Friday, October 21, 2016

2016 World Series Umpires Features Retiring Hirschbeck

Here are the 2016 World Series umpires, with retiring umpire John Hirschbeck serving as Crew Chief amongst a crew containing four first-time Fall Classic umpires. These postseason umpires are listed by position as appearing in Game 1 of the World Series. Umpire crew rotation for the best-of-seven World Series is clockwise in the infield and counterclockwise in the outfield. The Replay Official joins the on-field crew for Game 3 and remains with the on-field crew for the remainder of the series. Game 1's home plate umpire becomes the Replay Official for Games 3, and beyond.

World Series Crew (WS / Chicago Cubs (NL Champion) vs Cleveland Indians (AL Champion)
HP: Larry Vanover*^ (Replay Official for Games 3+) (1st World Series)
1B: Chris Guccione^ (1st World Series)
2B: John Hirschbeck* -cc (5th World Series [1995, 2006, 10, 13])
3B: Marvin Hudson^ (1st World Series)
LF: Tony Randazzo^ (1st World Series)
RF: Joe West* (6th World Series [1992, 97, 2005, 09 12])
WS Replay Official: Sam Holbrook (Games 1-2, On-Field for 3+) (2nd World Series [2010])

World Series Series Replay Assistant (MLBAM): Todd Tichenor

As for crews of origin, Hirschbeck is the only member of his regular season crew to advance to the 2016 Fall Classic. Guccione and Vanover are from the Vanover crew, Holbrook represents Gerry Davis' crew, Hudson is from Jim Joyce's crew, Randazzo is the #2 on Bill Miller's crew, and West is the only member of his crew to officiate the 2016 World Series. Vanover and Hudson worked with Hirschbeck during the 2016 NLDS, while Guccione served on Jeff Kellogg's NLDS crew, Randazzo worked under his regular season crew chief Miller in the ALDS, and Holbrook worked with West on the ALDS Wild Card crew.

Hirschbeck's first and last World Series assignments (1995, 2016) both feature the local Cleveland Indians. He recalled that in October of '95, trash collectors in his Ohio neighborhood left him a piece of soiled cardboard wishing him good luck: "P.S....'Lofton likes to steal third base.'" When Lofton ended up trying to steal third base in that first game, 3B Umpire Hirschbeck was in great position to make the call: "I credit my trash men for the keen advice," Hirschbeck said.

Hirschbeck gave an early exit interview to his hometown Vindicator, which also provided the World Series crew. The crew has not yet been officially announced by Major League Baseball and is presented as public source information (see the CCS Best Practices).

-cc denotes Game/Series Crew Chief, * denotes regular season Crew Chief, BOLD TEXT denotes first postseason assignment, ^ denotes first assignment for that specific round of the playoffs. Per UEFL Rule 4-3-c, all umpires selected to appear in the Wild Card games shall receive one bonus point for this appearance. Umpires assigned to the Division Series shall receive two bonus points for this appearance. Umpires assigned to the League Championship Series receive three bonus points for this appearance and umpires assigned to the World Series receive four bonus points for this appearance. Umpires assigned as Crew Chief to any round shall receive one additional bonus point for this role (e.g., two points total for the Wild Card Game, three points total for Division Series, etc.). Officials assigned to replay review only do not receive points for this role.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Discussion of 2016 AL and NL Championship Series

Discussion for the postseason's American and National League Championship Series is now open. Notes include home plate umpire performance according to pitch f/x and UEFL Rules 6-2-b-a (horizontal bound, "Kulpa Rule") and 6-2-b-b (vertical strike zone, "Miller Rule"). Plays include significant plays and instant replay reviews, if such plays occur. Call +/- also included/highlighted.

- 10/14, TOR@CLE Gm 1: Laz Diaz: pfx (68/71 Balls + 45/53 Strikes = 113/124 = 91.1%) +3 CLE.

- 10/15, TOR@CLE Gm 2: Jim Wolf: pfx (94/95 Balls + 47/48 Strikes = 141/143 = 98.6%) +2 CLE.
- 10/15, LAD@CHC Gm 1: Paul Nauert: pfx (96/100 Balls + 37/42 Strikes = 133/142 = 93.7%) +3 LA.

- 10/16, LAD@CHC Gm 2: Eric Cooper: pfx (85/88 Balls + 41/45 Strikes = 126/133 = 94.7%) +5 LA.

- 10/17, CLE@TOR Gm 3: Brian Gorman: pfx (106/113 Balls + 52/58 Strikes = 158/171 = 92.4%) +5 TOR.

- 10/18, CLE@TOR, Gm 4: Jim Reynolds: pfx (100/103 Balls + 46/50 Strikes = 146/153 = 95.4%) +1 CLE.
- 10/18, CHC@LAD Gm 3: Gary Cederstrom: pfx (93/96 Balls + 49/57 Strikes = 142/153 = 92.8%) +3 LA.

- 10/19, CLE@TOR, Gm 5: Mike Everitt: pfx (72/73 Balls + 37/42 Strikes = 109/115 = 94.8%) +4 TOR.
Series Complete (ALCS CLE Over TOR 4-1), 94.5%, 667/706, Net Skew: +3 TOR.
- 10/19, CHC@LAD, Gm 4: Angel Hernandez: pfx (119/123 Balls + 46/49 Strikes =165/172= 95.9%) +3 LA.

- 10/20, CHC@LAD, Gm 5: Alfonso Marquez: pfx (121/127 Balls + 37/40 Strikes = 158/167 = 94.6%) +1 CHC.

- 10/22 LAD@CHC Gm 6: Ted Barrett: pfx (66/68 Balls + 35/41 Strikes = 101/109 = 92.7%) +2 LAD.
Series Complete (NLCS CHC Over LAD 4-2), 94.2%, 825/876, Net Skew: +15 LAD.

NOTE: The highest plate score during the 2015 League Championship Series was Paul Emmel's 98.5% (NLCS Game 4). The highest plate score overall during the 2015 Postseason was Paul Emmel's 98.5% (NLCS Game 4).

Instant Replay Reviews (R-QOC Colors: Green [Confirmed], Yellow [Stands], Red [Overturned]):
NLCS 1) 1B Umpire Eric Cooper's out call is overturned on the backend of an attempted double play
ALCS 3) 2B Umpire Mike Everitt's safe call stands on Pillar's stolen base attempt in the 7th
ALCS 3) 2B Umpire Mike Everitt's safe call is overturned on Lindor's steal of second base
NLCS 3) 1B Umpire Angel Hernandez's safe call of Coghlan is overturned and LA gets the out
ALCS 5) 1B Umpire Jeff Nelson's out call is confirmed on Toronto's attempted pulled foot challenge
NLCS 4) HP Umpire Angel Hernandez's out call stands on play at the plate with a diving Gonzalez
NLCS 4) 1B Umpire Alfonso Marquez's out call is overturned to load the bases for Chicago
NLCS 5) 3B Umpire Eric Cooper's out call is overturned, as Howie Kendrick steals third base
NLCS 5) 1B Umpire Ted Barrett's safe call is overturned as Baez throws out A-Gon at first
NLCS 5) 1B Umpire Ted Barrett's safe call is confirmed as Kris Bryant hits an infield RBI single
NLCS 5) 2B Umpire Bill Welke's out call is overturned on backend of tag up play at second
NOTE: There were 8 Replay Reviews during the 2015 Championship Series (5/8 Affirmed = .625 RAP).
2016 AL and NL Championship Series Totals: 2 Confirmed, 2 Stands, 7 Overturned. 4/11 = .364 RAP.

Other Notable Plays (QOC: Green [Correct]Yellow [Irrecusable/Inconclusive]Red [Incorrect]):
- Baez lets weak liner fall to start the inning-ending double play and avoid an intentional drop

Out or Safe? Call Stands Due to Home Lack of Evidence

When Replay Official Paul Nauert upheld HP Umpire Angel Hernandez's out call on Adrian Gonzalez at home plate, he ruled that the video was inconclusive: it did not convincingly confirm that baserunner Gonzalez was out, but it did not clearly prove that he was safe, either. Welcome to "call stands," Replay Review's safety valve.

This angle hides the glove and is inconclusive.
Whenever a controversial play like this comes up, it's helpful to put it into context. As of Wednesday's NLCS Game 4, including the Gonzalez play at the plate, we have logged 1,492 replays during the 2016 regular and postseasons: in other words, a sufficient sample size with which to work with three Replay Review outcome classifications:
Confirmed: Video and/or audio evidence was sufficient to verify the on-field ruling as correct.
Stands: Evidence failed to clearly and convincingly suggest the call was correct or incorrect.
Overturned: Evidence clearly and convincingly suggested the on-field ruling was incorrect.

Over the course of the 2016 regular season, approximately 26% of all replay outcomes were "Call Stands," compared to 23% confirmed and 51% overturned. "Stands" is nothing new: this is but one of hundreds.

There are a few potential touches to consider.
In July 2016, Replay Review overturns outnumbered uphelds (confirmed + stands) for the first time in expanded replay history, several years after MLB first stated that Replay Review's purpose was to correct the "obvious miss...Replay Review was never designed to be used for the bang-bang play."

As written back in July, "From the very beginning, Replay Affirmation Percentage (RAP) was designed to be a low number." Even 49% (26% Stands + 23% Confirmed) is too high. 23% Confirmed, itself, is too high.

This angle similarly is obstructed and unclear.
The issue also came up in the Spring of 2015: "The sure thing of overturning an 'obvious miss' turned into somewhat of a coin flip because teams simply didn’t use the new technology correctly, perhaps because video coordinators, bench coaches and/or managers—notably those in Toronto, Tampa Bay, and the other 'lower half' teams [TOR & TB had low rates of success in challenging calls]—didn’t know what to look for, didn’t know the rules, or simply were unable to think like an umpire."

So let's flip the page and talk about Game 4 of the NLCS and Angel Hernandez ruling Adrian Gonzalez out on a close play at home plate. (Quick recap: Dodgers batter Andrew Toles hit a line drive to right field, fielded on a bounce by Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward, who threw to catcher Willson Contreras as Dodgers baserunner R2 Adrian Gonzalez slid into home plate.)

As the following analysis will indicate, Adrian Gonzalez in his post-game comments got it 100% right when he said, "Unfortunately, this turned into a trial and there was not enough evidence."

At this point, no one has touched anything.
Reviewing the tape, several angles (including those portrayed above, as well as the low home cam) appeared entirely inconclusive, obstructed, or otherwise unhelpful.

Meanwhile, the high right field foul angle (pictured to the left) is inconclusive, but potentially helpful: Although two consecutive frames on this camera conclusively feature neither Gonzalez nor Contreras touching anything of relevance (first frame) and both players touching the plate or the player, as applicable (second frame), this angle does suggest that Contreras did not tag Gonzalez's left arm, which is suggested by the reverse left field line camera angle, pictured above.

This angle turns out to be inconclusive, too.
Thus, if Contreras did not tag Gonzalez's left arm, the sole focus is on his tag of Gonzalez's chin and jaw, relative to Gonzalez's left hand touching home plate. Replays, however, indicate that as Gonzalez lunges towards home plate, his left palm contacts the dirt such that the fingers of his left hand initially pass over top of home plate, without actually touching it (see the still image, below, for a demonstration as to the upward angle of Gonzalez's fingers). At some point, these fingers fall and touch the plate, but when that occurs, it is unclear whether Contreras' glove/catcher's mitt is making contact with Gonzalez's beard.
This still photo suggests upward fingers.
PHOTO: Getty Images, CBS

Accordingly, this bang-bang play, which is anything but the type of "obvious miss" Replay Review was initially installed to correct, receives a "Call Stands" ruling by Replay Official Paul Nauert, because the aforementioned replay angles—including the combination of the high right field foul angle and the low reverse left foul line angle—do not clearly and convincingly show fingers on home plate with no tag having been made, nor do they clearly and convincingly show a mitt on the jaw with no touch of home plate having been made.

Thanks to Replay Review, this "game of inches" has turned into a "game of millimeters." [Video via "read more"]