Thursday, July 11, 2019

MLB Call-Up Umpire Hiring Outlook - 2019 Break

2019's MLB call-up list features 18 Triple-A umpires looking for a big league job. With several umpire vacancies expected across the full-time staff at year's end, MLB Umpire Observer's hiring outlook at the All-Star Break looks at the minor league officials most likely to be hired over the offseason based on earlier Major League appearances. Prior seasons' games worked and first half appearance stats, courtesy Russ, are included as well.

First, a word on hiring. The Major League Baseball Umpire staff is comprised of 76 individuals spread across 19 umpiring crews of four umpires each; the roster is fixed at 76.

The only way for a MiLB call-up/fill-in umpire to be hired to the MLBU staff is for one of those 76 slots to be vacated, which generally occurs as a result of retirement, but can also occur due to medical retirement/disability, termination due to a severe CBA infraction (e.g., drug violation), or similar separation.

Ryan Blakney ejects LA's Joc Pederson.
In 2019, there was zero turnover from the 2018 season, but with the umpires' union (MLBUA) negotiating an agreement with MLB to replace that which will expire on December 31, 2019, we would expect at least a few retirements, and thus staff vacancies, as in the past, MLB has enticed seniority turnover with favorable retirement packages. That said, here's who is most likely to be hired to the full-time MLBU staff from the MiLB call-up roster, with comments from MLB Umpire Observer (MLBUO). The list is sorted solely by total MLB games officiated.

Also included are tmac's review of each umpire's Replay Review overturns-per-games officiated (total number of overturned calls divided by MLB games officiated). The best ratios (higher per-game numbers) are highlighted in green, average is yellow, and worst (lowest per game #s) is red.

First Tier - Most Experienced Call-Up Umpires:
Chris Segal - 572 MLB games (513 games in 5 years + 59). 33 OTs, 1 overturn per 17.3 games.
MLBUO: He is not seeing the same amount of games as last season but he is still looking good for a full time slot.
Gil's Take: Segal has seen the fifth-most games in 2019, so while he's not MLB's top choice, he's still high on the list due to his history of experience, and his replay work is second-best in the call-up long as the league doesn't Clint Fagan him and continually pass him over. The 2019-2020 offseason is make-or-break for Segal and I can't imagine a league without a Segal in it.

Ryan Blakney - 530 (475 games in 4 years + 55). 26, 1 per 20.4.
MLBUO: He is not on the same pace as he was last season but I still believe he will be full time next season.
Gil's Take: Blakney is right behind Segal in both total MLB experience and in games worked during the 2019 regular season. His replay overturn rate is the best amongst the entire call-up roster. He should be a solid choice for the hiring department, despite his recent reduction in big league games.

Sean Barber - 461 (393 games in 5 years + 68). 30, 1 per 15.4.
MLBUO: Continues to see a lot of work, if he keeps getting work look for him to maybe get a full time slot in the next few years.
Gil's Take: Barber should be encouraged by his 68 pre-break games worked in 2019, which is third-highest on the list. His replay work is in the top tier.

Nic Lentz - 441 (363 games in 3 years + 78 in 2019). 27, 1 per 16.3.
MLBUO: I expect him to be the next umpire hired, he is basically working a full time schedule without any time off.
Gil's Take: Lentz has officiated the most MLB games of anyone in 2019; MLB clearly wants to see more of him and he can make his case with a solid second-half showing; he did, after all, top all umpires with 149 MLB games worked in 2018.

Second Tier - Middle of the Pack:
Ben May - 419 (404 games in 5 years + 15). 43, 1 per 9.7.
MLBUO: Hasn’t gotten many MLB games this season. I think he is on the outside looking in right now and expect his games will probably continue to go down.
Gil's Take: 15 games in the first-half of 2019 is discouraging for a Call-Up Class of 2014 candidate, as are the 43 overturns, which is the most raw OTs on the call-up list.

Tom Woodring - 412 (380 games in 5 years + 32). 267, 1 per 15.3.
MLBUO: Very slow start to the season but once he starting working MLB games he hasn’t been back to Triple A. We will see how he is used the rest of this season before I decide we’re he is on the list but he will not be full time next season unless there is a mass exodus after this season.
Gil's Take: This is a bubble bet that may take two years to pan out one way or the other. It just depends how patient the league is and how many slots will open up.

Chad Whitson - 391 (332 games in 5 years + 59). 28, 1 per 14.0.
MLBUO: I believe he will be full time at some time. It will depend on how many openings there are to see when he gets one but right now he is in no danger of being released.
Gil's Take: Whitson's 59 games thus far in 2019 indicates MLB wants to see more of him, as evidenced by his 141 games in 2018 and 124 in 2017.

Ramon De Jesus - 315 (260 games in 3 years + 55). 23, 1 per 13.7.
MLBUO: Has seen a large workload this year which is promising for him after several years of being in the 80 game range for the year if he continues to increase the amount of games he will be full time sooner rather than later.
Gil's Take: Sleeper candidate for the upcoming hiring spree, but I would think it more responsible to wait until 2021. Either way, De Jesus should stick around.

Roberto Ortiz - 190 (142 games in 3 years + 48). 13, 1 per 14.6.
MLBUO: Will probably continue to see MLB games for the rest of this season after getting a slow start but being up regularly lately if he performs well he could work himself into a full time slot soon.
Gil's Take: He is slowly getting more and more games every year since his debut in 2016. He needs just 20 to match his 2018 total of 68, and I expect that to happen.

Jansen Visconti - 181 (108 games in 1 year + 73). 12, 1 per 15.1.
MLBUO: He has continued to work MLB games on a consistent basis. He is in no danger of being released and will continue to see MLB games on a consistent basis.
Gil's Take: Visconti is an outlier...a sophomore with a top-tier replay overturn rate and an impressive 100+ games officiated in his rookie season. He won't be hired this go-around, but is a real contender for 3+ years down the line. Mark T. Williams of Boston University rated Visconti second in the entire league for ball/strike calling, but that's with a sample size that's barely 10% of the full-timers.

Ryan Additon - 168 (129 games in 2 years + 39). 15, 1 per 11.2.
MLBUO: I think he is one that could go either way. He continues to get some MLB action but not a lot. The rest of this season will mean a lot for Ryan and seeing how the league plans to use him.
Gil's Take: Don Mattingly.

Jeremie Rehak - 167 (98 games in 1 year + 69). 14, 1 per 11.9.
MLBUO: Continues to be an MLB umpire in his situational handling. I think he has at least another 1 or 2 seasons as a call up before he gets a full time job.
Gil's Take: He nearly broke the 100-game threshold last year and he'll get close again this season. Rehak is the rare call-up umpire with four ejections by the All-Star Break, but he's handled each of those situation well. Rehak was named the third-best umpire in the league by Williams with a sample size smaller than Visconti's.

Nick Mahrley - 125 (108 games in 2 years + 17). 14, 1 per 8.9.
MLBUO: I had hope for him when he was made a rover before this season but his workload has not reflected that and he has spent the majority of the year in Triple A. Unfortunately I don’t think he is in the leagues plan long term.
Gil's Take: If this were a gambling parlor, we'd be hedging our bets. Mahrley won't be hired this offseason and the hope is that top-tier MiLB call-up slots will open up due to MLB promotion/hiring that Mahrley will be able to occupy.

John Libka - 120 (77 games in 2 years + 43). 14, 1 per 10.9.
MLBUO: He has started to work consistently since the end of May. He won’t be at the top of the list this offseason but if this trend continues through the end of this year and next year I could see him being near the top after next season.
Gil's Take: Mark T. Williams of Boston University loves Libka for his ability to call to the computer. He put Libka on his World Series crew based on ball/strike performance alone (Williams ranked him #1 in the league based on a sample size of less than 5% of the average full-timer's dataset). So we'll see Libka in the 2020 World Series...on MLB The Show. The real life Libka still has a few years before MLB considers hiring him.

Shane Livensparger - 86 (86 games in 2 years + 0). 12, 1 per 7.2.
MLBUO: I don’t expect him to receive many MLB games this year and would not be surprised if he is not back for next season based on the way MLB has used or I should say not used him.
Gil's Take: He hasn't had a single game in 2019 and his overturn ratio brings up the statistical rear of the call-up class. That's tough.

Brennan Miller - 14 games in 2019. 0, no replays overturns.
MLBUO: He has been the rookie that has been used the most. He won’t see a lot of games this year I think but the fact the league has let him work a couple of plates and he is seeing action is a positive sign.
Gil's Take: All rookies are just waiting to get more MLB experience.

Alex Tosi - 2 games in 2019. 1, 1 per 2.0 [sample size under 10].
MLBUO: We will see what he gets for the rest of the year expect some games late in the year and then a longer look next year.
Gil's Take: He's the only rook overturned via replay, which means...absolutely nothing.

John Bacon - 1 game in 2019. 0, no replay overturns.
MLBUO: We will see what he gets for the rest of the year expect some games late in the year and then a longer look next year.
Gil's Take: Someone has to have the fewest number of games and at the moment, it's Bacon.


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