Bill Hohn is cheating on Bobby Cox!
Ah, Billy Hohn. I think he’s the worst umpire in baseball. I will admit a bias — he has ejected nine people this year, and five of them are Braves (counting Bobby Cox twice). He is really the perfect storm of bad umpiring. He has a quick temper, and a quick trigger, he baits players, and above all he is bad at his job. You could deal with the rest if it wasn’t for that. Take for instance, this pitch plot:
The green dot was the third pitch of a four-pitch AB by J.D. Drew against Braves reliever Eric O’Flaherty. The count was 0-2; Drew took the pitch, which was, as you see, clearly a strike. Hohn, because he is bad at his job, called it a ball. Drew hit the next pitch off the wall in left field to give the Red Sox the lead. O’Flaherty, and Cox, were understandably upset. Hohn, as I wrote in my recap of that game, “went crazy” and ejected both of them and went up the third-base line to eject Chipper Jones as well. Ejecting a team’s best player when he’s standing sixty feet away is certainly going overboard. Later in the year, he ejected Cox and Brian McCann, the Braves’ other offensive star. McCann was upset when Hohn called a strike against him on a pitch that was a good foot outside; this came after spending most of the game calling a tiny strike zone. A glimpse — I haven’t studied in detail — of pitch charts from Hohn’s games shows that he normally does call a small strike zone, with many pitches that if not right down the middle are in the middle section of the zone called balls. This is the same game that ended with his now-infamous fist bump with Marlin catcher John Baker, which certainly gave the appearance of impropriety. Is it any wonder that I wrote that Hohn “seems to have a vendetta against the Braves”?He has ejected more Braves than anyone else this year, but I’m guessing he leads the majors in ejections generally. There have been 121 ejections this year; Hohn is responsible for nine, or seven percent. There are 96 umpires in the majors; not all of them are full-time, but obviously Hohn has ejected far more than his share. He’s ejected more than his entire crew’s share.
Last night wasn’t a balls and strikes issue. He ejected Bruce Bochy for arguing about two calls at first base. I can’t find video, but in one instance it seems that the hitter beat the throw to the bag, and in the other that the first baseman both dropped the ball and came off the bag. Bochy was rightly furious; Hohn was his usual arrogant self. I wonder if the other umpires are getting fed up with having to defend him; note Gary Darling’s comments and actions in the “fist bump” story linked above. If the past is any guide, we’ll be dealing with Hohn again.