I know Angel Hernandez is a bad umpire. You know Angel Hernandez is a bad umpire. Heck, I presume that everyone affiliated with Major League Baseball in one way or another knows it too.
Thing is, you just rarely hear anyone come out and say it.
Well, Ron Washington came out and said it last night after both he and Rangers first base coach Gary Pettis were ejected in the seventh inning of last night’s Marlins-Rangers game after arguing that Marlins’ pitcher Mike Dunn had balked when Nelson Cruz was picked off first base and caught in a rundown:
“Angel is just bad,” Washington said. “That’s all there is to it.”
Here’s the whole exchange, including the no-call on the balk and the subsequent argument. I think it was a balk. If you watch the last replay of it toward the end of the video (the one with the overhead angle from the third base side) you can tell that he came way farther toward home with this front leg than is allowed before going to first. Of course, balks are some of the most inconsistently-called plays in baseball, so I imagine that if Hernandez had called it a balk there, there would have been an equally colorful argument from Jack McKeon.
But we can all agree that Angel Hernandez is a bad umpire, right? We can also agree that Washington is probably going to get fined for the bill of his cap smacking the bill of Hernandez’s cap, right? And that we’ll never hear publicly about Hernandez getting disciplined for bad calls?
Great moments in scouting. MLB.com’s Richard Justice spoke to an unnamed scout about the Astros, currently holding the American League’s best record at 76-47. The scout said that the Astros strike out too much and it will catch up with them. Justice pointed out that the Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball. The scout responded, “I don’t believe that.”
Justice, of course, is correct. The average major league team has struck out 1,006 times entering Sunday’s action. The Astros have by far the lowest total at 827, followed by the Indians at 881 and the Pirates at 882.
This scout doesn’t represent all scouts, but this is one of the major problems that advocates of statistics were trying to highlight before Sabermetrics became popular a decade ago. It’s a pattern. Person believes thing. Person either cherry-picks evidence to defend belief or is shown evidence that belief is not factually true and ignores it. Person refuses to change belief, using one of many excuses.
The other problem this highlights is the fallacy of “the eye test,” which is shorthand for treating a scout’s observations as sacrosanct due to his or her experience and knowledge of the game. In this case, the scout ignored easily accessed information, went with his gut, and turned out to be completely wrong. Furthermore, if “the eye test” were legit, the scout would’ve known that, for example, Yulieski Gurriel and Jose Altuve hardly ever strike out (11.1 and 12.4 percent strikeout rates, respectively). In fact, no one on the Astros’ roster (min. 230 PA) has a strikeout rate above 21 percent; the league average is 21.5 percent.
This isn’t to impugn the practice of scouting as a whole. There are a lot of things scouts can tell you about a player that data cannot and that has value. But for easily-researched claims like “the Astros strike out too much,” there’s no reason to trust a scout over the stats.
The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.
Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.
The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.