Friday, September 2, 2016

MLB Ejection 149 - Bill Miller (5; Dave Magadan)

HP Umpire Bill Miller ejected Diamondbacks Hitting Coach Dave Magadan for arguing a check swing (strike three) call at the conclusion of the top of the 9th inning of the Diamondbacks-Rockies game. With two out and none on, Diamondbacks batter Yasmani Tomas attempted to check his swing on a 3-2 slider from Rockies pitcher Adam Ottavino. Ruling was reviewed and affirmed by the UEFL Appeals Board (6-0-2), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Rockies had won the contest, 14-7.

This is Bill Miller (26)'s fifth ejection of the 2016 MLB regular season.
Bill Miller now has ? points in UEFL Standings (11 Previous + 2 MLB + ? Call = ?).
Crew Chief Bill Miller now has ? points in Crew Division (4 Previous + ? Call = ?).

This is the 149th ejection report of the 2016 regular season.
This is Arizona's 5th ejection of 2016, T-1st in the NL West (ARI, COL 5; LAD, SF 4; SD 3).
This is Dave Magadan's first ejection since September 19, 2011 (Mike Winters; QOC = U [Fair/Foul]).
This is Bill Miller's first ejection since August 12, 2016 (Craig Counsell; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies, 9/2/16 | Video available via "Read more"

MLB Ejection 148 - Mark Ripperger (3; Perry Hill)

1B Umpire Mark Ripperger ejected Marlins 1B Coach Perry Hill for arguing a check swing (ball four) call by 3B Umpire Andy Fletcher which occurred in the bottom of the 1st inning of the Marlins-Indians game [Hill's ejection occurred in the top of the 9th inning]. In the 1st, with none out and one on, Indians batter Jason Kipnis attempted to check his swing on a 3-2 fastball from Marlins pitcher Andrew Cashner, ruled "no swing" by U3 Fletcher on appeal from HP Umpire Nic Lentz.* Ruling was reviewed and deferred by the UEFL Appeals Board (0-3-5), the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Indians were leading, 6-2. The Indians ultimately won the contest, 6-2.

This is Mark Ripperger (90)'s third ejection of the 2016 MLB regular season.
Mark Ripperger now has 7 points in UEFL Standings (5 Previous + 2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable = 7).
Crew Chief Joe West now has 7 points in Crew Division (6 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 7).
*Reason for ejection was surmised from Mattingly's post-game comments to reporters.

This is the 148th ejection report of the 2016 regular season.
This is Miami's 7th ejection of 2016, T-1st in the NL East (ATL, MIA 7; NYM 5; WAS 4; PHI 1).
This is Perry Hill's first ejection since June 9, 2009 (Doug Eddings; QOC = Y [Out/Safe]).
This is Mark Ripperger's first ejection since June 7, 2016 (Chip Hale; QOC = Y [HBP/Foul]).

Wrap: Miami Marlins vs. Cincinnati Reds, 9/2/16 | Video available via "Read more"

UEFL's MLB Umpire Sabermetrics Update - August 2016

MLB Umpire Sabermetrics through August feature 147 ejections and 1,206 Replay Reviews through 1,987 games played.

We presently expect 180 ejections this season, and 1,475 Replay Reviews. As previously noted, ejections dropped off after the Joe Torre memo, but so too did Replay Reviews. After overturned Replays outnumbered affirmed rulings for the first time in MLB history, the trend not only continued, but accelerated in pace: overturned calls now make up over 51% of all Replay Reviews.

Summary, Ejections.
>> 147 Total Regular Season Ejections through August 31, 2016 (on pace for 180 ejections this season).
>> Umpires were 62.0% accurate on calls associated with ejection.
>> The Blue Jays were ejected more often than any other team.
>> Manager John Gibbons of the Toronto Blue Jays continued to lead all managers in ejections.
>> Player Yunel Escobar of the LA Angels continued to lead all players in ejections.
>> Umpires Dale Scott and Mike Everitt led all umpires in ejections.
>> Chief Dale Scott's crew led all umpire crews in ejections.
>> Most ejections occurred in the 8th inning; Ejections from 7th and on comprised 46% of all tosses.
>> Most ejections occurred on Saturdays & Sundays. Weekend series (Fri-Sun) featured 53% of all heave-ho's.
>> The most common reason for ejection was Balls/Strikes, followed by Throwing At.
>> All else equal, a team tied at the time of ejection ended up winning the game 84% of the time.

Summary, Replay Reviews.
>> 1206 Total Replay Reviews, of which calls were affirmed 48.6% of the time (51.4% overturned).
>> The Miami Marlins used replay more than any other team, and beat the league average.
>> The Kansas City Royals continued to be the League's most successful team in review.
>> The Minnesota Twins experienced fewer reviews than any other team, and were fairly successful.
>> The Washington Nationals continued to be the worst MLB team in terms of Replay success.
>> Umpire Dan Iassogna had a league-leading 26 calls reviewed, and was fairly inaccurate.
>> Jeff Nelson's crew led all of baseball in replay activity, and performed at about the league average.
>> Umpire Quinn Wolcott led the league in accuracy with most of his calls affirmed by replay.
>> Umpire Toby Basner experienced the highest rate of his calls being overturned by replay.
>> The 7th inning had more reviews than any other inning. 41% of all reviews occurred from 7th-on.
>> Most reviews occurred on Sundays; Calls were most often overturned in daytime conditions.
>> The most common reason for review was Out/Safe, followed by Pulled Foot and HBP/No HBP.

For detailed sabermetric analysis of MLB umpire ejections and instant replay review outcomes, follow the "read more" link below.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Ask the UEFL - What Happens After UIC Gets Hurt?

When a home plate umpire is injured and leaves the game, who replaces him? And what happens to the injured umpire after he gets removed from the contest?

When an umpire leaves, the questions begin.
This question found its way to the UEFL mailbox after Jerry Layne's game-ending head injury Wednesday in Baltimore, when 2B Umpire Alan Porter replaced Layne behind the plate for the remainder of that day's game.

Answer: Subject to Crew Chief discretion, the second base umpire shall replace an injured plate umpire (MLB Umpire Manual VI). If the injury occurs before the game is official, this umpire's next game assignment will be at third base. If the injury occurs after the game is official, this umpire's next assignment will be at first base.

The injury's extent dictates response protocol.
As for the injured umpire, the extent of the injury shall govern the return-to-play procedure. For instance, if a "simple" illness such as a common cold or dust-in-eye is to blame, the umpire generally returns when the illness has passed. If the injury is more complex—a muscle sprain or tear, or the more serious head trauma behind home plate—certain protocols from the Commissioner's Office and Umpire Medical Services must be followed, including but not limited to the head injury/concussion procedure that may include a stint on the 7-day concussion list in addition to a battery of tests before the Director of Umpire Medical Services will clear the umpire for return-to-play. The injured umpire may not even leave the assigned city in which he sustained his injury until he is cleared to travel by the Commissioner's Office. In order for an umpire to receive clearance to return to work, the umpire must be capable of working home plate, even though he will generally not work the plate on his first game back. In the event of significant injury-related time off, an umpire may first be assigned to the minor leagues for rehabilitation.

Some injuries are clearly less severe.
Whereas the Crew Chief specifies an umpire's position in the rotation when a new umpire joins the crew—subject to certain restrictions—the Director of Umpire Medical Services and Commissioner's Office specify where in the rotation a returning ill/injured umpire will be placed.

Looking through the game-ending injury log for plate umpires in the majors over the course of the 2016 season, we see that of the 14 instances in which a plate umpire has left during the pendency of a game, he has been replaced:
> 6 times by the 2B Umpire (43%).
> 5 times by the 1B Umpire (36%).
> 3 times by the 3B Umpire (21%).

The answer seems somewhat consistent with the MLBUM guideline, as second base umpires have gone behind the plate more often than any one of the other positions have, but it happened that way in less than half of the injury cases in 2016. As the U2-to-UIC guideline is subject to Crew Chief discretion, we can observe this protocol by crew.

Other injuries require more extensive care.
For instance, Jerry Layne's crew has suffered three game-ending plate umpire injuries this season (6/27 Layne8/15 Wendelstedt; 8/31 Layne), and in all three cases, the second base umpire has replaced the departing plate umpire.

On the other hand, Dale Scott's crew has seen two such injuries (6/19 Scott; 7/16 Scott), resulting in the first base umpire filling in behind home plate on both occasions.

Some crew chiefs may opt to maintain the integrity of the rotational order by having the 1B Umpire move to home plate if the injury occurs early in the game (e.g., 5/26 Guccione [1st inning]; 7/16 Scott [1st]; 5/23 Nelson [3rd]; 7/15 Fairchild [1st]). Similarly, some may choose to preserve the alignment if the injury occurs extraordinarily late in the game by having the 3B Umpire work home plate for the final moments (e.g., 6/23 Emmel [9th, 2 outs; the game ended on the very next pitch]).

Second base is left vacant in a three-person alignment.
Second base offers a few distinct advantages: Neither the first nor third base umpire has to actually change positions as a result of switching to three-person mechanics. In other words, if the first base umpire is in a rhythm calling plays at first base, he, for the most part, will continue to fulfill that role uninhibited.

The second base umpire will also have a full day off between plate games, even if it is only one day: If either a first or third base umpire works the plate, that usually will be a consecutive plate day, unless the crew/that umpire has a day off immediately before or after the game.

A call-up's first game will be on the bases.
Another variable to keep in mind relates to MLB's vacation schedule and umpires joining a new crew. For instance, a Triple-A umpire who is called up will not be assigned to work the plate for that first game (The MLB Umpire Manual forbids it), and instead will be placed at second or third base. Similarly, a Major League umpire switching crews may (1) not have plate gear, or (2) have recently worked a plate game. If any such umpire is assigned to second base during a game in which the plate umpire becomes injured, such a second base umpire may not be equipped to move behind home plate.

Finally, some base umpires—especially new-to-crew umps and during the first or last game of a series—might not even have their plate gear with them. See this article about travel delays and CB Bucknor wearing street clothes during an MLB game for more information.

In all, there is much to consider when assigning a replacement plate umpire during a live game, and although MLBUM suggests the second base umpire, there are a handful of extenuating circumstances that can have an impact on the Crew Chief's decision.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Injury - 94-mph Fastball Misses Spot, Hits Jerry Layne

Umpire Jerry Layne took a fastball to the mask on a near-direct shot after catcher Russell Martin was unable to corral an elevated pitch, prompting the veteran crew chief to depart Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Wednesday evening. It is Layne's second game-ending head injury of the season.

HP Ump Jerry Layne is examined after his hit.
With one out in the bottom of the 3rd inning of the Blue Jays-Orioles game, Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez threw a 94-mph fastball up and over the plate, where it was deflected by catcher Martin directly into the center of HP Umpire Layne's traditional-style facemask.

Pursuant to protocol related to head trauma and potential concussion, Layne was replaced for the remainder of the contest behind the plate by 2B Umpire Alan Porter with acting crew chief Hunter Wendelstedt and Scott Barry holding their positions at first and third base, respectively.

Layne most recently was forced to leave a game due to a pitched or batted ball to the facemask on June 27, 2016—just one month prior to the present headshot—when a fouled-off 92-mph fastball struck Layne in the right jaw. Layne also suffered a pitched ball deflection from the catcher on April 15, 2015, when Francisco Cervelli was unable to handle a 3-2 fastball.

MLB Ejection 147 - Todd Tichenor (4; Arquímedes Caminero)

HP Umpire Todd Tichenor ejected Mariners P Arquimedes Caminero for throwing at Rangers batter Elvis Andurs in the bottom of the 7th inning of the Mariners-Rangers game. With one out and none on, Andrus took a 3-1 fastball for a hit-by-pitch. Replays indicate the pitch was located inside and struck Andrus on the upper left ribs (px -2.765, pz 4.196) two batters after a two-run HR and after Andrus previously ran into Mariners first baseman Dae-Ho Lee during a 2nd inning groundout (when the score was 0-0); all four balls during the at-bat had been thrown inside (Balls 1-3 px values: -1.921, -1.325, -1.295), the call was irrecusable. At the time of the ejection, the Rangers were leading, 10-0. The Rangers ultimately won the contest, 14-1.

This is Todd Tichenor (13)'s fourth ejection of the 2016 MLB regular season.
Todd Tichenor now has 3 points in UEFL Standings (1 Previous + 2 MLB + 0 Irrecusable Call = 3).
Crew Chief Gerry Davis now has -1 points in Crew Division (-2 Previous + 1 Irrecusable Call = -1).

This is the 147th ejection report of the 2016 regular season.
This is 70th player ejection of 2016. Prior to ejection, Caminero's line was 1.2 IP, 2 ER, HR, HBP.
This is Seattle's 2nd ejection of 2016, 5th in the AL West (HOU 6; LAA, OAK 5; TEX 4; SEA 2).
This is Arquimedes Caminero's 2nd ejection of 2016; May 24 (Larry Vanover; QOC = U [Throwing At]).
This is Todd Tichenor's first ejection since August 18, 2016 (Dale Sveum; QOC = N [Interference]).

Wrap: Seattle Mariners vs. Texas Rangers, 8/31/16 | Video available via "Read more"

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dude, What Happened Last Night? About Pitch f/x Error

Pitch f/x suffered a major malfunction at the wrong time—an ejection—Monday night in Kansas City. Whether due to the triangulation technology itself or due to Pitch f/x operator error (the more likely culprit), Brian O'Nora's ejection of Joe Girardi on Monday received an "incorrect" Quality of Correctness during the game, based on the "live" Pitch f/x numbers, only for QOC to be reversed to "correct" based on the overnight "revised" PFX figures. Just imagine if YES Network had actually shown the computerized strike box.
Pitch #2, as reported by BrooksBaseball, and called "live."

To recap, the initial or "live" ejection report featured Yankees batter Didi Gregorius taking a 0-1 slider from Royals pitcher Chris Young for a called second strike. Its px value was 1.222 and its pz was .907 with a sz_bot of 1.570. In other words, the ball was horizontally over a foot to the right of the center of home plate (meaning, to the left-handed Gregorius, it was inside), and it vertically was less than a foot off the ground, or about eight inches below Gregorius' knee hollow. In the diagram to the right from, this pitch is represented by the red square indicated as "2" (with the orange arrow pointing to it).

Pitch #2, shown in Gameday's plot after revision overnight.
However, the overnight or "revised" pitch tracking from Pitch f/x on MLB Gameday made the following changes to the initial report (changes are indicated in bold): Gregorius now took a 0-1 fastball from Young whose px value was .456 and pz was 1.675 with a sz_bot of 1.62. Thus, the pitch type changed from slider to fastball, the horizontal location was now over the inner half of home plate instead of in the lefty's batter's box, and the vertical location was 2/3 of an inch above the bottom of the strike zone. It's almost as if it was an entirely different pitch.

To explain how this happened necessitates the understanding of a key fact in today's computerized system known as pitch f/x: PFX is subject to several types of error, including operator error.

Sorry Joe, Brian was right all along.
I'll leave you with the post-mortem report: the "live" graph only has six pitches whereas the "overnight" graph has seven. Similarly, "live" pitch #2 looks awfully similar to "overnight" pitch #3, "live" #3 looks like "overnight" #4, and so on until "live" #6 and "overnight" #7. At the other end of the spectrum, notice that "live" #1 corresponds fairly well with "overnight" #2 and that there is no "live" pitch to go alongside "overnight" #1. Long story short, this is a missed pitch error. Read on to read about other potential causes of pitch f/x error and where a missed pitch may come from:

Calibration Error: With any triangulated system—or any system that provides a measurement for that matter—the device must be calibrated before use. With Pitch f/x, the capturing devices must work together to provide a fairly depiction of a ball's location, for instance, as it arrives at the front edge of home plate. If a Pitch f/x device is not calibrated properly, its measurements for the entire game may be erroneous, yet consistent batter-to-batter (more info here). PitchInfo/BrooksBaseball, for instance, advertises the ability to correct for the consistent error that is due to calibration problems. Thus, had last night's event been due to calibration error, one would surmise that Brooks would have picked up on it and corrected for it (Brooks didn't). Likewise, the error would have been consistent from pitch to pitch (it wasn't).

Measurement/Capture Error: Classification error may be considered a subset of measurement error, but for the purpose of this discussion, measurement error is distinct from calibration error in that measurement error is not necessarily consistent from pitch-to-pitch (while calibration error, for the most part, is consistent from pitch to pitch). Recall that pitch f/x provides a px value and a pz value, both of which are exact data points; however, the baseball is a sphere with a certain volume and a diameter of approximately 2.9 to three inches. Thus, it's important to note that pitch f/x is able to do its job by capturing only the center point of the baseball. As such, measurement error results when the camera has trouble finding the exact center of the baseball from the captured image: a blurry ball, an odd shadow, humidity, wind, or other discoloration can hamper the technology's ability to accurately provide location information.

Fitting or Modeling Error: Since pitch f/x captures multiple position measurements based on the ball's flight during the pitch, it uses a best fitting algorithm to place the ball at the front edge of home plate. If the camera is having trouble picking up the ball (see measurement error) or following it, or if an outlier data point appears, it may improperly model the pitch location at home plate's front edge.

2D Strike Zone: This is not so much a bona fide error as a pitfall of the present PFX technology and its method of reporting the pitch's location as it reaches the front edge of home plate. The strike zone is obviously three-dimensional and the front edge-reported px and pz values do nothing to measure the zone's depth. Best fitting algorithms can predict the ball's flight through a 3D zone, though this is subject to modeling error.

Pitch Classification Error: MLBAM's Ross Paul first developed an algorithm to mathematically determine pitch type over five years ago. The reason this discussion is brought up is because the initial classification of slider changed overnight to fastball, meaning that something changed when processing through the classification algorithm overnight. This algorithm looks at things like pitch speed versus spin axis angle, release point, movement, break, etc. So for a slider to become a fastball means that some variable other than simply the location at home plate's front edge also changed.

Operator Error: This could apply to either the Pitch f/x operator or Gameday operator (stats stringer). Among the pitch f/x operator's tasks is to set the strike zone for each batter, or for each pitch. If the operator incorrectly indicates or allows the cameras to incorrectly locate the batter's knee hollow or upper midpoint, sz_bot and/or sz_top will be incorrect. The stats stringer logs and reports each pitch and game event in MLBAM's Gameday system. If the stringer misses a pitch or misreports an event (e.g., attributes Pitch #1's qualities to Pitch #2 or vice versa), this could have a cascading effect on future pitches, resulting in multiple errors, which is likely what happened Monday night in Kansas City.

Monday, August 29, 2016

MLB Ejection 146 - Brian O'Nora (1; Joe Girardi)

HP Umpire Brian O'Nora ejected Yankees Manager Joe Girardi for arguing a strike two call in the top of the 8th inning of the Yankees-Royals game. With two out and the bases loaded, Yankees batter Didi Gregorius took a 0-1 fastball from Royals pitcher Chris Young for a called second strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over inner half of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px .456, pz 1.675 [sz_bot 1.62]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Royals were leading, 8-1. The Royals ultimately won the contest, 8-5.

This is Brian O'Nora (7)'s first ejection of the 2016 MLB regular season.
Brian O'Nora now has 3 points in UEFL Standings (-1 Previous + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 3).
Crew Chief Jeff Kellogg now has 7 points in Crew Division (6 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 7).

This is the 146th ejection report of the 2016 regular season.
This is 57th Manager ejection of 2016.
This is New York's 2nd ejection of 2016, T-4th in the AL East (TOR 14; BOS 6; BAL 3; NYY, TB 2).
This is Joe Girard's 2nd ejection of 2016, 1st since May 5 (Chris Guccione; QOC = Y [Balk]).
This is Brian O'Nora's first ejection since September 16, 2015 (Jered Weaver; QOC = U [Throwing At]).

Wrap: New York Yankees vs. Kansas City Royals, 8/29/16 | Video available via "Read more"