Nope, the postseason umpires were not picked based on their umpiring skills


Last week, when we learned that Joe West, one of baseball’s worst umpires, was named crew chief for the ALCS, I suspected that postseason assignments were based on seniority rather than quality of work. I cited one study that bore this out, showing that West was near the bottom of all umps in his balls-and-strikes skills, and of course, we all know that he has his issues when it comes to temperament and game management.

Today Ben Lindbergh of Grantland presents much, much more comprehensive data about all of that, expanding things to cover all of the postseason umps and comparing their accuracy with that of younger umpires who were not chosen, one assumes, due to their lack of seniority. The results are pretty clear: younger umps are more accurate, generally speaking, and the guys chosen for the playoffs over the past few years have been less accurate.

Lindbergh examines the differences more deeply in an attempt to figure out why, exactly, this is. Those results are a lot more mixed — no, the old umps aren’t calling a wide 1990s zone and the creep of the zone down is something to which all umps apparently contribute — but it’s nonetheless illuminating.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.