Officiating in the MLB has been a topic of discussion for quite some time now and it has been less than stellar in 2023. Probably the most well-known and biggest culprit of the poor officiating is the infamous Angel Hernandez. He is constantly making rounds on social media with long videos of his terribly inaccurate eye behind the plate, his blatantly wrong calls, and his lack of remorse when he is confronted for his clearly botched officiating.
Queue the latest chapter in the Angel Hernandez vs The Phillies saga. In the bottom of the third inning, Bryce Harper stepped up to the plate against hard throwing right-handed pitcher Luis Ortiz. Harper worked the count full when Ortiz threw a slider low and inside. As Harper has done many times before, he went to swing but clearly held up. As Harper started to drop his bat and make his way to first base, he heard the crowd groan and saw Hernandez, who was manning the third base umpire spot, call a swinging strike three. Harper was irate. He immediately made his way to Hernandez arguing and yelling along the way. The embarrassed umpire threw Harper out of the game, ending his night prematurely.
This, unfortunately, is nothing new for Angel Hernandez. When confronted with gripes about making a wrong call, he shutters and throws out the opposing arguing party. In his post-game comments, Harper shared his thoughts as well.
Harper and other players see the trend from Hernandez year after year, but nothing seems to change. In fact, even when the evidence proves he makes the incorrect call, the umpire is not reprimanded nor does MLB as an organization try to make it right or apologize. There is no action and Hernandez is free to continue affecting outcomes of Major League Baseball games.
Phillie fans will remember the last blow up a Phillies player had with Hernandez. Last year, against the Brewers, Hernandez was wildly inconsistent with his strike zone and after a called third strike late in the game to Kyle Schwarber, Schwarber exploded. Slamming his bat down and yelling at Hernandez while actually “going to bat” for both teams at how terrible the ump was performing.
According to Umpire Scorecard X/Twitter account, Angel Hernandez consistently hovers around 87% Called Strike Accuracy, going as low as 67% on September 14th when he was behind home plate for a Nationals vs Pirates game. Most other umpires, graded on the same scale, are consistently in the upper 90s% on Called Strike Accuracy.
Officiating isn’t a new problem in the MLB and Angel Hernandez is the face of it. Something needs to change before an important game, maybe even a playoff game, is decided by one of these egregious calls.