Monday, September 23, 2019

MLB Ejections in 2019 Climb to Highest Mark in 12 Years

MLB umpires' ejections of players and managers in 2019 continues to climb and has now reached levels not seen since the mid-2000s. Ejection #214 (Umpire Rehak, and 213, Joe West) over the weekend brought the 2019 regular season to an ejections plateau dormant for 12 years.

In 2007—when umpires ejected 215 players, managers, and coaches—ejections were on the decline, down from 218 in 2006, 227 in 2005, 236 in 2004, and 289 in 2003 (QuesTec's first season). In 2008, disciplinary dismissals dropped to 207, and bottomed out at 165 in 2009.

And up until Spring Training 2019, ejections were again trending downward—what with 2015's peak of 212 heave-ho's decrease to 190 in 2016, 184 in 2017, and 179 in 2018.

As we discussed in a previous article, something changed in 2019—more than the simple spike in ejections we've come to when MLB and the umpires' union MLBUA (or WUA previously) enter a contentious period of contract negotiations. This led us to project an ejections increase in 2019 to 215 total ejections at season's end.
Related PostUmps Surpass 2018 Ejections Total in August 2019 (9/1/19).

In 2014, ejections spiked from 180 to 199 (+19) in a contract year that nearly ended in a lockout, according to sources at the time. Are talks stalled in 2019 as they were in 2014 (214 ejections [and counting] represents +35 ejections year-over-year compared to 2018's 179 tosses), or is there something else at work? Was 2014's adoption of expanded Replay Review to blame for such a rally?
Related PostMLB-WUA Contract Talks Stall, Lockout Possible (Source) (12/9/14).

Pitch calling tensions have led to ejections.
More than any other time in MLB history, umpires are under the balls/strikes microscope—and MLB has helped funnel this electronic rebellion into the pitch calling realm largely because of Replay Review's 2014 expansion.

Yet by that same token, fans and teams alike may have been sold a bag of false goods with a PitchCast system that doesn't seem to work as well as advertised—flames fanned by observers, some oblivious and others unethical, with a variety of motivations—and a top-secret umpire plate score evaluation system that is largely rejected by the few media darlings who have been granted the slightest momentary glimpse behind the curtain due to its significant lack of public transparency.
Related PostPodcast - Truth About Baseball's Electronic Strike Zone (6/5/19).

We at Close Call Sports have devised a proposal to ease the disconnect while meeting both sides—the fans/teams and the umpires—and plan to present this responsible proposal in a follow-up article in the near future.


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