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Angel Hernandez calls worst game of the year so far

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https://nypost.com/2021/04/07/mlb-umpire-angel-hernandez-called-out-for-another-brutal-game/?utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_source=NYPTwitter&utm_medium=SocialFlow

The frequently criticized MLB umpire was singled out by the Twitter account Umpire Auditor for missing 24 balls and strikes calls on Tuesday, giving him a correct call percentage of 83.2.

More at the link above.

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On a related note, Hernandez has lost his case against MLB for not selecting him to work in the World Series:

https://nypost.com/2021/03/31/umpire-angel-hernandez-loses-discrimination-suit-against-mlb/

[U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken wrote] “The evidence shows beyond genuine dispute that an umpire’s leadership and situation management carried the day in MLB’s promotion decisions.”

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I approach this topic a little differently when it comes around. I have a good deal of experience in umpiring. At the risk of making myself identifiable to internet strangers, I have led large numbers of umpires in local ball, have been to Umpire School in Florida twice, have attended the professional umpire evaluation camp for Minor League Baseball once, was eligible for Minor League call-up one summer, have umpired Division-1 college summer ball in two different leagues, and currently umpire for a semi-pro local league (it's not a hard one to guess). I still have many connections in Minor League ball and a few select connections in Major League ball. Angel is not one of them.

That all said, please don't kill me, but Angel does not deserve the vast amount of heat he gets thrown his way by the population at large. Hopefully this does not become a soap box (it might), but he has gained a reputation somewhere along the line as this awful, attention seeking umpire, when the statistics don't match up to that. I feel that a lot of his hate comes from confirmation bias. In essence, every umpire blows calls, because they're human even if they're the best in the business. When Angel does so though, it's "ohh ANGEL blew another call" rather than "oh those umpires blew another call". He didn't help himself with a naturally polarizing lawsuit that he was both bound to lose, but I'll touch on that too.

Look at some of Angel's most infamous moments - 2001 the ejection of Steve McMichael (Bears player who sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame and blasted him on the PA) was blamed on him when the camera turned to him, despite it being the crew chief's call to eject him, not Angel's. In 2013, Oakland A's home run/double that was not overturned - at the time, this was baseball's infancy of replay review, and they had Hernandez (plus two other umpires, whose names you probably don't know) viewing the replay on a tiny TV screen, trying to make out what was ultimately the difference of about 12-18 inches. Those inches are obvious on the Jumbotron to the fans, or on our HD screens at home, but again, these umpires were watching it on a tiny SD 90s era TV, because MLB had not adequately prepared for the implementation of replay review. Note also that MLB quietly cut ties with the TV sponsor who had provided those TVs, but you don't hear about that either, just that Angel sucks. In 2018, Angel having three calls in one game overturned. Two of these were calls so close that the naked eye literally cannot differentiate, and only one of those was actually a bad call. But "Angel sux lol" is a more enticing headline.

Now look at stats. Angel is one of the most neutral umpires in terms of his zone (https://evanalytics.com/mlb/research/umpire-rankings) and is remarkably average in his statistical rating from 2012-2019, coming in at a higher percentage than either Jim Joyce or Tim McClelland, two who are often hailed as the "best" umpires (https://www.bloomberg.com/businessweek/graphics/baseballs-worst-call-of-the-day/#/umpires).

Angel's lawsuit got him even more flak, and was doomed from the beginning (because he was never going to prove it was race that played into his not being selected, instead of just false perceptions akin to what I described above or any number of other variables), but I cannot say with certainty that it was without merit. Imagine in your position at your job, a minority works in a position for more than 25 years and is generally doing an decent job, with a few moments here and there where he gets flak for things he couldn't control, and an about average number of mistakes. Yet he continually gets passed up for promotions or accolades. Further, three other of your minority coworkers (Laz Diaz, Alfonso Marquez, and Kerwin Danley) are experiencing what seems to be similar treatment. Now add to that that you learn your immediate supervisors have recommended you for those promotions and accolades, but it has been rejected by higher management. That individual you work with would be frustrated too and it would be natural to at least wonder about the race connection. But when it's Angel, it's "LOL Angel sux and he's pulling the race card".

I'm not going to say Angel is perfect or even that he should be in World Series', All Star Games, or be a crew chief. I do think that his on-field game management does him no favors at times and I think at that level there are a LOT of deserving umpires. I'm not paid, nor do I have the time or expertise, to analyze them all and make those judgements. I will say though that the same people who scream and yell for automated strike zones and expanded replay just LOVE to throw a grander sense of objectivity out the window when it is convenient to do so.

I'll step off the soap box now.

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On 4/9/2021 at 6:26 PM, MichiganCardinal said:

Now look at stats. Angel is one of the most neutral umpires in terms of his zone (https://evanalytics.com/mlb/research/umpire-rankings) and is remarkably average in his statistical rating from 2012-2019, coming in at a higher percentage than either Jim Joyce or Tim McClelland, two who are often hailed as the "best" umpires (https://www.bloomberg.com/businessweek/graphics/baseballs-worst-call-of-the-day/#/umpires).

For what it's worth, it's not the "big moments" that cause me to consider Hernandez bad, but the balls/strikes when he's behind the plate.  That said, I will absolutely admit that I've never done any analysis and it's based purely on anecdotal evidence... which is of course the most likely to be influenced by confirmation bias.

That said I don't think the links you've provided really defend Hernandez too much.  The first one simply measures how much an ump tends to favor pitchers vs. batter (I'm assuming this generally means a tighter or looser strike zone).  Being "neutral" here doesn't mean that an umpire is necessarily good, only that he doesn't tend to lean one way or the other.  For an extreme example, if an ump gets 50% of his calls wrong but half of those favor the pitcher and half favor the hitter that's a perfectly neutral ump, but still a bad one.

As for the second link, while it's true that from 2012-2019 the methodology* of that site says that Hernandez is better than the other two mentioned, he's still on page 4 of 5 pages of umps listed, making him in the lower 40%.  Perhaps better than people think, but still not good.

(*I'm not sure what this app is measuring.  I believe that most players and fans understand that each umpire is going to have his own unique "zone" which will probably differ from the official rulebook zone.  I also believe that most players and fans are okay with that to some level as long as it's called consistently and fairly through out the game.  If a pitch a touch on the inside is called a strike, will the ump always call that a strike for both sides?  If so that's at least consistent and predictable.  So is umpire auditor measuring against an established zone by the ump or is it measuring based on the rule book strike zone?  I honestly don't know and it could radically change how I view the stats provided.)

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I have to give Angel credit for making the call on the Euphus pitch by Grienke. I seen pitchers throw it in the zone before and the ump be unprepared for it and not call it. Angel made the call!

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7 hours ago, RedRamage said:

For what it's worth, it's not the "big moments" that cause me to consider Hernandez bad, but the balls/strikes when he's behind the plate.  That said, I will absolutely admit that I've never done any analysis and it's based purely on anecdotal evidence... which is of course the most likely to be influenced by confirmation bias.

That said I don't think the links you've provided really defend Hernandez too much.  The first one simply measures how much an ump tends to favor pitchers vs. batter (I'm assuming this generally means a tighter or looser strike zone).  Being "neutral" here doesn't mean that an umpire is necessarily good, only that he doesn't tend to lean one way or the other.  For an extreme example, if an ump gets 50% of his calls wrong but half of those favor the pitcher and half favor the hitter that's a perfectly neutral ump, but still a bad one.

As for the second link, while it's true that from 2012-2019 the methodology* of that site says that Hernandez is better than the other two mentioned, he's still on page 4 of 5 pages of umps listed, making him in the lower 40%.  Perhaps better than people think, but still not good.

(*I'm not sure what this app is measuring.  I believe that most players and fans understand that each umpire is going to have his own unique "zone" which will probably differ from the official rulebook zone.  I also believe that most players and fans are okay with that to some level as long as it's called consistently and fairly through out the game.  If a pitch a touch on the inside is called a strike, will the ump always call that a strike for both sides?  If so that's at least consistent and predictable.  So is umpire auditor measuring against an established zone by the ump or is it measuring based on the rule book strike zone?  I honestly don't know and it could radically change how I view the stats provided.)

It's fair to question the validity of the first link, though I think it is interesting at least to see Angel in the middle of the pack of any quantitative rankings. Kind of like I said in my conclusion though (and no offense taken if you didn't get there, it was a true soap box), I'm not saying Hernandez deserves praise or that he is one of the best or that he deserves World Series and ASG nods. I'm saying this narrative that he is the absolute worst and that MLB should be embarrassed for not having fired him ten or twenty years ago is wildly hyperbolic.

It starts with the players, who don't know the first thing about umpiring, being asked to rate umpires and/or comment publicly on their performances. They jump on this train of thought, the media jumps on behind them, and it leads to things like Hernandez being thought of as the unequivocal worst umpire in the game because of those large moments, which he isn't, or Jim Joyce being thought of as the best in the game when he retired because of the Galarraga perfect game, which he isn't. Then confirmation bias comes in and we don't pay attention to Angel's good games behind the plate or when Joyce blew a call (beyond the brief recognition of his name). Then it just cycles. Media articles run on the former's bad games and announcers pull the "OH there goes Angel!" card, while the latter goes unnoticed.

In reality, the best and worst any given year fluctuates wildly and the margin is extremely slim. It's also worth mention that the Umpire Auditor Twitter account being used in the OP does not cite its sources for pitch hits/misses or for distances. If I had to take a wild stab based on that account's history, it's probably not giving the benefit of the doubt on any borderline pitches (of which there are plenty, most of which no one says a peep on) to the umpire. With a 3D strike zone that differs based on each hitter's swing and depends on a ball going 80-100mph, crossing through the two planes of the zone in milliseconds, it's not as easy as that account would like to make us believe to say with 100% certainty what each pitch objectively is, even as far as technology has come.

Here is a good article on the K Zone and its flaws, particularly when trying to give a single number as a gauge for how good an umpire is. 

https://www.closecallsports.com/2018/10/uefl-fx-vs-k-zone-and-player-umpire.html 

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Here's a good article too from the same site cited above as to my feelings about Angel...

Quote

Angel Hernandez Trends on Day 1 of Spring as Sports Toxicity Returns to 2021 Season

By Gil Imber

Umpire Angel Hernandez trended on Twitter on Day 1 of Spring Training, receiving a flurry of vitriol and criticism after St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster Dan McLaughlin took issue with a ball/strike call that turned out to be correct, according to the computerized graphical strike zone the media generally enjoys referring to when an umpire's call is at odds with a team's preference.

The controversial call occurred during the top of the 1st inning of St. Louis' game against the Washington Nationals when Hernandez ruled a 1-1 pitch from Jack Flaherty low for ball two, a call that appeared to be supported by computerized graphics in use by MLB's own website.
 
Nonetheless, Hernandez's correct call elicited a barrage of personal tweets from baseball fandom attacking the veteran umpire—in the top of the first inning, of the first game of spring.

As we have noted time and time again using the article label "Umpire Abuse," the sports world suffers from severe issues, including a harmful cultural attitude toward its officials.
 
In Hernandez's case, the existence of a lawsuit filed against Major League Baseball alleging discrimination based on race and national origin complicates matters in a way that compounds the abuse he, as an umpire, receives.
 
For instance, the consequence and character of Hernandez's pitch call in the first inning Sunday—very likely his first borderline call of 2021—in no way corresponded to the level of backlash he received (online...in the stadium, there was no such negative reaction). In other words, Hernandez's history influenced what occurred virtually, and largely for reasons previously discussed.
 
Hernandez, through his audacity in attempting to challenge a potentially oppressive system that sees a tremendous underrepresentation of Latino umpires relative to players (27% Latino players / 5% Latino umpires at the time of Hernandez's 2017 filing), or Crew Chiefs outright (0% Latino crew chiefs at the time of his filing), has drawn the scorn of a sports world not ready to reconcile a potentially uncomfortable reality that marginalization exists.

And for the crime of standing up for himself, it hardly comes as a surprise that Hernandez remains a favorite target of online bullying, personal attacks, and unmeritorious insults.
 
Oddly enough, McLaughin's quip that Hernandez was in "midseason form" actually was correct after all: the umpire correctly ruled a borderline pitch out of the strike zone and it is statistically true that umpires tend to get most calls right.

https://www.closecallsports.com/2021/02/angel-hernandez-trends-on-day-1-of.html

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This also seems like it would fit here:

 

Quote

 

Umpire Joe West awarded $500,000 in defamation suit against former All-Star Paul Lo Duca

NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball umpire Joe West was awarded $500,000 in damages plus interest dating to July 8 in a defamation suit against former All-Star catcher Paul Lo Duca.

New York Supreme Court Justice John J. Kelley issued his decision Monday in a lawsuit West filed in October 2019 against Lo Duca and The Action Network. The network was dismissed from the suit last July, when Kelley granted a motion by West for a default judgment against Lo Duca.

West contended that Lo Duca said during an April 18, 2019, podcast on The Action Network that he had been ejected 15 times during his major league career and eight or nine had been by West.

West's suit claimed Lo Duca said during the podcast that when the player was catching Billy Wagner during a New York Mets game against the Philadelphia Phillies in 2006 or 2007, West called three straight batters out on strikes. The umpire added that Lo Duca claimed Wagner told him the reason he got the calls was the pitcher had allowed West to drive his 1957 Chevy.

West's suit said Lo Duca was ejected eight times in his career and only once by West. The umpire denied any favoritism and said Wagner did not pitch in the only Mets-Phillies game that West worked behind the plate during 2006 and 2007.

"The court credits the plaintiff's testimony that one's integrity and character are primary measures that are applied to the assessment of an umpire's or player's quality and, thus, the consideration that he will be given for election to, and induction into, the Hall of Fame," Kelley wrote. "The plaintiff expressed a legitimate concern that, if Hall of Fame voters credited Lo Duca's false assertion regarding his integrity and character, he might not be elected for induction into the Hall of Fame for the same reasons as otherwise excellent players 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, and Barry Bonds had or have not been elected.

"He also expressed concern that it would be difficult to completely repair his reputation, particularly because a special committee of baseball executives and former players chosen by the directors of the Hall of Fame is responsible for selecting umpires for induction into the Hall of Fame."

West, 66, is the major league's senior umpire. He debuted in 1976, became a full-time staff member two years later and began this season with 5,345 games umpired, on track to break Bill Klem's career record of 5,370 later this year. The judge said West intends to retire at the end of this season.

"Given the widespread dissemination of the defamatory statement at issue here, the nature of the statement, and the legitimate anxiety that the plaintiff suffered in connection with the possibility that he will not be elected to the Hall of Fame because of the statement," Kelley wrote, "the court concludes that the plaintiff is entitled to an award of $250,000 for past mental anguish and emotional distress."

Kelley added an additional $250,000, which he said based on expert testimony "is a reasonable sum to compensate the plaintiff for expenses he will need to incur in retaining a public relations firm to formulate and operationalize a sufficient reputation remediation plan."

Kelley said West did not establish he will lose appearance and endorsement income because of Lo Duca's statements.

A four-time All-Star, Lo Duca played in the major leagues from 1998 to 2008.

 

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/31246281/umpire-joe-west-awarded-500000-defamation-suit-former-all-star-paul-lo-duca

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On 4/9/2021 at 6:26 PM, MichiganCardinal said:

I approach this topic a little differently when it comes around. I have a good deal of experience in umpiring. At the risk of making myself identifiable to internet strangers, I have led large numbers of umpires in local ball, have been to Umpire School in Florida twice, have attended the professional umpire evaluation camp for Minor League Baseball once, was eligible for Minor League call-up one summer, have umpired Division-1 college summer ball in two different leagues, and currently umpire for a semi-pro local league (it's not a hard one to guess). I still have many connections in Minor League ball and a few select connections in Major League ball. Angel is not one of them.

That all said, please don't kill me, but Angel does not deserve the vast amount of heat he gets thrown his way by the population at large. Hopefully this does not become a soap box (it might), but he has gained a reputation somewhere along the line as this awful, attention seeking umpire, when the statistics don't match up to that. I feel that a lot of his hate comes from confirmation bias. In essence, every umpire blows calls, because they're human even if they're the best in the business. When Angel does so though, it's "ohh ANGEL blew another call" rather than "oh those umpires blew another call". He didn't help himself with a naturally polarizing lawsuit that he was both bound to lose, but I'll touch on that too.

Look at some of Angel's most infamous moments - 2001 the ejection of Steve McMichael (Bears player who sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame and blasted him on the PA) was blamed on him when the camera turned to him, despite it being the crew chief's call to eject him, not Angel's. In 2013, Oakland A's home run/double that was not overturned - at the time, this was baseball's infancy of replay review, and they had Hernandez (plus two other umpires, whose names you probably don't know) viewing the replay on a tiny TV screen, trying to make out what was ultimately the difference of about 12-18 inches. Those inches are obvious on the Jumbotron to the fans, or on our HD screens at home, but again, these umpires were watching it on a tiny SD 90s era TV, because MLB had not adequately prepared for the implementation of replay review. Note also that MLB quietly cut ties with the TV sponsor who had provided those TVs, but you don't hear about that either, just that Angel sucks. In 2018, Angel having three calls in one game overturned. Two of these were calls so close that the naked eye literally cannot differentiate, and only one of those was actually a bad call. But "Angel sux lol" is a more enticing headline.

Now look at stats. Angel is one of the most neutral umpires in terms of his zone (https://evanalytics.com/mlb/research/umpire-rankings) and is remarkably average in his statistical rating from 2012-2019, coming in at a higher percentage than either Jim Joyce or Tim McClelland, two who are often hailed as the "best" umpires (https://www.bloomberg.com/businessweek/graphics/baseballs-worst-call-of-the-day/#/umpires).

Angel's lawsuit got him even more flak, and was doomed from the beginning (because he was never going to prove it was race that played into his not being selected, instead of just false perceptions akin to what I described above or any number of other variables), but I cannot say with certainty that it was without merit. Imagine in your position at your job, a minority works in a position for more than 25 years and is generally doing an decent job, with a few moments here and there where he gets flak for things he couldn't control, and an about average number of mistakes. Yet he continually gets passed up for promotions or accolades. Further, three other of your minority coworkers (Laz Diaz, Alfonso Marquez, and Kerwin Danley) are experiencing what seems to be similar treatment. Now add to that that you learn your immediate supervisors have recommended you for those promotions and accolades, but it has been rejected by higher management. That individual you work with would be frustrated too and it would be natural to at least wonder about the race connection. But when it's Angel, it's "LOL Angel sux and he's pulling the race card".

I'm not going to say Angel is perfect or even that he should be in World Series', All Star Games, or be a crew chief. I do think that his on-field game management does him no favors at times and I think at that level there are a LOT of deserving umpires. I'm not paid, nor do I have the time or expertise, to analyze them all and make those judgements. I will say though that the same people who scream and yell for automated strike zones and expanded replay just LOVE to throw a grander sense of objectivity out the window when it is convenient to do so.

I'll step off the soap box now.

Advocating due process for Angel Hernandez?  You're fired.

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