Friday, March 25, 2022

Atlantic League Rules for 2022 - DH, Hits for Wild Pitches

MLB's partnership with the Atlantic League continues with two experimental rules announced for 2022: the Double-Hook Designated Hitter Adjustment and Dropped Pitch Rule that awards base hits to batters who steal first base on wild pitches.

Major League Baseball announced the test changes, touting positive results through testing rules "that many baseball fans routinely discuss and want to learn more about."
"Many baseball fans" couldn't be reached for comment.

The ALPB 2022 season's rules experiments are as follows:

> Double-Hook Designated Hitter Adjustment. First introduced alongside the rule moving the pitcher's mound back by one foot in 2021 (a change that didn't make it to the end of the season), the Atlantic League's double-hook DH rule held that a team would only retain the designated hitter for as long as the starting pitcher remained in the game: Once the starting pitcher was removed, the DH terminated and the substitute player would have to bat for themself.

In 2022, the double-hook DH rule adjustment allows a team to keep its DH for the entire game if the starting pitcher completes five innings on the mound, while the team would lose its DH if the started fails to complete five innings of work. MLB's equivalent might be informally deemed the "Shohei Ohtani Rule."

> Dropped Pitch Rule. First introduced in 2019 as "batters may steal first base," this rule states that a batter may attempt to acquire first base on any pitched ball not caught by the catcher.

A batter thus becomes a runner if the following criteria are met: "(i) a pitch, swung at [but not fouled] or taken [but not a hit-by-pitch or fourth ball], is not caught by the catcher, and (ii) both of the batter's feet leave the batter's box, and (iii) the batter, in the umpire's judgment, demonstrates or otherwise creates an impression of his intent to advance to first base. If first base is occupied when the batter chooses to become a runner this creates a force play." New for 2022, batters who arrive at first base safely will be awarded a hit (previously this was a wild pitch or passed ball).
Related PostAtlantic League Debuts New Rules, E-Zone (7/10/19).

Thursday, March 24, 2022

2022 MLB Spring Training Umpire Roster

Major League Baseball's 2022 Spring Training Umpire roster features 76 Major League and 14 Triple-A call-up umpires for a total of 90 umpires assigned to MLB's Arizona's Cactus and Florida's Grapefruit Leagues.

This is a decrease from 2021's Spring Training roster of 97 total umpires, six less umpires than 2020's MLB Spring Training roster of 96 officials, and the lowest total umpire count since we began tracking the MLB + MiLB Invitee Spring Training roster (closest: 91 umpires in 2018 Spring).

The following list features sleeve numbers for all umpires already assigned to fill-in personnel, as well as full-timer MLB uniform numbers.

Umpires in bold are new to the Spring Training list; those without numbers may receive formal uniform number assignments later this Spring (underlined text indicates the umpire has returned to the Spring list after absence from said list in 2021). A sleeve number for a minor league umpire/invitee signifies that this umpire is qualified to work MLB regular season games. Regular season crew chiefs are italicized. Just because a Minor League umpire is not on the invitee list does not mean the umpire will not work any Spring Training games, it simply means they may be on standby or the unofficial "call-up" list for Spring. Observations follow the list.

MLB Spring Training Umpires' Roster - 2022 Pre-Season
MLB StaffMLB StaffMiLB Invitees & Call-Ups
Additon, Ryan 67
Baker, Jordan 71
Barber, Sean 29
Barksdale, Lance 23
Barrett, Lance 16
Barrett, Ted 65
Barry, Scott 87
Bellino, Dan 2
Blakney, Ryan 36
Blaser, Cory 89
Bucknor, CB 54
Carapazza, Vic 19
Carlson, Mark 6
Conroy, Chris 98
Cuzzi, Phil 10
De Jesus, Ramon 18
Diaz, Laz 63
Drake, Rob 30
Dreckman, Bruce 1
Eddings, Doug 88
Emmel, Paul 50
Estabrook, Mike 83
Fairchild, Chad 4
Fletcher, Andy 49
Foster, Marty 60
Gibson, Greg 53
Gibson, Tripp 73
Gonzalez, Manny 79
Guccione, Chris 68
Hallion, Tom 20
Hamari, Adam 78
Hernandez, Angel 5
Hickox, Ed 15
Hoberg, Pat 31
Holbrook, Sam 34
Hoye, James 92
Hudson, Marvin 51
Iassogna, Dan 58
Johnson, Adrian 80
Knight, Brian 91
Kulpa, Ron 46
Layne, Jerry 24
Lentz, Nic 59
Libka, John 84
Little, Will 93
Marquez, Alfonso 72
May, Ben 97
Meals, Jerry 41
Miller, Bill 26
Morales, Gabe 47
Muchlinski, Mike 76
Nauert, Paul 39
Nelson, Jeff 45
O'Nora, Brian 7
Ortiz, Roberto 40
Porter, Alan 64
Rackley, David 86
Randazzo, Tony 11
Rehak, Jeremie 35
Reyburn, D.J. 17
Reynolds Jim 77
Ripperger, Mark 90
Scheurwater, Stu 85
Segal, Chris 96
Tichenor, Todd 13
Timmons, Tim 95
Torres, Carlos 37
Tumpane, John 74
Vanover, Larry 27
Visconti, Jansen 52
Wegner, Mark 14
Welke, Bill 3
Wendelstedt, Hunter 21
Whitson, Chad 62
Wolcott, Quinn 81
Wolf, Jim 28
Bacchus, Erich 101
Ballou, Brock ---
Beck, Adam 102
Ceja, Nestor 103
Livensparger, Shane 43
MacKay, Alex 105
Mahrley, Nick 48
Merzel, Dan 107
Moore, Malachi 108
Moscoso, Edwin 109
Riggs, Jeremy 112
Valentine, Junior 115
Vondrak, Clint 116
Wills, Ryan 118

(14 MiLB Umpires)
(76 MLB Umpires)
(90 Total Umpires)

Information obtained by
UEFL on 3/24/2022.
Some observations, year-over-year:
  • > 2022's roster of 14 MiLBU invitees features 1 no-#, 11 triple-digit and 2 two-digit umpires.
  • > 2021 Spring Training invitees not included on the 2022 list include John Bacon (70), Paul Clemons (104), Brennan Miller (55), Jose Navas (110), and Alex Tosi (66).
  • > Full-time MLB umpires Paul Nauert did not start Spring Training, but was assigned to a regular season crew. Ortiz's full-time status is pending a physical.
  • > Hired umpires are: Ryan Additon, Sean Barber, John Libka, Ben May, Roberto Ortiz.
  • > Retiring umpires: Fieldin Culbreth, Kerwin Danley, Gerry Davis, Brian Gorman, Joe West.
  • > Promoted crew chiefs: Laz Diaz, Greg Gibson, Marvin Hudson, Ron Kulpa, Bill Welke.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Ask UEFL - SMC-LMU Game-Ending HBP Strike Rule

When Loyola-Marymount University defeated Saint Mary's College on Sunday, 10-9, the game's final call—a hit-by-pitch strike three call for leaning into the ball—drew several questions. From a baseball rules perspective, here is the answer.

Play: With two out and one on (R3) in the top of the 9th inning of a one-run ballgame, trailing team Saint Mary's pinch hitter Javy Espinoza prepared for LMU pitcher Owen Hackman's 2-2 offering. Upon the pitched ball making contact with batter Espinoza's right leg, the home plate umpire ruled Espinoza out to end the game.

Relevant Rule: NCAA Rule 7-4-i states that, in college baseball, a strike is "Awarded if the batter is judged to intentionally make a movement to be hit by a pitch, regardless of where the pitch is located; or allows themself to be intentionally hit by a pitch that is not thrown within the boundaries of the batter's box unless it was not possible to avoid being hit." NCAA 8-2-d-1b further clarifies: "If the ball is within the batter's box occupied by the batter and the batter makes no movement to intentionally get hit by the pitch, the batter is awarded first base. In other words, a batter who freezes inside the batter's box and who is hit by the pitch shall be awarded first base." No matter the batter's movements, if the pitched ball contacts the batter within the strike zone, it is a dead ball strike.

This is a different rule than both high school and professional baseball. NFHS 7-3-4 states that the batter shall not "permit a pitched ball to touch them" unless the touching is unavoidable. The penalty in high school is that the pitch is ruled according to its location. This is similar to MLB/MiLB's way of calling this particular play, as OBR 5.05(b)(2) states that the batter becomes a runner entitled to first base when "touched by a pitched ball which they are not attempting to hit unless (A) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (B) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball." As in high school, the pitch is ruled a strike or ball depending on its location, as if the pitch hadn't touched the batter.

Under all three rulesets, "Time" is called as the ball becomes dead upon touching the batter.

Summary: NCAA's yardstick is whether or not the batter intentionally moved to get hit (tried TO), while NFHS/OBR's standard is whether or not the batter tried to avoid being hit (tried NOT to).

As for SMC-LMU, the umpire's judgment, thus, is whether or not the batter intentionally made a movement to be hit by the pitch or allowed this avoidable touch to occur (and the pitch was not located in the batter's box). If either event occurred, the proper call is dead ball and, with a 2-2 count, strike three, effectively ending the game. Had this occurred in NFHS or OBR, it would have resulted in a 3-2 count if the pitch was located outside of the strike zone or a strikeout if the pitch was thrown in the zone.

Did the batter intentionally make a movement to be hit by this pitch? | Video as follows: