Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Joe West Sets % Record in Near-Perfect Game in ALCS

MLB's senior umpire, ALCS Crew Chief Joe West, fell one pitch shy of perfection in Game 3, correctly judging 159 of 160 callable pitches for a plate accuracy score of 99.4% as Boston's Red Sox defeated Houston's Astros. West's score sets a UEFL record, as this is the first time our system has ever tracked an umpire missing just one pitch during a postseason game.

West's 99.4% plate performance was tracked as part of the Close Call Sports & Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's usual postseason discussion and analysis and is the highest UEFL-f/x score ever recorded for the postseason, defeating previous record-holder Jim Wolf's 98.8%, set during the 2018 American League Wild Card Game, when Wolf called 160 of 162 pitches correctly during New York's victory over Oakland.
Related PostDiscussion of 2018 AL and NL Championship Series (10/16/18).
Related PostDiscussion of 2018 AL and NL Wild Card Games (10/2/18).

Sidebar: For more on UEFL f/x and how we calculate umpire plate performance statistics, refer to...
Related PostUEFL f/x vs K-Zone and the Player-Umpire Disconnect (10/4/18).

As has been discussed often since pitch tracking technology was introduced to assist the umpires in identifying trends and tendencies—ultimately as an educational tool—umpires have continually been getting better at calling balls and strikes. Prior to Wolf's 98.8% (160/162) in the AL Wild Card Game, the highest postseason score recorded here was Jeff Nelson's 98.7% (147/149) during Game 5 of the 2011 ALCS.

Similar scores include 98.6%, from Game 2 of the 2016 ALCS, also by Wolf. Before that, it was Paul Emmel's 98.5% NLCS Game 4 score in 2015, which eclipsed Dan Iassogna's 98.4% earlier in the day during Game 5 of the 2015 ALCS, which outranked Greg Gibson's 98.3% during Game 5 of the 2014 NLCS, and so forth.

During this 2018 postseason, through Game 3 of the ALCS, the following umpires have performed at at least the 98% level behind home plate:

2018 Wild Card Round
AL Wild Card Game - Jim Wolf - 160/162 = 98.8%.

2018 Division Series
ALDS Game 2 - Chad Fairchild - 122/124 = 98.4%.
NLDS Game 3 - Ted Barrett - 146/148 = 98.6%.
ALDS Game 4 - Angel Hernandez - 145/148 = 98.0%.

2018 League Championship Series
NLCS Game 2 - Alan Porter - 146/149 = 98.0%.
ALCS Game 3 - Joe West - 149/150 = 99.5%. *UEFL record.

Yes, I would say that umpires are indeed getting better and have the wherewith-all to ball and strike pitches as appropriate, within the confines of the rule book, with fair play first and foremost at hand.

BY THE WAY...What was the one call that West missed anyway? It was a seventh-inning 2-0 pitch from Red Sox pitcher Ryan Brasier to Astros batter Tony Kemp, ruled strike one, and located about 1.08 horizontal inches from, as they say, perfection. Kemp ultimately lined out to Andrew Benintendi to conclude his at-bat—West was perfect for the 113 pitches prior to and the 46 following "strike one." In general, 2-0 and 3-0 pitches located near the outside edge of home plate can be particularly dangerous for umpires, who statistically are more likely to call strikes during those counts. In West's case, it was just over an inch away. That's less than half of a baseball.

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