Saturday, May 12, 2018

MLB Ejection 036 - Carlos Torres (1; Ron Gardenhire)

HP Umpire Carlos Torres ejected Tigers Manager Ron Gardenhire (strike two call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 5th inning of the Mariners-Tigers game. With two out and none on, Tigers batter James McCann took a 0-0 fastball from Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez for a called first strike and 0-1 fastball for a called second strike. Replays indicate the 0-0 pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and above the hollow of the knee (px .724, pz 1.807 [sz_bot 1.601]) while the 0-1 pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and thigh high (px .893, pz 2.018) and that all prior callable pitches in the inning were properly officiated (6/6 = 100% accuracy), the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Mariners were leading, 6-2. The Mariners ultimately won the contest, 9-5.

This is Carlos Torres (37)'s first ejection of 2018.
Carlos Torres now has 5 points in the UEFL Standings (1 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 5).
Crew Chief Kerwin Danley now has 5 points in Crew Division (4 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 5).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
*The 0-1 pitch was located 0.252 horizontal inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 36th ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 13th Manager ejection of 2018.
This is Detroit's 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st in the AL Central (DET 2; CLE, CWS 1; KC, MIN 0).
This is Ron Gardenhire's 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st since March 30 (Bill Welke; QOC = N [Replay Review]).
This is Carlos Torres' first ejection since August 24, 2017 (Brad Ausmus; QOC = U [Throwing At]).

Wrap: Seattle Mariners vs. Detroit Tigers (Doubleheader Game 2), 5/12/18 | Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 035 - Doug Eddings (2; Steven Souza)

HP Umpire Doug Eddings ejected Diamondbacks RF Steven Souza Jr. (strike three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the Nationals-D'Backs game. With two out and one on (R1), Souza took a 2-0 fastball from Nationals pitcher Shawn Kelley for a called first strike and a 3-2 fastball for a called third strike. Replays indicate the 2-0 pitch was located over the outer half of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px .389, pz 1.637) while the 3-2 pitch was located over the inner half of home plate and at the hollow of the knee (px -.449, pz 1.565 [sz_bot 1.627 / MOE 1.544]), the call was correct. At the time of the ejection, the Nationals were leading, 2-1. The Nationals ultimately won the contest, 2-1.

This is Doug Eddings (88)'s second ejection of 2018.
Doug Eddings now has 2 points in the UEFL Standings (-2 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 2).
Crew Chief Joe West now has 1 point in Crew Division (0 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 1).

This is the 35th ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 18th player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Souza Jr was 0-4 (SO) in the contest.
This is Arizona's 4th ejection of 2018, 1st in the NL West (ARI 4; COL, SD 3; LAD, SF 1).
This is Steven Souza Jr.'s first career MLB ejection.
This is Doug Eddings' 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st since April 5 (Trea Turner; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Washington Nationals vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, 5/12/18 | Video as follows:

Friday, May 11, 2018

MLB Ejection 034 - Alan Porter (2; Matt Kemp)

HP Umpire Alan Porter ejected Dodgers LF Matt Kemp (strike three call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the Reds-Dodgers game. With two out and one on (R2), Kemp took a 1-2 fastball from Reds pitcher Austin Brice for a called third strike. Replays indicate the pitch was located over the outer edge of home plate and thigh-high (px 0.813, pz 1.898 [sz_bot 1.62]), and that all other callable pitches during the at-bat were properly officiated, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the Reds were leading, 5-1. The Reds ultimately won the contest, 5-2.

This is Alan Porter (64)'s second ejection of 2018.
Alan Porter now has 9 points in the UEFL Standings (5 Prev + 2 MLB + 2 Correct Call = 9).
Crew Chief Angel Hernandez now has 1 point in Crew Division (0 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 1).
*UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule): |0| < STRIKE < |.748| < BORDERLINE < |.914| < BALL.
*This pitch was located 1.212 horizontal inches from being deemed an incorrect call.

This is the 34th ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 17th player ejection of 2018. Prior to ejection, Kemp was 0-3 (SO) in the contest.
This is Los Angeles-NL's 1st ejection of 2018, T-4th in the NL West (ARI, COL, SD 3; LAD, SF 1).
This is Matt Kemp's first ejection since June 10, 2017 (Phil Cuzzi; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Alan Porter's 2nd ejection of 2018, 1st since April 27 (Josh Bard; QOC = Y [Balls/Strikes]).

Wrap: Cincinnati Reds vs. Loss Angeles Dodgers, 5/11/18 | Video as follows:

Thursday, May 10, 2018

MLB Hires Former Player Chris Young as On-Field VP

Major League Baseball named former MLB pitcher Chris Young as Vice President of On-Field Operations, Initiatives & Strategy, under Joe Torre's direction.

Young will advise on disciplinary issues, umpire negotiations, and on-field standards such as rules compliance pertaining to baseball field dimensions, amongst other projects. He will report directly to Senior VP Peter Woodfork.

Young will also advise on pace-of-play, work with the Umpiring Operations Department to maintain on-field standards and discipline and ensure proper application of playing rules and regulations, and other issues that affect play on the field.

Klemm is MLB's highest ranked former umpire.
Photo: Enquirer/Michael Keating.
As for actual umpires in the Commissioner's Office, Justin Klemm remains the highest-positioned person with officiating experience in the Baseball Operations department, serving as Senior Director of Instant Replay. Randy Marsh and Rich Rieker follow shortly thereafter; Marsh is Director of Major League Umpires while Rieker serves as Director of Umpire Development.

MLB eliminated the position of "Vice President, Umpiring" in 2011 when the Commissioner's Office hired Joe Torre as Executive VP of Operations. As such, Mike Port, who previously served on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) and left MLB after Torre's hiring, was MLB's most recent VP of Umpires.

Coincidentally (or not), Angel Hernandez's lawsuit alleges that the MLB umpiring department started going downhill and engaging in racially-motivated discrimination in 2011.
Related PostAngel Hernandez Sues MLB for Racial Discrimination (7/3/17).

An alum of Princeton University (2002, Politics), Young, whose last regular season appearance was in 2017, was ejected just once in his 271-game career as a pitcher, for fighting, on June 16, 2007, by Mike Everitt.

Case Play 2018-3 - No Strike, No Balk, No Steal [Solved]

Prior to his ejection of John Gibbons Sunday in Tampa Bay, HP Umpire Jeremie Rehak officiated a deceptively complicated stolen base attempt of home plate, as Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile caught Rays baserunner R3 Mallex Smith stealing in front of batter CJ Cron to end the Rays' 3rd inning.

Which of these many possible calls is correct?
The Play: With two outs and one on (R3), Rays baserunner R3 Smith attempts to steal home plate on a 0-2 count as Jays pitcher Estrada delivers a pitch to catcher Maile, who jumps up from his squat and forward toward the plate in an attempt to prepare himself for the impending play on baserunner Smith. Batter Cron, sensing that Smith is stealing home, briefly begins to back out of the right-handed batter's box before quickly returning to bat as Estrada releases his 0-2 offering.

The pitch appears to be a strike—but is called a ball—which catcher Maile catches at some point as it arrives toward or beyond the front edge of home plate (and likely still over the plate itself, if it did get there) as Cron does not offer at the pitch, and backs away from the baseline between home and third. With Cron nearly out of the right-handed batter's box, Maile tags out Smith, resulting in a third out call to end the inning.

NOTE: For the purposes of this Case Play, we are stipulating that Estrada's delivery was legal from first motion through release: The actions of the pitcher on the mound are not in question. The actions of the catcher, batter, and runner...that's for you to decide.
Case Play 2018-3 Question: First, determine whether this pitch is a strike or not—what would be the call had the ball arrived at the front edge of home plate and was caught while still over a portion of home plate? And what would the call be if the catcher caught the ball before it arrived at the front edge of home plate? Second, is this catcher's interference and/or a balk? Third, is the batter guilty of interference himself (if so, who is out)? Finally, does the home plate collision/blocking rule have any bearing on this play? For the second and third parts of this question, if "strike three" would have ended the inning, assume the count on the batter prior to this pitch was 0-1.

Click here for a video solution to this play.
Case Play Answer (Click for Video Solution):By location alone, the pitch appears to be a strike...but it's not. Here's why. Thanks to StatCast, we have evidence that the ball arrived at the front of home plate, since the pitch tracking technology captures the ball's location as it arrives at the front edge. Since the pitch showed up on the tracker, we can surmise that the pitch arrived at the front of home plate and at least some part of the baseball touched some part of the strike zone, which would otherwise satisfy the definition of "STRIKE," except for a clue provided by Rule 6.02(b) Comment, which specifies what happens when a pitch that slips out of a pitcher's hand rolls toward home plate.

Official layout and diagram at home plate.
6.02(b) Comment states the pitch is a to be deemed legal (since it's rolling on the ground, it's a ball) if it crosses the foul line, but no pitch (and a balk with runners) if it fails to cross the foul line. By rule, home plate is entirely in fair territory and the intersection of the two foul lines occurs at the back point of home plate. Thus, if the ball never crosses the two intersecting sides of home plate (or the point of plate itself), it has never crossed the foul line...but this isn't the principal reason this play is a balk.
Answer, 1) This pitch isn't a strike.

The most common type of catcher's interference occurs when a batter's bat makes contact with the catcher's mitt during a full swing. The fact that this type of contact comprises nearly all instances of catcher's interference exclusively obfuscates the entirety of the rule. A pitch, being a ball delivered by a pitcher to the batter, must actually arrive at the batter so that the batter has the opportunity to choose to swing or not swing at it. If the catcher jumps the delivery and deprives the batter of this free choice, then the catcher has interfered with the batter's ability to hit the pitch.

Although it would sell the call and send a message, given baseball's recent history of bench-clearing incidents over relatively tame instances of contact, interference doesn't require the batter to club the catcher upside the head and potentially cause serious injury in order for this call to be made.
Related PostLittle Home Plate Collision Begets Wrigley Bench Clearing (5/8/18).

Another clue resides in the Official Baseball Rules' appendices, specifically the Layout at Home Base diagram. Note that the distance from the outmost points of the intersecting sides of home plate (that which signify where the foul lines separate from home plate itself) to the mouth of the catcher's box is exactly three feet. Recall that after Hunter Wendelstedt declared Andrew Benintendi out for running out of his base path to avoid a tag during Sean Manaea's no-hitter in April, Crew Chief Brian Gorman explained to reporters that the crew figured the average length of an outstretched arm is about three feet.
Related PostNo No-No? Out of Base Path Call Voids Potential Sox Hit (4/22/18).

F2 appears in front of home without the ball.
By this same token, the logic would dictate that a catcher positioned at the mouth of his box with a fully outstretched arm would reach roughly to the aforementioned base of the plate's upper rectangle. It is simply not within the spirit of the rules for the catcher to reach all the way to the front edge of home plate. Yes, the catcher may leave the box to catch a pitch, but the catcher mustn't interfere with the batter or obstruct another offensive player in doing so.

Due to the angle of the video, we cannot definitively discern whether the catcher has stepped "on or in front of home base"—though we do know the ball was not permitted to traverse the entirety of the hitting area, so we can deduce that at least some part of the catcher was on or over home plate. That on its own isn't enough (not entirely definitive on video, in any case) to satisfy 6.01(g), but it is another clue.

The batter need not swing here for an interference call to be made, but the batter must remain in the box (he does) and show he is interested in choosing between a swing and taking the pitch. Though the batter appears to briefly back away during the pitcher's delivery, he hurriedly returns to a hitting stance as the pitch is thrown and seems engaged. Because the batter does back away initially, there may be some doubt as to whether the batter was truly ready to hit. In this situation with the catcher jumping across the back edge of home plate to catch a pitch while it is still in the hitting zone, since the batter never exits the batter's box (his legal position), the benefit of the doubt must go to the batter.
Answer, 2) This is catcher's interference and a balk.

To think, John Gibbons could have been ejected earlier in this game had this call been made...
Related PostMLB Ejection 033 - Jeremie Rehak (1; John Gibbons) (5/6/18).

The home plate collision rule has nothing to do with this play, as the catcher gains possession of the ball well in advance of the runner's arrival (and also, technically, since the balk penalty would render this point moot).
Answer, 3) There is no violation for blocking the plate.

Official Baseball Rules Library
OBR 5.02(a): "The catcher shall station himself directly back of the plate. He may leave his position at any time to catch a pitch or make a play." [Gil's Note: There is an obsolete reference to IBB here.]
OBR 5.04(b)(5): "The batter’s legal position shall be with both feet within the batter’s box. APPROVED RULING: The lines defining the box are within the batter’s box."
OBR 5.05(b)(3): "The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when—the catcher or any fielder interferes with him...Comment: If a runner is trying to score by a steal or squeeze from third base, note the additional penalty set forth in Rule 6.01(g)."
OBR 6.01(g) [Interference With Squeeze Play or Steal of Home]: "If, with a runner on third base and trying to score by means of a squeeze play or a steal, the catcher or any other fielder steps on, or in front of home base without possession of the ball, or touches the batter or his bat, the pitcher shall be charged with a balk, the batter shall be awarded first base on the interference and the ball is dead."
OBR 6.02(b) Comment: "A ball which slips out of a pitcher’s hand and crosses the foul line shall be called a ball; otherwise it will be called no pitch. This would be a balk with men on base."
OBR 6.03(a)(3): "A batter is out for illegal action when—he 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."
OBR 6.03(a)(3) EXCEPTION: "Batter is not out if any runner attempting to advance is put out, or if runner trying to score is called out for batter’s interference."
OBR [Definitions]: "Offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play."
OBR [Definitions]: "Defensive interference is an act by a fielder that hinders or prevents a batter from hitting a pitch."
OBR [Definitions]: "The CATCHER’S BOX is that area within which the catcher shall stand until the pitcher delivers the ball."
OBR [Definitions]: "A PITCH is a ball delivered to the batter by the pitcher."
OBR [Definitions]: "A STRIKE is a legal pitch when so called by the umpire, not struck at, if any part of the ball passes through any part of the strike zone."
OBR [Definitions]: "The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball."

Videos as follows:

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Reds' Batting Out of Order Appeal vs Mets 1st since 2016

Interim Reds Manager Jim Riggleman exposed his Mets rookie counterpart, Mickey Callaway, for batting out of order in the 1st inning of Wednesday's game in Cincinnati. New York forfeited a runner in scoring position as the successful appeal negated Asdrubal Cabrera's double, resulting instead in Jay Bruce being declared out for his teammate's infraction of batting out of turn.

Reds called New York for batting out of turn.
This is a somewhat complex play, so we've put together a UEFL University lesson and video analysis to explain what happened (see following video).

The Play: Prior to the game, Mets Manager Callaway submitted to HP Umpire in Chief Gabe Morales, care of Bench Coach Gary DiSarcina, New York's batting order, which placed center fielder Brandon Nimmo in the first position, second baseman Cabrera batting second, third baseman Wilmer Flores batting third, right fielder Bruce batting fourth, and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez batting fifth. The lineups were then exchanged with Cincinnati.

After Nimmo led off the game with a three-pitch strikeout, number three hitter Flores stepped to the plate instead of Cabrera, similarly striking out. Following Flores' plate appearance, listed number two hitter Cabrera hit a double to left field, with Jay Bruce on deck.

Morales and Meals speak with Bruce.
The Appeal: Riggleman appealed to HP Umpire Morales that by batting after Flores, Cabrera had batted out of turn, because Flores was listed prior to Cabrera in the batting order. Bruce should have followed Flores. In short, Riggleman attested that the Mets switched their #2 and #3 hitters and that, because his appeal was on #2 hitter Cabrera's time at bat, which followed #3 hitter Flores' the proper batter should have been the #4 hitter, Bruce.

After consulting the official card, Morales declared an end to the inning with Crew Chief Jerry Meals standing by in case any support or supervision was needed.

The Rule: Batting out of turn is listed as an illegal action on the batter's part, as Rule 6.03(b)(1), and states, "A batter shall be called out, on appeal, when he fails to bat in his proper turn, and another batter completes a time at bat in his place."

So Why Wasn't Cabrera Out? Though it seems logical that Cabrera—who improperly followed Flores—committed the illegal act, the play initiates with Flores, who batted second when he should have hit third; however, when Flores struck out and the first pitch was then thrown to ensuing batter Cabrera, Flores' time at bat became legal and he no longer was an improper batter, as in 6.03(b)(5): "When an improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and a pitch is made to the next batter of either team before an appeal is made, the improper batter thereby becomes the proper batter, and the results of his time at bat become legal."

Furthermore, "The instant an improper batter’s actions are legalized, the batting order picks up with the name following that of the legalized improper batter" (6.03(b)(7)).

The order in the Mets' dugout was wrong.
Outcome: As such, Flores was now a proper batter, which meant that the player listed after Flores in the batting order—Bruce—was the batter who should have hit next: #2 hitter Cabrera was essentially passed over. Instead, Cabrera stepped to the plate, hit a double, and, pursuant to 6.03(b)(1), proper batter Bruce was declared out for failing to bat in his proper turn after Flores, and Cabrera's double was erased, as in 6.03(b)(3): "When an improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and the defensive team appeals to the umpire before the first pitch to the next batter of either team, or before any play or attempted play, the umpire shall (1) declare the proper batter out; and (2) nullify any advance or score made because of a ball batted by the improper batter or because of the improper batter’s advance to first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batter or otherwise."

Resumption of Play: Bruce's out was the third out of the inning, and the player in the batting order following Bruce—Adrian Gonzalez—led off the top of the second inning, as in 6.03(b)(6) ["When the proper batter is called out because he has failed to bat in turn, the next batter shall be the batter whose name follows that of the proper batter thus called out"]. When the top of the order came around again in the third inning, Nimmo led off, Cabrera properly batted second, Flores batted third, and Bruce hit fourth.

The official order given at the plate meeting.
Had the Mets realized Flores or Cabrera were batting out of turn during their respective at-bats, the team could have sent the correct batter to the plate to resume hitting with no penalty pursuant to Rule 6.03(b)(2): "The proper batter may take his place in the batter’s box at any time before the improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and any balls and strikes shall be counted in the proper batter's time at bat."

Had there been any runners on base, 6.03(b)(4) would apply: "If a runner advances, while the improper batter is at bat, on a stolen base, balk, wild pitch or passed ball, such advance is legal."

In 2013, Dodgers Bench Coach Trey Hillman directed Manager Don Mattingly to appeal to HP Umpire Tony Randazzo that Giants batter Buster Posey had hit a double while batting out of turn; as a result, the double was nullified and the proper batter, Pablo Sandoval, was declared out.
Related PostRule 6.07: Batting Out of Order, Timely Appeal Cost Giants (7/7/13).

In 2016, Nationals Manager Dusty Baker successfully appealed to UIC Cory Blaser that Brewers batter Ryan Braun had hit a single while batting in place of proper batter Jonathan Lucroy.
Related PostBatting Out of Turn in DC Erases Brewers Single in 1st (7/4/16).

Video as follows:

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Little Home Plate Collision Begets Wrigley Bench Clearing

Several seasons since MLB's introduction of home plate collision/blocking Rule 6.01(i), collisions between catchers and runners are virtually a thing of the past—almost.

Benches cleared at Wrigley Field on Tuesday.
Chicago Cubs catcher Victor Caratini and Miami Marlins baserunner Derek Dietrich were the center of attention in the 4th inning when the NL foes came together in one of the only situations under which a collision at home is still legal.

The Play: With one out and one on (R2), Marlins batter Lewis Bronson singled to Cubs left fielder Ben Zobrist, who threw to catcher Caratini as baserunner Dietrich approached home plate. Replays indicate Caratini fielded Zobrist's throw and stood in the baseline between home and third in order to tag Dietrich, who ran into Caratini as he stepped on home plate.

The Call: HP Umpire Will Little properly declared Dietrich out on Caratini's tag as the two players unsporting pleasantries, resulting in a bench-clearing incident; no personnel from either team were ejected.

Collision Rule for Runners: Rule 6.01(i)(1) states, "A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate), or otherwise initiate an avoidable collision," with its comment further clarifying, "If a catcher blocks the pathway of the runner, the umpire shall not find that the runner initiated an avoidable collision in violation of this Rule 6.01(i)(1)."

Caratini and Dietrich's was a legal collision.
Collision Rule for Catchers: Rule 6.01(i)(2) states, "Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score," with its comment further clarifying, "A catcher shall not be deemed to have violated Rule 6.01(i)(2) unless he has both blocked the plate without possession the ball (or when not in a legitimate attempt to field the throw), and also hindered or impeded the progress of the runner attempting to score."

SIDEBAR: Though the Rules Committee has had several years to amend 6.01(i)(2) to apply to fielders other than catchers (e.g., a pitcher who covers home plate on wild pitch/pass ball, or any other fielder making a play at home plate), this rule remains unchanged. Therefore, it is reasonable to surmise this rule only applies to catchers and not other fielders, who remain subject to the standard rules and guidelines pertaining to obstruction. We've been on this one since 2014, when MLB allowed a HP Collision review over a play in which a pitcher blocked a runner's access to home plate (the result of which confirmed that the catcher didn't violate the rule—that was the actual language of the decision, that the "catcher" didn't violate the rule).
Related PostMLB Instant Replay Review 618: Mike Everitt (04) (6/28/14).

Again, the spirit of the rule would have this restriction apply to any player covering home, but because the Rules Committee has left the language alone since 2014 and the official Interpretations Manual does not address it, a team that loses an out and prevented run due to a 6.01(i)(2) call on a player other than the catcher would have an excellent basis for protesting the game. If Baseball wants to close this protest loophole, it would be wise to issue an interpretation and/or change the language of its rule 6.01(i)(2).

Legal HP Collision: Accordingly, a collision between catcher and runner shall be legal on both accounts (both provisions (1) and (2)) if the runner maintains a direct pathway to the plate and collides with a catcher who has possession of the ball or is in the act of legitimately attempting to field the throw.

That is precisely what happened here, which makes this collision entirely legal, Little's out call correct, the bench clearing afterward much ado about nothing.

2018 No-Hitter 3, James Hoye (1; James Paxton)

HP Umpire James Hoye called Seattle Mariners pitcher James Paxton's no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays, the third of 2018. Hoye was joined for Tuesday's game at Rogers Centre by 1B Quinn Wolcott, 2B Umpire Jeff Kellogg (crew chief), and 3B Umpire Marvin Hudson.

Interesting note: Toronto Manager John Gibbons did not select a single exclusively left-handed hitter for Tuesday's 5-0 loss to Seattle. Because Paxton is a left-handed pitcher, the few switch-hitting batters in Toronto's order batted right-handed; as Toronto made zero offensive substitutions over the course of the game, this means Paxton accomplished the rare feat of throwing a no-hitter without having faced a single left-handed batter.

This is Hoye's first career MLB no-hitter, and the third in as many weeks. Earlier this season, Hunter Wendelstedt called Sean Manaea's no-hitter in Oakland and John Tumpane called a combined no-hitter in Mexico. This also means the first three no-hitters of 2018 have transpired in three different countries (United States of America, Mexico, Canada).
Related Post2018 No-Hitter 1, Hunter Wendelstedt (1; Sean Manaea) (4/21/18).
Related Post2018 No-Hitter 2, John Tumpane (2; Buehler & Co) (5/4/18).

Hoye received 49 callable pitches from Paxton, a total of 35 balls and 14 called strikes. The look:

Balls: 32 called balls outside of strike zone / 3 called balls within strike zone = 32/35 = 91.4% Accuracy.
Strikes: 14 called strikes inside strike zone / 0 called strikes outside strike zone = 14/14 = 100.0% Accuracy.
Total Raw Accuracy Score for Paxton = 46/49 = 93.8% Accuracy (+3 TOR [Favored Toronto]).
Overall Game Score: 89/93 Balls + 34/37 Strikes = 123/130 = 94.6%. +5 TOR. Plots via "Read More"

Monday, May 7, 2018

Analysis - Catching Up With Todd Frazier 5 Days Later

It's been five days since Mets 3B Todd Frazier criticized major league umpires by stating, "they’ve got to get better," adding his belief that an umpire who misses a ball or strike call isn't being held accountable: "We’ve got to hit, too, as well, but we don’t want to be put in a hole every day of the week." Frazier specifically referenced the past "five or six games" as the period of greatest aggravation.

Returning a report on Frazier v MLB Umps.
In response, Close Call Sports convened an analysis of the aforementioned six games immediately preceding Frazier's complaint—Thursday, April 26 through Wednesday, May 2. Our analysis found that although Frazier was the recipient of two incorrect called strikes during Wednesday, May 2nd's game (immediately after which Frazier made his "they've got to get better" post-game comments), umpires were just two pitches short of perfection in the five games prior. Furthermore, none of the four total misses over the six-game span resulted in a strikeout, while one missed call actually saved Frazier from striking out.

In sum, umpires were 93.8% (61/65) over the five-game period, or 95.3% (61/64) if one were to throw out the missed ball call that kept Frazier's plate appearance going on Thursday, April 26.
Related PostTodd Frazier - "These Umpires Have Got to Get Better" (5/3/18).

These numbers suggest a struggling hitter.
The purpose of this follow-up report is simple: to check how Frazier has fared over the five days since his complaint, and to see if the umpires have changed how they officiate his strike zone at all over that same span—or at the least, see if their cumulative accuracy has changed.

Frazier's Performance: Frazier did not play during the Mets' 11-0 loss to Atlanta on Thursday, May 3, but did appear in each of the team's ensuing four games.

On Friday, Frazier was 2-5 (Mets L to Colorado, 8-7).
On Saturday, Frazier went 0-3 (BB, SO) (Mets L, 2-0).
On Sunday, Frazier similarly finished 0-3 (SO) (Mets L 3-2).
On Monday, Frazier was 0-5 (2 SO) (NYM W 7-6 over CIN).

This amounts to a 2-for-16 showing, or .125 batting average, over these four games.

Umpires' Performance: Umpires missed no more than one pitch per day to Frazier over these four games.

On Friday, Bruce Dreckman went 11-for-12 (92%) during Frazier's five at-bats. The miss? A ball in the zone.
On Saturday, Mike Estabrook was 8-for-9 (89%). The miss? Also a ball in the strike zone.
On Sunday, Eric Cooper went 9-for-10 (90%) to Frazier. He called a first-pitch strike out of the zone.
On Monday, Ron Kulpa called Frazier's hitless day at a 15-for-15 (100%) accuracy level.

Adding it up, umpires were 43-for-46 (93.5%), with two extra balls and one extra strike called. Throwing out the two balls, which Frazier as an offensive player would not have a gripe with, umpires were 43-for-44, or 97.7% efficient at not calling pitches thrown out of the strike zone as strikes (2.3% error rate).

Comparing the numbers pre-gripe to post-gripe, umpires remained strikingly consistent. There is no realistic nor statistically significant difference between the two datasets, other than an extra erroneous ball and two fewer erroneous strikes.

Gil's Call: Frazier is frustrated, not at any person or group of people in particular, but in general. He was hitting .250 during the five-game period of complaint he referred to post-game on May 2. He's hitting .125 since. In The Blame Game (Umpire Scapegoating) (8/8/14), I wrote the following passage which I feel applies to Frazier's situation:
When the subject says, “I don’t trust umpires' judgment,” the subject really means, “I don’t trust my own judgment.” Accordingly, "I don't trust [class of people]" becomes "I don't trust myself." We mask with projection because of a conditioned response to preserve our sense of self and internalized paradigm, even when our paradigm is inherently inaccurate, outdated or harmful.
In a similar vein, when Frazier said in his comments, "It’s been going on for years. But for me, this year specifically, it’s been going on a lot more," he wound up illustrating another one of my 2014 observations:
Yet sometimes, players or fans may be blinded by their team loyalty and thirst for winning to such a degree that they might decry a "this umpire hates us," or even more extreme, "the league is conspiring against us" mentality, such that every perceived slight from the point this thought first enters the subject's mind serves only as confirmation that, yeah, there must be a conspiracy against one's chosen team.
The problem portrayed above is the same one umpires are told never to bring up with an angry coach or player for fear of further stirring the pot: Frazier's last few weeks are in disarray; his offensive performance is substandard, and he requires a scapegoat. Until Frazier can get his own house in order,  blaming the umpires won't help.

Would it be preferable for umpires to achieve 100% accuracy? Absolutely. Yet the numbers consistently tell us: ball/strike misses from umpires are much preferable to the real-time StatCast technology prone to a variety of error that brings the humans' error rate to a level that is lower than the real-time computer's error rate. For that reason (amongst many others), the robots will have to wait.

In fact, by scapegoating a neutral third party, Frazier's performance might suffer even more if he plays the blame game rather than work to improve his own offensive output.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Ortiz Obstruction - Houston Misplay Gives Arizona a Run

Arizona's AJ Pollock scored a Little League home run (triple + error) Sunday when HP Umpire Roberto Ortiz called Houston 3B Alex Bregman for obstruction when he and Pollock became entangled after an overthrow in the 6th inning of the Astros-Diamondbacks game.

Ortiz motions for obstruction at third base.
The Play: With one out and one on (R1), Pollock hit a line drive to center fielder George Springer, who threw to cutoff man Carlos Correa as baserunner Daniel Descalso scored Arizona's first run. As Pollock ran toward third base, Correa's throw to Bregman hit the sliding Pollock and caromed wide of the base and off of the third-base dugout. Bregman took off after the ball as Pollock took off toward home plate, the two becoming entangled, causing both players to stumble as Astros pitcher Justin Verlander threw to catcher James McCann, who applied the tag on Pollock prior to the batter-runner's touch of home plate.

Umpire Coverage & Call: With the ball hit to center fielder Springer's right, 3B Umpire Mike DiMuro went out into left field to rule on the potential trouble in the outfield. This initiated a rotation play in which HP Umpire Ortiz ran to cover third base and 1B Umpire Brian Gorman moved to cover home plate. HP Umpire Ortiz ruled that Bregman obstructed Pollock at third, such that when 1B Umpire Gorman called Pollock out at home plate, the umpires imposed the obstruction rule's penalty and awarded Pollock safe passage to home, thus scoring Arizona's second run. The Diamondbacks ultimately won the contest, 3-1.

Quick QOC: Ortiz's call was correct. 3B Bregman obstructed batter-runner Pollock at third base.

BR Pollock and F5 Bregman are entangled.
Analysis: This is an example of Type 2/B obstruction, which occurs when no play is being made on the obstructed runner. By rule, as soon as Correa's throw sailed wide of Bregman—regardless of the fact that it hit Pollock (since Pollock did not intentionally interfere with the play, there is no obligation on the runner to avoid a thrown ball in that situation)—the fielder is said to have "made an attempt to field a ball and missed, [meaning] he can no longer be in the 'act of fielding' the ball."

Pursuant to Rule 6.01(h)(2), after the play is over, "The umpire shall then call 'Time' and impose such penalties, if any, as in his judgment will nullify the act of obstruction."

This is not to be confused with automatically awarding the obstructed runner a free base. Though Obstruction Type 1/A does prescribe an automatic one base award (at minimum), Type 2/B does not: its standard is to keep play alive until no further action is possible, and then "nullify the act."
Related PostObstruction Type 2 Does Not Guarantee Free Base (4/29/17).

Had Bregman obstructed Pollock after Pollock touched third base and while a play was being made on Pollock (such as during a rundown), the ball would be declared dead immediately and Pollock awarded home plate on this Type 1 obstruction. If this brand of obstruction occurred before Pollock arrived at third base, the ball would be dead and Pollock awarded third. If the umpires judged that he would have achieved home plate had there been no obstruction, Pollock would be awarded home plate.
Related PostMLB Ejection 027 - Vic Carapazza (1; John Gibbons) (5/8/17).

Type 1's reliance on umpire judgment might sound like Type 2's "nullify the act" procedure, but it is not. "Nullify the act" occurs when play is allowed to continue even after something illegal occurs. Type 1 obstruction results in an immediate dead ball, so there is nothing to "nullify" as there is in Type 2.

Conclusion: Because Pollock raced home and was thrown out by a mere fraction of a second, it can be said that had Bregman's obstruction not occurred, Pollock would have scored safely; thus, the proper penalty for Bregman's obstruction is to score Pollock's run.

Both 1/A and 2/B are defined as, "OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner."

Reminder: For this call to be made, the runner must be impeded: simply becoming entangled with a fielder isn't enough: the runner's attempt to advance (or retreat) must be hindered in some way.

The Joyce-DeMuth WS call is textbook OBS.
The gold standard of this particular brand of obstruction (illegal contact between fielder and baserunner at third base that occurs after an overthrow/misplayed ball as the runner attempts to advance to home plate) is 3B Umpire Jim Joyce's game-ending obstruction call in Game 3 of the 2013 World Series.

Joyce correctly ruled that Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks obstructed Cardinals baserunner Allen Craig, such that when Craig was thrown out at home plate moments later, HP Umpire Dana DeMuth fulfilled Joyce's ruling by imposing the penalty for Type 2/B obstruction and declared Craig safe for the game-winning run.
Related PostReviewing Jim Joyce's Game-Ending Obstruction Call (10/26/13).

Video as follows:

MLB Ejection 033 - Jeremie Rehak (1; John Gibbons)

HP Umpire Jeremie Rehak ejected Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons (no step balk call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 8th inning of the Blue Jays-Rays game. With one out and one on (R1), Rays baserunner Rob Refsnyder advanced to second base on a balk by Blue Jays pitcher Ryan Tepera, as called by HP Umpire Rehak. Replays indicate Tepera failed to step to first base with his free foot (left foot) before throwing to that base; in other words, he wheeled and threw to first base, but failed to gain distance with his lead foot to the base itself, resulting in a no step balk, the call was correct.* At the time of the ejection, the game was tied, 1-1. The Blue Jays ultimately won the contest, 2-1.

This is Jeremie Rehak (35)'s first ejection of 2018.
Jeremie Rehak now has 2 points in the UEFL Standings (-2 Prev + 2 AAA + 2 Correct Call = 2).
Crew Chief Fieldin Culbreth now has 1 point in Crew Division (0 Previous + 1 Correct Call = 1).
*Rule 6.02(a)(3) states it is a balk when—"The pitcher, while touching his plate, fails to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base."
6.02(a)(3) Comment continues:
Requires the pitcher, while touching his plate, to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base. If a pitcher turns or spins off of his free foot without actually stepping or if he turns his body and throws before stepping, it is a balk. because he steps. A pitcher is to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base and is required to throw (except to second base) because he steps.
Rule 8.02(a) Comment states, "Players leaving their position in the field or on base, or managers or coaches leaving the bench or coaches box, to argue on BALLS AND STRIKES will not be permitted. They should be warned if they start for the plate to protest the call. If they continue, they will be ejected from the game."
Related Literature: UEFL Archive for Balk Ejections, Analysis Articles, and Discussion Threads.

This is the 33rd ejection of the 2018 MLB regular season.
This is the 12th Manager ejection of 2018.
This is Toronto's 3rd ejection of 2018, 2nd in the AL East (NYY 4; TOR 3; BOS 1; BAL, TB 0).
This is John Gibbons' 3rd ejection of 2018, 1st since May 5 (CB Bucknor; QOC = N [Balls/Strikes]).
This is Jeremie Rehak's first career MLB ejection.

Wrap: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 5/6/18 | Video as follows:

Featured MiLB Ejection - Joe Gonzalez (Marte, Saylor)

California League (Class-A Advanced) HP Umpire Joe Gonzalez ejected Rancho Cucamonga Quakes catcher Hamlet Marte and Manager Drew Taylor (safe call; QOCY) in the bottom of the 6th inning of the Quakes-Rawhide game in Visalia. With none out and the bases loaded, Rawhide batter Dominic Miroglio singled off Quakes pitcher Isaac Anderson on the ground to left fielder Cody Thomas, who threw to catcher Marte as Rawhide baserunner R2 Camden Duzenack attempted to score from second base. Replays indicate Duzenack's left hand touched home plate prior to Marte's tag, the call was correct. At the time of the ejections, Visalia was leading, 5-1. Visalia ultimately won the contest, 8-1.

Discussion Point: Fortunately, the home plate umpire's positioning on the third base line extended allows the camera in the stands to get an unobstructed view of the runner touching home plate prior to the catcher's tag, and the correct call most assuredly is made—the runner is plainly safe, and there is no violation of the home plate collision rule to be seen. Is this the optimal plate positioning for this play?

Wrap: Rancho Cucamonga Quakes vs. Visalia Rawhide, 5/4/18 | Video as follows: