic stop sign maneuver, accompanied Tuesday night by Randazzo stating, "that's enough." Martinez's "in my face" comment is not a figurate statement, as Randazzo was likely 20 feet away from the Nationals dugout as he warned Martinez, but a metaphorical interpretation of an umpire's directive to stop arguing balls and strikes.

Continued Martinez:
I have a lot of respect for umpires, everybody knows that. I typically don't complain too much about them. But, him walking down towards our dugout when I'm in the dugout, I hope the league looks at that because I didn't say much to get tossed, but he felt like I said enough.
Martinez then began listing officiating decisions he took umbrage with throughout the game, then made one final logician's mistake to refute his previous claim that, "I didn't say much to get tossed."

When Martinez concluded his remarks about Tuesday's ejection, he stated, "At some point, I've got to say my piece...it was about that time." So he said his piece...but not enough to get tossed?
Related PostMLB Ejection 023 - Tony Randazzo (1; Dave Martinez) (4/16/19).

Also in the News: Blue Jays player Freddy Galvis took to the media to complain about HP Umpire Quinn Wolcott last week: "I feel like the umpire wasn’t a professional at that point," taking issue with Wolcott's alleged conversation with opposing catcher Mike Zunino during an at-bat.

Galvis echoed Martinez's general theme of respect: "I think you have to have some respect because everybody’s trying to do their job."

Galvis said he told Toronto Manager Charlie Montoyo about the problem when he returned to the dugout, spurring Montoyo to have a conversation with Wolcott during a subsequent inning break.

Galvis said the chatty problem was gone by his third at-bat, suggesting an emerging theme of players airing grievances against umpires to the media whether or not the issue is resolved on the field of play.
Related PostMLBUA Calls for BOC Action After Latest Umpire Abuse (9/23/18).

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

MLB Ejection 023 - Tony Randazzo (1; Dave Martinez)

HP Umpire Tony Randazzo ejected Nationals Manager Dave Martinez (strike three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 5th inning of the Giants-Nationals game. With two out and one on (R1), Nationals batter Anthony Rendon took a 2-2 changeup from Giants pitcher Dereck Rodriguez for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and at the midpoint (px 0.62, pz 3.38 [sz_top 3.22 / RAD 3.343 / MOE 3.426]) and that all other pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Giants were leading, 3-1. The Giants ultimately won the contest, 7-3.

This is Tony Randazzo (42)'s first ejection of 2019.
Tony Randazzo now has 4 points in the UEFL Standings (0 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 4).
Crew Chief Jeff Nelson now has 3 points in Crew Division (2 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 3).
*This pitch was located 0.552 vertical inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 23rd ejection report of the 2019 MLB regular season.
This is the ninth Manager ejection of 2019.
This is Washington's 1st ejection of 2019, T-2nd in the NL East (ATL 2; NYM, WAS 1; MIA, PHI 0).
This is Dave Martinez's first ejection since April 7, 2018 (Marty Foster; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Tony Randazzo's first ejection since May 27, 2018 (AJ Hinch; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals, 4/16/19 | Video as follows:

Head Hits Plague MLB Umps - Concussion Management

Since MLB's traditional Opening Day some two-plus weeks ago, five umpires have left games after being struck in the mask by a foul ball or errant pitch, causing the League to employ its concussion protocol for home plate umps at an exorbitant rate of twice weekly, on average.

What is driving this trend and what can umpires do about it (other than refusing to work Brewers plate jobs, seeing as the past three game-ending head injuries over the past week have occurred during games featuring Milwaukee)?

Are umpires really getting hurt more often in 2019? The short answer is "yes." Game-ending head injuries for the first 19 days of the 2019 regular season, as of April 15, sit at five (roughly once every four days).
Related PostInjury Scout - Kulpa Out as Brewers Cross Up Again (4/15/19).
Related PostInjury Scout - Brian Knight Leaves After Foul to Mask (4/12/19).
Related PostInjury Scout - Hallion Out in Anaheim After Hit to Head (4/9/19).
Related PostInjury Scout - Jerry Layne Exits After Two Head Hits (4/1/19).
Related PostInjury Scout - Scott Barry Hit by Fastball Late in LA (3/29/19).

In 2018, after Mike Everitt was concussed on Opening Day (March 31), the next injury did not occur until three weeks later, when Jerry Layne left a game due to an arm injury on April 19. It took until May 15—one-and-a-half months following Everitt's season-ending head injury—for another umpire to suffer a game-ending head injury (Fieldin Culbreth, May 15).
Related PostInjury Scout - Fieldin Culbreth Departs on Foul to Jaw (5/15/18).
Related PostInjury Scout - Everitt Concussed on Pitch to Head (3/31/18).

Why? When it comes to addressing possible reasons for this trend, we could cite positioning issues (see following section) or injury-prone histories, but it appears we've had a few unpreventable head traumas this young season. For instance, when Ron Kulpa was knocked by a pitch that eluded his catcher, the primary cause was simple: the catcher and pitcher weren't on the same page, and the umpire bore the brunt of it. One UEFL'er even posited that cross-ups could be a byproduct of teams' reluctance to utilize their limited mound visits.

Positioning: Taking care to work the slot—roughly between the catcher and batter, as opposed to directly above the catcher, etc.—may lessen the likelihood of being struck, and thus injured, by a wild pitch or foul ball, but staying in the slot alone isn't a 100% guarantee that a plate umpire won't be hit by a ball.

That said, it's always a good idea for a plate umpire to review plate work positioning guides such as the one pictured to the right. Green = good and red = bad.

Addressing a Head Injury: If a head injury occurs, follow concussion protocol by acknowledging the injury and seeking on-field evaluation if possible. If you experience symptoms—including mental fogginess/being in a daze, confusion, headache, balance problems, amnesia, numbness, and/or loss of consciousness—exit the game immediately and seek medical attention. Your medical professional will be able to advise you on further issues, such as care, recovery, and when to return. For more information, see the following from Ump-Attire.
Related LinkContusions and Concussions - An Umpire's Most Common Injuries

Headgear: We called in our friends at Ump-Attire as experts when it comes to selecting and maintaining plate headgear. Whether it's a traditional facemask or hockey-style mask (HSM)—Wilson to Force 3 and beyond—refer to this three-part video series from Ump-Attire's Scott Kennedy for an idea on masks. Video as follows: