Tuesday, January 17, 2023

2023 MLB Call-Up Umpire Hiring Outlook

Here at Closecallsports, our replay guru TMAC has watched every single replay and charted it since the inception of expanded replay.  Besides needing a hobby, over the next few weeks TMAC will share that data with you in three parts.  The first will be an analysis of all the MILB Call-up umpires.  MLB will be announcing 10 new hires soon!  

In 2022 there were 670 calls overturned (OT) by the replay system, or one in every 3.63 games.  Remember there are four umpires assigned to regular season affairs so that comes to one OT every 14.5 games as the average for each umpire.  If 14.5 is the barometer, you will notice some better and some not quite up to the MLB average.  That average takes into account ALL umpires, both Full-Time, and MILB Call-Ups! 

We will sort each umpire in two ways!  The top chart is by games worked and the lower is by fewest overturns per game.  There is no analysis on total replay reviews.  We only concentrate on overturned calls.  Over the long haul, OTs are the best way to determine who has the best judgement on calls not only that are eligible for replay review, but decisions that encompass all aspects of the game with the exception of handling situations and balls and strikes!    

Nick Mahrley: 476 Games/45 OTs Overturn Rate 1 in 10.6 games
Shane Livensparger: 382/41 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/9.3
Edwin Moscoso: 332/22 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/15.1
Jeremy Riggs: 263/10 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/26.3
Adam Beck: 253/14 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/18.1 
Nestor Ceja: 253/22 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/11.5
Ryan Wills: 250/19 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/13.2
Dan Merzel: 241/6 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/40.2
Junior Valentine: 235/18 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/13.1
Eric Bacchus 234/19 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/12.3
Brennan Miller: 195/12 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/16.3
Alex Tosi: 191/21 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/9.1
Malachi Moore: 156/14 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/11.1
John Bacon: 149/14 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/10.6
Charlie Ramos: 138/10 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/13.8
Clint Vondrak: 133/11 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/12.1
Jose Navas: 130/8 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/16.3
Nate Tomlinson: 92/6 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/15.3
Paul Clemons: 73/4 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/18.3
Alex MacKay: 47/5 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/9.4
Randy Rosenberg 39/5 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/7.8
David Arrieta: 39/1 OT: Overturn Rate 1/39
Brock Ballou: 30/5 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/6
Lew Williams 28/2 OTs: Overturn Rate 1/14

1) Dan Merzel: Overturn Rate 1 Overturn per 40.2 Games (1/40.2)
2) David Arrieta: 1/39
3) Jeremy Riggs: 1/26.3
4) Paul Clemons: 1/18.3
5) Adam Beck: 1/18.1
T6) Brennan Miller: 1/16.3
Jose Navas: 1/16.3
8) Nate Tomlinson: 1/15.3
9) Edwin Moscoso: 1/15.1
10) Lew Williams: 1/14
11) Charlie Ramos: 1/13.8
12) Ryan Wills: 1/13.2
13) Junior Valentine: 1/13.1
14) Eric Bacchus: 1/12.3
15) Clint Vondrak: 1/12.1
16) Nestor Ceja: 1/11.5
17) Malachi Moore: 1/11.1
18) John Bacon: 1/10.6 (10.64)
19) Nick Mahrley: 1/10.6 (10.58)
20) Alex MacKay: 1/9.4 
21) Shane Livensparger: 1/9.3
22) Alex Tosi: 1/9.1
23) Randy Rosenberg: 1/7.8
24) Brock Ballou: 1/6

Notes: 
- David Arrieta wasn’t flipped until his 29th MLB game and he’s on a stretch now of 10 straight.  
- Nate Tomlinson was OT’d three times in his first MLB game, but in his 91 since, he’s been wrong via review only three times also! 
- Brock Ballou’s body of work is small so after one year it’s best to wait for more complete data.
- Dan Merzel’s one overturn in every 40 + games is the best for a call-up at the end of a season since replay began (minimum 50 total MLB games).
- Edwin Moscoso had a breakthrough 2022 season with four flips in 145 games or 1/36.3

This data is by no means the be all and end all but combined with ball-strike success rate it would be a great way to point yourself in the right direction when selecting the newest full-time MLB umpires.  

In our next data drop, we’ll do the same with the replay stats, but we’ll apply our breakdown to the Crew Chiefs!  The data may just surprise you! 

Friday, January 13, 2023

All Triple-A Games to Use Electronic Strike Zone Tech

All 30 Triple-A ballparks will house electronic balls and strikes technology in 2023, according to an ESPN report. Half of the games will use RoboUmp's fully-Automated Balls/Strikes System (ABS), in which the computer calls all pitches, while half of the games will feature a hybrid challenge system, in which human umpires continue calling balls and strikes, but teams (specifically, pitchers, catchers, and batters) will be allowed to challenge three umpire calls per game (retaining the challenge if the call is overturned).

Minor League Baseball in 2022 expanded its automated strike zone tests with the introduction of ABS to certain Spring Training sites in Florida, as well as certain selected minor league games in AAA West and Low-A Southeast.

This itself followed the Atlantic League's 2022 announcement that it would abandon its ABS RoboUmp experiment, following a few years of significant computer errors that led to contentious strike calls and ejections, most frequently of pitching coach Frank Viola.

In 2021, an Arizona Fall League game had to be ended early after both teams ran out of pitchers due to ABS RoboUmp's strict strike zone, leading to more ball calls than customary for a baseball game, which in turn required all 12 pitchers to throw more pitches.

The imminent 2023 Triple-A setup of half-full ABS and half-challenge system, as we point out scientifically, stipulates that the computer will get it wrong some of the time. For instance, strike zone heights will be calculated based on a percentage of total batter height (every person has different body  proportions, meaning this methodology is error-prone), while the addition of an inch to either side of home plate in calculated horizontal ball/strike calls is, itself, not quite the correct radius of a baseball.

This, of course, is in addition to the plethora of computer strike zone errors we have previously reported on.
Related PostDude, What Happened Last Night? About Pitch f/x Error (8/30/16).

Video as follows:

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Jeff Nelson Officiates a Back-Tag in the Middle Infield

On a first-and-third base hit to left field, Blue Jays runner R1 Santiago Espinal rounded second base in anticipation of a throw to the plate on the lead runner—a throw that instead was cut off and found its way to second base as Espinal dove back. 2B Umpire Jeff Nelson, reading the cutoff sequence, gradually drifted along the first base side of second, anticipating a potential play on the trailing R1 Espinal.

This call would stand via Replay Review as the result of an Orioles challenge, but no camera had a better angle than 2B Umpire Nelson, who worked throughout the play to gain a position and keyhole angle with which to see a potential back-tag situation, which is precisely what ended up happening.

Video as follows:

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Getting Set - Using Body Position to Improve Call Accuracy

In this Teachable Moment, tmac spies 2B Umpire Greg Gibson making a safe (pulled foot) call in Minnesota, a reviewed-and-affirmed call made possible by Gibson's use of sound umpiring technique in pivoting and getting set prior to the critical action of the play.

Gibson's static positioning allows him to maintain a constant head height and thus keep his eyes in similar constancy, which increases the likelihood of seeing the play clearly and making the correct call.

Video as follows: