Friday, September 20, 2019

Montgomery Slams Ump Manny, Alleges Personal Bias

Kansas City Royals pitcher Mike Montgomery trashed umpire Manny Gonzalez following Thursday's ejection, calling for automated strike zones while claiming bias. Unfortunately for KC's allegation, a Fact Check doesn't support the bias charge & a 100% balls/strikes accuracy rating in the bottom of the 5th inning for the home run-producing at-bat of Twins slugger Mitch Garver doesn't exactly favor Montgomery's robot umpire invocation. As far as Montgomery's statement accusing Gonzalez of unethical motives, Gonzalez has one of the lowest ejection rates of all umpires in the history of AL, NL, and MLB baseball.

To recap, Gonzalez ejected Montgomery over a pair of ball calls during the at-bat. Specifically, MLB's own numbers charted ball two at a pz value 1.2 inches lower than its charted sz_bot value, with the third ball located 0.60 inches below the second, values that held through to press time. Following a subsequent swinging strike, Garver hit a home run. Montgomery and Royals pitching coach Cal Eldred exhausted the pace-of-play mandated 30-second mound visit timer, which pursuant to standard umpiring procedure saw Gonzalez walk to the mound to break up the meeting.

Montgomery was ejected after the meeting broke up for unsporting, profane, and personal comments to the umpire after warning to stop, in a lip-reading that FOX Sports Kansas City either accidentally or intentionally omitted from its broadcast.
Related PostMLB Ejection 210 - Manny Gonzalez (3; Mike Montgomery) (9/19/19).

After the game, Montgomery blamed Gonzalez and called for computer strike zone automation:
I've said something earlier in the game. You could tell. He was giving me that look like, "I'm going to screw you." I don't think umpires should have that right. I think they need to be objective, and if they can't be, I hate to say it: we've got to go to automated zones. I've never been one that wants or advocated for that, but after seeing it, I think it's definitely something that the league should consider.
Montgomery's rant only appeared in MIN.
Fortunately, objectivity is a Close Call Sports hallmark—it's in our mission statement.

Ejection Rate: Though EJ rate isn't directly related to Montgomery's accusation of bias, Gonzalez's stat here is an outlier that we wanted to address.

Gonzalez holds a historically low ejection rate of one ejection for every 122+ games officiated (2010-present)—note the following related article for comparison to historical rates. Ejection rates rarer than once-every-100+ games are nearly unheard of. Ted Barrett ejects more often, Jeff Kellogg ejects more often...Jim Joyce, Al Barlick, Doug Harvey, Tom Connolly, and Jocko Conlan are some others who eject more often.
Related PostPolls: He Gone (8/1/11).
UEFL f/x game score for Manny Gonzalez was 97.7% with a skew of +1 pitch in favor of the Kansas City Royals.
Gonzalez's 9/19/19 Performance: Since Montgomery sought to directly target Gonzalez's integrity or bias, we decided to look at the actual figures from MLB's game log. Here's what we found.

> Gonzalez's plate score for the entire game was 97.7% (209/214 [missed five pitches]).
> Gonzalez's game skew was + 1 KC. This means his errors favored Kansas City by one pitch.
> Gonzalez plate score for Montgomery as pitcher was 94.3% (50/53 [missed three pitches]).
> Gonzalez's skew for Montgomery was +1 KC. That means his errors favored Mike by one pitch.

Montgomery addresses Gonzalez at the mound.
Conclusion: With MLB's league average Zone Evaluation figure in the mid-97% range—and Zone Eval is much more generous to umpires than our UEFL f/x method—we can conclude Gonzalez likely called an above-average game. However, for Montgomery as a pitcher specifically, Gonzalez was below average—though we caution that a sample size of 53 is too low for meaningful analysis (e.g., if he missed one less pitch, the 94.3% accuracy figure would tick up to 96.2%; if he missed two fewer pitches, it would be 98.1%).

Prior fact checking has broken apart stories.
That said, of the five veritable errors across the 214-pitch sample size, three occurred with Montgomery on the mound, which would indicate that Montgomery was disproportionately affected by errors—but not at a statistically significant rate, and a clip that actually favored Kansas City.

However, seeing as Gonzalez's skew with Montgomery on the mound was +1 KC (and +1 KC for the entire game), the statistics do not support Montgomery's allegation of bias against him personally as Gonzalez missed just one pitch with Montgomery on the mound that hurt Kansas City.

This is similar to findings related to Todd Frazier in 2018 (facts didn't support his allegations against the umpires) and Paul LoDuca's accusation against Joe West earlier in 2019.
Related PostAnalysis - Catching Up With Todd Frazier 5 Days Later (5/7/18).
Related PostPants on Fire - Paul Lo Duca's Joe West Accusation (5/10/19).

Insert obligatory link to umpire scapegoating article here.
Related PostGil's Call: The Blame Game (Umpire Scapegoating) (8/8/14).

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Our Fact Check indicates Montgomery might have been wrong (CCS)


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