Wednesday, November 4, 2020

2020 UEFL Award for Disappointing Season - Rob Drake

The Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's first Postseason Award is for Most Disappointing Season, which this year is Rob Drake (30) [2019 Winner: Rob Drake].
Voting Results (Top 3): Drake (26.2%), Hunter Wendelstedt (9.5%), Angel Hernandez (8.9%).

The UEFL Awards as defined in Rule 4-4 begin with Most Disappointing Season, below, and continue with Most Improved, Fill-In, Crew Chief, Honorable, Promising, Ejection(s) of the Year and concluding with Umpire of the Year. 235 total ballots were cast during this year's nominations process.

Rob Drake receives 2020's Most Disappointing Season Award.

As occasionally occurs with a Most Disappointing Season Award, Drake's nomination may have hinged on a poorly timed bad day at the office, which happened to be the final day of the 2020 regular season. During September 27's Padres-Giants season finale, Drake called a plate of 89.9% by UEFL f/x standards, which constituted a statistical outlier compared to baseball's larger body of plate work.

For some, the interplay of a sub-90 plate score (83.8% on ML Public) during San Francisco's do-or-die game to make the postseason, capped off by an incorrect strike three call that effectively shut the door on 2020 at Oracle Park, was enough to define an entire season of work, when not even Drake's above-average rank on Replay Affirmation Rate (T-22nd) or sole 2020 ejection over a correctly officiated interference call in Arizona would be enough to prevent an overwhelming nomination for this award.

Said baseballfollower, "Came back 'rebranded' with the bucket hat and had probably the worst HP job I have seen with the game on the line in SD-SF. Just shocked at how far he has slipped since 2015, and his regression is no longer a one off. I think he needs to work with Ted Barrett or Jeff Nelson next year and really get back on track."

Juanantonio Guevara was more blunt: "He fell off hard this season and just got lost, in a bad way."

In a year during which nearly every eligible umpire officiated the 2020 postseason (e.g., Tony Randazzo, Jim Wolf, and Hunter Wendelstedt were not eligible due to injuries), Drake was assigned to the NL Wild Card series in San Diego as Game 1's right field umpire, under the watchful eye of his regular season crew chief, Bill Miller.

And, yes, we'd be remiss if we didn't again mention the same Rob Drake Twitter incident that led to his nomination for the 2019 Most Disappointing Season Award. Is it fair to hold Drake's infamous "cival war" tweet against him over a year later? Probably not, but as we stated last fall, major league umpires should not make public statements on politics lest perceptions become permanently tarnished. For Drake, that lesson appears to have carried over into 2020—it doesn't help that MLB's subsequent investigation failed to generate a public outcome—and may be reflected in the voting for this award just as 9/27 was.

UEFL Awards History, Rob Drake
Honorable Umpire of the Year: 2016.
Most Disappointing Season: 2019.

Rob Drake now has 5 points in the UEFL Standings (6 Previous - 1 Award = 5).
The next postseason award, Most Improved Umpire of the Year, will be released next.


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