Friday, December 3, 2021

2021 UEFL Award for Gera Honorable Umpire - Joe West

Joe West wins the UEFL's 2021 Bernice Gera Honorable Umpire Award [2020: Angel Hernandez & West].
Voting Results: Joe West (23.6%), Tom Hallion (8.3%), Gerry Davis (6.9%).

Joe West is the UEFL's 2021 Bernice Gera Honorable Umpire of the Year.

As baseball's Blue Cowboy hangs up his mask and WestVest for the final time on an MLB field, he first stops to collect the UEFL's Bernice Gera Honorable Umpire of the Year Award.

After setting the MLB record for most regular season games officiated in major league history back in May by first tying Bill Klem at 5,375 and then surpassing The Old Arbiter, West earned himself a postseason plate assignment in a winner take all game—the NL Wild Card Game—and promptly proceeded to give as a farewell gift to baseball a typical West postseason performance: a 98.8% game, or 164/166.

In voting for West's repeat Honorable Umpire nod (2020-21) this year, UEFL'ers cited both West's milestone season as well as West's numerous contributions to the game of baseball from his NL debut in 1976, some 45 years ago.

Retrosheet gives West a final career tally of 5,460 regular season games officiated, 4 Wild Card assignments (3 Games + 1 Series [2 games] = 5 total games), 8 Division Series (33 games), 10 League Championship Series (60 games), 6 World Series (34 games), and 3 All-Star Games. West's career ejection total reached 196.

West will be eligible for Hall of Fame candidacy six months following retirement, which, depending on how long the owners-players dispute and lockout lasts, may be a little while. Thus, while West may be realistically off the field, he (and several other umpires this year) is not actually "retired" just yet.

UEFL Awards History, Joe West
Honorable Umpire of the Year: 2009, 2020
Ejection of the Year: 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018

The next postseason award to be announced will be Promising Umpire of the Year.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

2021 UEFL Award for Crew Chief - Tom Hallion

Tom Hallion wins the UEFL's 2021 Crew Chief of the Year Award [2020 Winner: Jim Reynolds].
Voting Results: Hallion (30.8%), Joe West (18.9%), Dan Iassogna / Alfonso Marquez (7.1%).

Tom Hallion is the 2021 UEFL Crew Chief of the Year

In what may be his final MLB season (subject to the outcome of the owners/players' dispute and lockout amongst others), Tom Hallion returned to the Fall Classic with his second career World Series assignment, this time as Crew Chief.

Voters cited his leadership and handling of this non-runner's lane interference situation in the Houston-Chicago ALDS, a no-call supported by rule.

Hallion also featured in a September Teachable regarding a tag play involving the batter-runner sliding into first base.

UEFL Awards History, Tom Hallion

The next postseason award to be announced will be the Bernice Gera Honorable Umpire of the Year.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

2021 UEFL Award for Fill-In Umpire - John Libka

John Libka wins UEFL's 2021 Fill-In Umpire of the Year Award [2020 Winner: Jeremie Rehak].
Voting Results: Libka (35.0%), Ben May (10.6%), Jeremy Riggs (9.4%).

John Libka is the 2021 UEFL Fill-In Umpire of the Year

Not many categories proved to be landslides, but John Libka ran away with the Fill-In Umpire of the Year vote. In addition to a consistently superior strike zone—Libka's plate scores in 2021 once again ranked at the top of the league—Libka also drew praise for situation handling throughout the season during ejections and other difficult situations.

Libka's textbook mechanics and positioning in Chicago earlier this season was featured as the April 2021 Call of the Month.

MLB seems to agree, having assigned Libka a career-high 134 major league games during the 2021 season for a total of 371 MLB contests since debuting during the 2017 season. The only call-ups to officiate more big league games in 2021 were Nick Mahrley and Ryan Additon, who took to the field 138 and 137 times, respectively.

UEFL Awards History, John Libka

The next postseason award to be announced will be Crew Chief of the Year.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

2021 UEFL Award for Most Improved - Mike Estabrook

The Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's 2021 Postseason Award recipient for Most Improved Umpire is Mike Estabrook (83) [2020 Winner: CB Bucknor]).
Voting Results (Top 3): Estabrook (16.0%), Rob Drake (14.1%), Jordan Baker (5.1%).

Mike Estabrook receives 2021's Most Improved Umpire Award.

In nominating Estabrook for the 2021 Most Improved Umpire Award, many voters referred to 2019, during which Estabrook ejected an MLB-high 13 players, coaches, and managers. By contrast, Estabrook's ejection total during the COVID-shortened 2020 season was one while Estabrook ejected two people in 2021.

Another common theme was an improved strike zone and overall improvement that helped Estabrook return to the postseason, his first Division Series assignment during a full season of baseball.

UEFL Awards History, Mike Estabrook

The next postseason award to be announced will be Fill-In Umpire of the Year.

Monday, November 29, 2021

2021 UEFL Award for Disappointing Season - Doug Eddings

The Umpire Ejection Fantasy League's 2021 Postseason Award recipient for Most Disappointing Season is Doug Eddings (88) [2020 Winner: Rob Drake]).
Voting Results (Top 3): Eddings (13.1%), Angel Hernandez (12.5%), Hunter Wendelstedt (6.9%).

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. 209 total ballots were cast during this year's nominations process.

Doug Eddings receives 2021's Most Disappointing Season Award.

Eddings, it should be noted, received a postseason assignment in the form of Game 5 HP Umpire for the Dodgers-Giants NL Division Series, in which Eddings called a respectable 97.7%, the second-highest score of that NLDS (Pat Hoberg Gm 4 was highest [97.9%]).

Yet, as JD wrote in nominating Eddings for this award, "I'll be straightforward, this was an awful year in all optics for him...his body language out there at times made it seem like he wasn't enjoying himself or the profession." NoahYingling noted recency bias may have played a role, as Eddings' first half appeared stronger than the second half.

Eddings concluded 2021 with eight ejections and featured prominently in Crew Chief Bill Miller's late September ejection of Cardinals manager Mike Schildt following an infield fly rule/changed out/safe/"Time" play in which both Miller and 3B Umpire Gabe Morales signaled an infield fly on a batter's R1-R2, one-out fair pop fly in front of third base, but 2B Umpire Eddings nonetheless ruled R1 out on a (non-existent) force play when the defense tagged second base.

During that ejection, commenter John noted that due to the ejection's very-late-season occurrence, "I'm not sure that we can assume that Eddings won't get any playoff games. While this call is BAD it's already been mentioned that the playoff list for the WC and divisional series has already gone out to the selected umpires."

UEFL Awards History, Doug Eddings
Most Improved Umpire of the Year - 2019

The next postseason award, Most Improved Umpire of the Year, will be released next.