Somebody Eject Hunter Wendelstedt

Posted Saturday June 1, 2013 at 5:29:32 pm in Real Sports

On June 1, 2013 a struggling Jason Hammel threw a slider that hit Matt Tuiasosopo on the shoulder after giving up 3 home runs in a row...and was immediately ejected by home plate umpire Huner Wendelstedt. But was it necessary?

By itself it looks like a no brainer. Allowing back-to-back-to-back home runs usually gets under a pitcher's skin. And that usually results in the next batter getting a fastball thrown at them. 

But that 4 batter progression (3 home runs and hit batsmen) is just a small portion of the game. Looking at the total body of Jason Hammel's "work" during the game paints a different story. A story that really does call into question Hunter Wendelstedt's judgement.

Back on July 4th, 2012 Deadspin ran an article called "Better Know An Umpire: Hunter Wendelstedt". And in that article was this little gem quoted from Andy Goldblatt (from a scouting report of MLB umpires):

His career ejection rate is 3.2 percent, much higher than average, and has remained at that level since 2007 despite the downward trend among his peers. (His father's career ejection rate was 1.9 percent.) Why the high ejection rate from the scion of a highly-regarded umpiring family? One anonymous team's answer was revealed in May 2010: "Inconsistent zone, both in-game and from game to game, seemingly losing focus at times by balling pitches over middle and calling strikes on pitches well off plate. Seems to want hitter to put ball in play."

Is this Keith Law's Umpire Show in action?

I'm going to say yes.

Let's analyze the situation. You have Hunter Wendelstedt, notorious for ejecting players and managers. It's a 4-1 game after Jason Hammel has given up back-to-back-to-back home runs. It's 91-94 degrees outside and very humid. To that point Hammel had thrown 62 pitches in 3 innings + 3 batters in the 4th. Of those 62 pitches only 32 of them were for strikes. That's a strike rate of only 52%. Hammel walked 3 batters. His fastball command was off. His slider command was off. And on that hit batsmen Matt Wieters was setting up low and outside. 

If you want to hit a batter after giving up 3 runs in a close game (was only 4-1), why would you do it with a slider? And why would you do it in the first place? Furthermore, why on Earth would Hunter Wendelstedt be so quick to eject Hammel without warning both clubs? To "prevent" retaliation? Guess what, retaliation could come tomorrow. It's just an inane decision by Wendelstedt, and yet another situation where the #umpshow continues to go on. 

Of course a pitcher is always going to deny throwing at a hitter (unless they're stupid), but Jason Hammel had this to say:

It depends on what pitch is being thrown. There was zero intent there. That's all I have to say about that.

Even Jim Leyland, the Detroit Tigers manager, didn't say it was intentional:

In my heart, I do not think he was throwing at him.

But the #umpshow must go on. And umpires will defend umpires. And Crew Chief Jerry Layne had this to say:

They claim there was no intent. Three home runs and a guy gets hit, you're an umpire, what do you do?

"He then went up to cite cited Rule 8.0.2.1 saying ump can deem if the pitch is intentional, especially at the head, no warnings need to be given." This is from Eduardo Encina on Twitter.

Layne went on to say the following:

That's when we feel we have to control the game & to control the game to keep a retaliation from occurring, that?s what happens.

Hey Jerry, I know you need to defend your umpires (that's what unions are for, I guess?), but Wendelstedt had a knee jerk reaction very much in line with his ejection rate. Want to prevent retaliation? Warn both sides. 

When a guy has walked 3 guys in 3 innings, lacks command, and then threw a slider that was supposed to be low and away on a hot and muggy day in Baltimore in a still close and early game, I have to question Wendelstedt's situational awareness.

And if I can see it, I think most can.

Hopefully MLB doesn't issue any suspensions or fines Hammel's way, because that would be beyond idiotic.

Time for the #umpshow to end.

The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer’s view