The 2023 MLB season has officially hit the stretch run, which means it's time for us to evaluate the league's umpires. We've all noticed how bad umpiring has been across baseball over the past few seasons and calls for robotic strike zones have only increased. In 2023, umps also had the added pressure of having to enforce MLB's new rules, which added a new layer of potential conflict.
Most people grade umpires on how they do when the draw assignments behind the plate, because that's where they make the most impact on games. Luckily, it's not hard for us to judge them, thanks to the folks at Ump Scorecards.
There are several metrics to grade umpires by. The first is accuracy, which is the percentage of pitches called correctly. The other is CCAx, or correct calls above expected, which is the difference between actual correct calls and expected correct calls. Consistency is the percentage of calls inconsistent with the established umpire zone, and favor is the difference between the home team's run expectancy impact and that of the away team.
With that in mind, here's our ranking of the 10 worst MLB umpires for 2023 (our 2022 list can be found here).
1. Angel Hernandez
Hernandez missed most of the 2023 season due to a medical issue, but when he came back he was in midseason form. It didn't take long for him to re-establish himself as the worst umpire in MLB history, specifically with his horrible work behind the plate.
It only took two games for Hernandez to give himself the second-worst correct call rate behind the plate for the 2023 season at 92.11 percent accuracy. He has also missed calls on the bases and just generally been terrible. Remember, this is the guy MLB has publicly claimed is a bad umpire. Somehow he still has a job. He remains at No. 1 in 2023.
2. C.B. Bucknor
Bucknor has continued to be an absolute joke behind the plate this season. The man many MLB players refer to as the worst umpire in the league isn't getting any better. In 17 graded games behind the plate in 2023, Bucknor has gotten 92.8 percent of ball/strike calls correct. Bucknor's CCAx number is -21.9. That's awful.
The 60-year-old is known to have a huge strike zone, but is wildly inconsistent with it. His over-the-top strikeout call also drives hitters crazy. He's horrible and comes in at No. 2 again this year.
3. Hunter Wendelstedt
Our biggest riser this season, Hunter Wendelstedt might be the worst umpire behind the place in the majors. His accuracy rate of 92.6 percent is the lowest among regular umpires, and his CCAx is also the worst at -40.6. Translation: he gets a ton of calls wrong and has no business behind the plate. He also missed calls by a lot. In June, he missed called a strike that was low by 5.56 inches. It was the worst miss on a low pitch this season.
Just to break down how bad he is, among MLB umpires, Wendelstedt ranks in the third percentile accuracy, fourth in accuracy above expected and sixth in consistency. He's so damn bad and he's also the first to rip off his mask and yell at anyone questioning him. A lethal combo. Despite his track record, he's worked four League Championship Series and a World Series.
4. Laz Diaz
Diaz is always on these lists and there's a reason. The short answer? He's really bad at his job. In 12 graded games this season, Diaz has an accuracy rate of 92.6, the same has Wendelstedt. His CCAx is -20.8. His accuracy rate ranks in the fifth percentile, he's in the third percentile in accuracy above expected, he's in the 42nd percentile in consistency and tends to wildly favor home teams, as he ranks in the eight percentile in that category.
Diaz is another guy who hates to be questioned, no matter how bad he is. He's a veteran bad umpire, so leave him alone and let him be awful in peace. The 60-year-old has been terrible at his job for 23 seasons now. Don't expect any improvement. MLB seemingly hasn't noticed how bad Diaz is, he's a crew chief and has worked three World Series and four League Championship Series.
5. Doug Eddings
Eddings is another guy who is always on this lists and, while he's really bad, it's not just his lack of accuracy that makes him a terrible umpire. Eddings is known for ripping off his mask and getting into it with anyone who questions him, and he has a quick hook. He's continually escalating situations rather than diffusing them.
On the season, Eddings' accuracy sits at 93.1 percent, and his CCAx is -25.1. He's in the 14th percentile in accuracy, 11th in accuracy above expected, 35th in consistency and 25th in favor. Eddings missed 29 calls during one game in 2022. That's not a typo.
Umpires get reports on their inaccuracy. How can I get who knows he's missed that many calls in a single game ever get made at a player or coach who questions his zone? Hubris, that's how.
6. Ron Kulpa
Kulpa is the guy best known for getting head-butted by Carl Everett back in 2000, but current major leaguers know him as one of the worst umpires in the business. Behind the plate, Kulpa has a 92.7 percent accuracy rate and a CCAx of -25.1. He ranks in the eight percentile in accuracy, sixth in accuracy above expected and 10th in consistency. He's another long-timer with a temper and a quick hook.
Despite how terrible he is, Kulpa has gotten some pretty great assignments. He's umped three League Championship Series and two World Series (2011, 2021). He was even named a crew chief in 2022. Which is hilarious. In 2019, he famously went looking for a fight with the Astros. Video below:
And then there was a situation where he genuinely cost the St. Louis Cardinals a game earlier this season.
7. Brian O'Nora
Not only is O'Nora a terrible umpire, he's also had trouble with the law. Somehow he still has a job. O'Nora is currently operating with a 92.9 percent accuracy rare, and his CCAx is an awful -27.3, second worst in MLB. He sits in the 12th percentile accuracy-wise, and is in the ninth for accuracy above expected. If that wasn't enough, he was arrested in a sex sting operation in Ohio back in December of 2020 and wound up pleading guilty to lesser charges. Just a great guy to have on an MLB field, right?
Earlier this season, O'Nora missed 17 calls in a game between the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins, four of the misses were by more than 2.5 inches.
He's clearly stellar at his job:
8. Rob Drake
Drake has been a major league umpire since 2010 and in that time he's racked up an impressive record of incompetence. His accuracy rate behind the plate is 93 percent this season, while his CCAx sits at -23.5. He ranks in the 13th percentile in accuracy, 15th in a accuracy above expected and 20th in consistency.
Drake also might not be a completely stable individual. Back in 2019, he tweeted about the impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump, claiming he'd buy an AR-15, "because if you impeach MY PRESIDENT this way, YOU WILL HAVE ANOTHER CIVAL WAR!!! #MAGA2020." He deleted the tweet soon after. Frankly, I'm most offended that he spelled Civil War wrong. Reminder: He's also a terrible umpire.
9. Dan Iassogna
As with most of the guys on this list, Iassogna is regularly referred to as one of the worst umpires in the game. This season, he's proven just how bad he is. In 22 graded games behind the plate, his accuracy sits at 93.2 percent, and his CCAx is a terrible -25.5, fourth worst in baseball. He ranks in the 22nd percentile in accuracy, 13th in accuracy above expected, 15th in consistency and 12th in favor. Despite all of that, the 54-year-old is a crew chief and has umped three World Series, including in 2022.
On opening day, Iassogna missed a call by 6.24 inches, which is massive:
In July, he missed 13 calls during a Cincinnati Reds-San Francisco Giants game. Ten of the calls went against the Reds.
10. Adrian Johnson
Johnson has been a full-time MLB umpire since 2010 and was promoted to crew chief before the 2023 season. We're not sure exactly what he did to deserve either of those steps up. While we mostly judge umpires by what they do behind the plate, Johnson is terrible all over the field. At home plate this season, his accuracy rate is 93.5 percent, while his CCAx is -20.8. On top of that, he loves to escalate situations and eject people.
Watch the below sequence from May, when Johnson was at third base during a Pittsburgh Pirates-Tampa Bay Rays game. The clip is more than two minutes, but stick around until the end and see how wildly-unprofessional Johnson gets:
Here he is tossing Los Angeles Angels hitting coach Marcus Thames who dared to question an awful call:
I repeat: he was given a promotion before the season because absolutely nothing matters anymore.