[Guest Post] Umpire Preview: 2019 American League Championship Series

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(Ed Note: Once again, we are excited to have Adam Seth Moss on here for his umpire preview for the series. Here was his ALDS preview and here you can find some of his guest posts back on River Avenue Blues.)

It is time for the American League Championship Series in 2019. Now it is a game of seven umpires and changing replay umpires. Under the ALCS format, there is one dedicated replay umpire that switches in Game 3. Let’s get down to work.

Bill Welke (No. 3 – Home Plate Game 1/Replay Games 3-7)

The younger brother of the now retired Tim Welke, Bill Welke took his no. 3 after being no. 52 for so many years. Welke gets the Game 1 assignment and will be working in the replay booth for Games 3-7. Welke in the 2019 season had a 4.46 ERA with a 1.36 WHIP. Batters had a 8.4H/9, 3.8BB/9 (high) and 8.1K/9 (low). This is screaming hitters umpire. The batting line of .245/.327/.453 backups those statistics. These numbers are much higher than his 2018 numbers, which screams juiced ball inflation. In 2018, Welke had a 3.99 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 8.5H&K/9 and 3.0BB/9. Batters had a .249/.313/.405 line. So, we have a hitters umpire. Welke is also the first umpire this season with a losing record in replay. Welke had a .368 batting average with replay (7 out of 19 standing/correct; 12 overturned). That’s pretty lousy, but it is not something worth bashing over.

The native of Coldwater, Michigan and brother-in-law of umpire Jeff Kellogg (No. 8), Welke made his MLB debut on June 4, 1999 in an interleague game between the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals working under the great Jim McKean’s crew. This is his fourth League Championship Series (2014, 2016 and 2017), none of which involved the Yankees. He has called two games behind home plate in those three LCSs. Welke has 92 ejections in his career (none of Ron Gardenhire), including five this year. As for former Yankees, his only Yankees ejections were of Joe Girardi, twice. On June 24, 2009, he threw Girardi out for arguing a pickoff of Brett Gardner. On May 3, 2017, Girardi was tossed by Welke for arguing balls and strikes.

Cory Blaser (No. 89 – HP Game 2)

Corey Blaser is a rising star in umpires and this is his first League Championship Series. He worked the Wild Card Game in 2015 and three consecutive LDSes from 2016-2018. If you’re into juiced baseball affected stats, then this is the umpire for you. In 2019, Blaser had a 5.28 ERA (9th of 89) and a 1.55 WHIP (!). Hitters had a whopping 10.6 hits per 9 innings in 2019, with an average 3.4 walks per 9 innings and a high 9.5 strikeouts per 9. If the high hits and strikeouts rates doesn’t scream 2019 baseball, I don’t know what does. Batters have a .295/.356/.490 batting line.  Just for comparison, Cory Blaser in 2018 was 68th of 89 umpires with a 3.80 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 8.4H/9, 3BB/9 and 8.7K/9, .245/.310/.405 batting line. Woof. As for replay, Blaser had an 8-6 record in 14 runs to the bunker in Chelsea. This results in a .571 batting line.

One of the youngest umpires in tenure, the native of Denver, Colorado made his MLB debut on April 24, 2010 in a doubleheader between the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins as part of Joe West’s crew. Former Yankees and Jason Giambi and Troy Tulowitzki were in the Rockies lineup. Blaser has no ejections of former Yankees in his 14. In fact, 12 of his ejections were all in the National League. The two non-NL ones were Alex Rios with the White sox and Gene Glynn with the Twins. Again, should be reasonable.

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Jeff Nelson (No. 45 – CC / HP Game 3)

The crew chief rule means that the Game 3 umpire goes to the chief. This time around it is Jeff Nelson (no, not the former Yankee). Again, a rising star, this time among crew chiefs, Nelson is given the title in his eighth Championship series. Nelson had a 4.92 ERA (22nd out of 89), 1.36 WHIP, 8.3H/9, 3.9BB/9 (that’s high) and a 7.2K/9 (that’s low as heck) line. Batters had a .245/.326/.446 batting line with Nelson. These numbers scream average, which is probably what you want, but yet again, favors the batters. The problem is again, the 2018 numbers are a stark difference, with a 3.72 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 8.1H/9, 3.5BB/9, 8.3K/9, .241/.319/.385 line. The ERA is 77th of 89, in comparison to 22nd in 2019. Regardless, both numbers match an average umpire. In his replay statistics, he had a good season with a 7-3 record in 10 calls to Chelsea.

The native of St. Paul, Minnesota made his MLB debut on May 9, 1997 in a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Montreal Expos as part of Bruce Froemming’s crew. He has 65 ejections since his MLB debut, only one of which is of a former Yankee. Yet again, it is Joe Girardi. Nelson tossed him in the 2012 Game 2 of the League Championship Series on a clear whiff at 2B with Robinson Cano making a tag of Omar Infante.  (Girardi was right, by the way, and the runner scored, just to continue the bleeding.) Let us hope for no repeat.

Dan Bellino (No. 2 – HP Game 4)

Well, thankfully we get Dan Bellino for Game 4, because it means neither top pitcher will be dealing. Bellino is a pitcher’s umpire and a very inconsistent one at that. During the 2019 season, Bellino has a 4.12 ERA (59th of 89) and 1.4 WHIP and a line of 8.3H/9 (low), 4.3BB/9 (!!!), and 10.3K/9 (!!!!). Hoo boy. Those last two are striking differences from each other. Usually if the walk rate is high, the strikeout rate is down and vice versa. These are complete contrasts. Batters had a .241/.333/.405 batting line with Bellino behind the plate. Goes without saying that Bellino’s 2018 numbers are somewhat better, a 3.7 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. The lineups there have a 7.3H/9, 2.9BB/9 and 8.4K/9 and a .218/.285/.389 batting line. Yay, pitcher’s umpire. At the Chelsea bunker, Bellino had 23 calls go there, 13 of which went his way. This counts for a .565 batting average.

The native of Chicago, Illinois made his MLB debut on June 25, 2008 in a game between the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles at Wrigley Field. The only notable names is the future former Yankee Brian Roberts on the Os and Ted Lilly starting for the Cubs in that game (followed by Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood). This is his first Championship Series. He has 39 ejections in his career, two of which are Yankees, both on the same game. On June 7, 2015, CC Sabathia argued balls and strikes and Joe Girardi was ejected defending him. (Warning, video has lots of audible profanity.)

Kerwin Danley (No. 44 – HP Game 5(if necessary))

The former long-time right-hand man of Joe West has the Game 5 assignment for this series. If you want differing dichotomies in the concept of the current zeitgeist, then we have a case study for you. In the face of juiced ball, Kerwin Danley managed to have a supreme pitchers umpire statistical line. Danley had a 3.26 ERA (85th of 89), 1.16 WHIP, 7.9H/9, 2.6BB/9, 9.6K/9 (high), with a .234/.289/.384 batting line. These fly in the face of 2018 numbers, which is total hitters umpire. The 2018 numbers are a 5.16 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 9.5H/9, 3.3BB/9, 8.3K/9. This is compounded by a .268/.334/.448 batting line. Other than strikeouts, there was nothing to scream normal juiced ball affected numbers. Weird. In replay, Danley had 14 calls go to the bunker, with an 11-3 (.786 record, seventh best in baseball).

The native of Los Angeles, California is the most senior umpire of the crew despite not being the crew chief. Hired by the National League, Danley made his MLB debut on June 12, 1992 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in a game between the Braves and San Diego Padres. Despite the long tenure, this is only his second Championship Series. The other was in 2007 between the Red Sox and Indians. Danley has mellowed out over time as an umpire, with all of 45 ejections in his career, none of which are of Yankees. He has one of a Met, Matt Franco on September 1, 1998 over a called third strike. That is it. He is more notable for having been knocked unconscious by a bat by former Rangers DH Hank Blalock that split on a Roy Halladay pitch. Unfortunately, Danley’s injury history has been lengthy since then.

Mark Carlson (No. 6 – HP Game 6(if necessary))

Mark Carlson has the Game 6 plate, if we get that far. This is also a game of differing dichotomies. In 2019, Carlson had a 4.56 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 8.2H/9, 4.1BB/9(!) and 9.2K/9. If you remember, I mentioned on Bellino’s that a high walk rate should mean a lowered strikeout rate. While 9.2K/9 is above average, this is more what I was referring to. Batters had a .238/.319/.399 batting line with Carlson behind the plate. Much like Danley, Carlson was a complete, 100% hitter’s umpire in 2018. He had a 5.03 ERA (5th of 89) and a 1.47 WHIP, 9.2H/9, 4.0BB/9 and 8.0K/9. Those numbers match the point I made earlier. The batting line was .266/.344/.441. Hitter’s umpire yet again. As for his replays in Chelsea, Carlson had 16 calls reviewed, nine of which were overturned (.438 batting line).

Carlson, a native of Joliet, Illinois, made his MLB debut on June 11, 1999 at Wrigley Field during the interleague series between the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs. That day he was working with Ed Montague’s crew. He has 58 ejections in his career, only one of which was of former Yankees. Current YES Network and Fox Sports Florida analyst Jeff Nelson was tossed on August 7, 2000 for throwing at a batter. Nothing really special about Mark Carlson, just your average umpire who has a preference for the hitter.

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Marvin Hudson (No. 51 – Replay Games 1-2/HP Game 7(if necessary))

Marvin Hudson gets the winner-take-all game in this series. Marvin Hudson is someone who is a pretty meh umpire but is known for an inconsistent strike zone. Yet again we have an umpire that favors the hitters. In 2019, batters had a 5.44 ERA with a 1.53 WHIP. Batters have a 9.7H/9, 4.0BB/9 and 8.8K/9 average with .275/.350/.466 line. If the Yankees hitters can layoff Gerrit Cole pitches, then they should benefit from his strike zone. The 2018 numbers are meh, with a 4.26 ERA (33rd of 89), 1.32 WHIP, 8.1H/9, 3.7BB/9 and 8.2K/9, .240/.321/.387 batting line. These numbers are very meh, but it is clear 2019 baseball has affected Hudson’s zone. 12 calls have gone to the bunker in Chelsea and eight were upheld (.667 batting line).

The native of Marietta, Georgia, Hudson made his MLB debut on July 29, 1998 at Veterans Stadium in a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers as part of Pat Connors’ crew. He is in his second ever League Championship Series, the first in 2014, playing between Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals. He has 50 ejections and that is somewhat inflated. His most ejections at one time came in 2010, but that was because of the famous Chris Volstad/Nyjer Morgan/Gaby Sanchez brawl. None of them are of Yankees and there was all of one Met, Paul Lo Duca on June 23, 2007.

Conclusion

There is not much to say here. Unlike the ALDS where we had a pitcher’s umpire crew chief and a crew that heavily favoured the pitchers, we have a complete hitter’s umpire crew save for Dan Bellino. This would also probably qualify as a very lackluster crew as most of them are not big names, which is the best. When an umpire is anonymous, it usually means they are doing their jobs correctly. Good luck to the Yankees.

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1 Comment

  1. BillyMartinVanBuren Boys

    Folks I am grown ass man with two children and I feel like I’m going to vomit 9 hours before first pitch….LFG!

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