Thursday, February 28, 2019

Top 10 MLB Hothead Players by Ejection Frequency

On the occasion of Bryce Harper's Phillies contract, we revisit the subject of baseball's biggest hothead player, as measured by the umpire ejection sabermetric value, Games Per Ejection (GPE). Using our historic benchmark of David Ortiz's 175 GPE (aka "the Papi line"), we crown MLB's leading active hothead position player.

History: We first tracked hothead statistics in 2015, finding that dugout phone-smashing David Ortiz held the league lead amongst active players for ejection frequency.

At the time of our June 2015 study, Big Papi's one ejection per 197 games played led all players with at least 2,000 games played, a number of minimum games that limited our study's scope to veteran ballplayers.
Related PostDetermining The League's Biggest Hothead (It's Big Papi) (6/11/15).

In 2016, we repeated the study on the occasion of Ortiz's impending retirement from the game, but dropped our minimum games played barrier from 2,000 to just 500. Accordingly, we found that youngster Bryce Harper had taken over the top spot, by a significant margin, followed by Matt Kemp, Yunel Escobar, BJ / Melvin / Back to BJ Upton, Manny Machado, and Joey Votto had all eclipsed the Ortiz benchmark, which had increased in frequency to 175 GPE, thanks to additional ejection activity after the 2015 study (also see the related post for a note as to why we don't include pitchers).
Related PostPassing the Torch - Papi Out, Harper In as Biggest Hothead (5/13/16).

Harper keeps his crown as MLB's #1 Hothead.
After taking the past few seasons off, we revisit the hothead discussion for active position players. Here are the results (minimum 500 games played). You can also click each player's name that appears in the accompanying table for their UEFL ejection report history.

Legend and Definitions
Ejection Rate: Measured in Games-Per-Ejection (GPE).
GPE: Games played divided by their ejections.
EPS: Ejections per Season, based on 162 GP.

Active MLB Position Players with Highest Ejection Frequency
#Player NameGames Per Ejection
Ejections Per Season
(EPS [E/GP*162])
1Bryce Harper841.92
2Matt Kemp991.63
3Yunel Escobar1101.47
4Marwin Gonzalez1331.22
5BJ / Melvin Upton1471.10
6Ian Kinsler1640.99
7Josh Donaldson1770.92
8Yasiel Puig1780.91
9Joey Votto1970.82
10Russell Martin2010.80

To summarize:
> Bryce Harper remains the league's biggest hothead player, from 77 GPE in 2016 to 84 GPE in 2018. This is significant, because Gary Sheffield now reclaims the #2 all-time hothead mark, minimum 500 games played, with 78 GPE. For those wondering, #1 belongs to Milton Bradley (55 GPE).
> Matt Kemp and Yunel Escobar have increased their ejection frequency (EPS) since 2016.
> Marwin Gonzalez, Josh Donaldson, and Yasiel Puig had too few games played to be included on the 2016 hothead list. Because these three players kept their ejection frequency up, they are featured in the 2019 list's Top 10 MLB Hothead Players.
> Slots #6 Kinsler and above have been ejected more frequently than David Ortiz. #7 Donaldson and below fall on the less-frequent side of the Papi Line of 175 GPE.
> Here are the 2019 rankings for others who appeared on the 2016 list, but have since fallen out of the Top 10: 5 Manny Machado: #14 (232 GPE), 7 Troy Tulowitzky: #11 (214 GPE), 8 AJ Pierzynski: Retired (187 GPE), 9 Justin Upton: #19 (243 GPE), 10 Carlos Gomez: #17 (238 GPE).
> Mike Trout retains his crown as Cool & Collected. Trout and many other MLB'ers have never been ejected in their playing careers.


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