Thursday, June 23, 2022

Teachable - Angel's Angle on Back-Pick Tag at First Base

When Replay Review affirmed 1B Umpire Angel Hernandez's out call on Royals catcher Salvador Perez's pickoff attempt throwing behind Cardinals baserunner R1 José Rondón, it brought to the forefront the importance of angles in the furtherance of making accurate calls on the bases.

In this Tmac's Teachable Moment, we follow Hernandez throughout the pitch-to-pickoff sequence, noting the umpire's hustle to ensure he is in the proper position to attain the keyhole angle most optimal for making this call.

The pre-pitch planning with a runner on first base begins with positioning to rule on a potential pickoff play originating with the pitcher. Coincidentally, this position also lends itself to calling balks or other pitch-based infractions.

As the pitch is thrown—noting that the first base umpire has no check swing responsibilities for a left-handed batter—we see Hernandez hustle to his right, toward the foul line, primarily for a potential fair/foul decision on a batted ball. As positioning to rule on a potential pickoff takes the umpire into a beneficial angle for a potential balk, so too does angling oneself to officiate fair/foul for a potential back-pick from the catcher.

When that throw does occur, Hernandez is already in position at first base to make a call on a fast play.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Angel's location throughout pitch enables correct call on pickoff play (CCS/KC)


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