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Is Angel Hernandez Still Umpiring? Explaining the MLB Umpire's Disappearance

Angel Hernandez took flak last season from MLB fans as one of the worst umpires, which makes his sudden disappearance interesting.

From little league baseball to the major leagues, there will always be an umpire who doesn't control the game the way the fans like. For years, Angel Hernandez has been that figure to dislike for teams and fans around the game.

Yet, Hernandez has been missing and not seen on any MLB diamonds since April 3, when the San Francisco Giants played the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. The New York Post hinted that Hernandez may be out due to a back injury and will return once the issue clears up. Assuming that is the case, everyone should hope that Hernandez makes a full and speedy recovery although some fans would still like to keep him away from the game after he recovers.

So, what's up? Where has Angel Hernandez been?

Where in the World is Angel Hernandez?

Angel Hernandez looks on from home plate.

Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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Hernandez has worked in MLB since 1991. Unlike other longtime umpires such as Joe West, the 61-year-old umpire has attached himself to some rough calls in the big leagues. For that reason, fans are often displeased to see Hernandez on the list of umpires to officiate a game.

In one of the first calls of many that left fans and players feeling frustrated, Hernandez took home plate duties for a game between the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves just before the All-Star break in 1998.

With the Braves and Mets tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 11th inning, Michael Tucker decided to dash home on a sacrifice fly opportunity, and the throw from Mets left fielder Bernard Gilkey appeared to be right on target. But his call, despite what seemed obvious in replay, was that Hernandez missed Mike Piazza's tag.

"That's the worst I've ever seen!" Mets manager Bobby Valentine shouted to Hernandez right in the front of the camera.

A few years later, Hernandez drew the ire of an entire stadium when the Chicago Cubs played the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 7, 2001. The Cubs and their fans, in the midst of a heated divisional race, had had enough of Hernandez's controversial calls throughout the night. During the seventh-inning stretch, former Bears tackle Steve McMichael was the guest conductor for singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and had a special message for Hernandez.

"I'll have some speaks with that home plate umpire after the game," McMichael told Wrigley Field.

After publicly calling out Hernandez, McMichael was ejected from the stadium, as crew chief Randy Marsh ordered him to be removed. Cubs general manager Andy MacPhail later apologized to the umpires.

The possible peak of Hernandez's questionable umpiring occurred during the American League Division Series in 2018. With playoff stakes on the line, Hernandez made not just one or two but three calls in the game between the Red Sox and Yankees that were overturned by replay review.

"He's absolutely terrible," Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia said after losing Game 4. "He was terrible behind the plate today. He was terrible at first base. It's amazing how he's getting jobs umpiring in these playoff games."

Major League Baseball later revealed that this game cost him an umpiring spot in the 2018 World Series.

"Hernandez did not capitalize on that opportunity and did not rise to the occasion," MLB wrote in its statement. "This was the first time since the advent of expanded instant replay in 2014 that an umpire had three calls overturned in a postseason game. Based on his performance during that Division Series playoff game, [MLB chief baseball officer Joe] Torre was not confident in Hernandez's ability to perform effectively on an even more intense stage, and for this reason did not select him for the World Series that season."

Angel Hernandez Wasn't Even That Bad Last Year

Angel Hernandez smiles during a game.

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Hernandez's last full season umpiring occurred in 2022. The website Umpire Scorecards helps in creating advanced statistics on umpires, and the site's "accuracy above expected" metric — or AAx — helps to find "how umpires perform in a game or across a season, relative to the expected performance from an average umpire."

In this statistic, Hernandez scored 0.28 in 29 games. Several umpires were ahead of Hernandez, but more were behind him, and the score was far from the worst (-5.29 for Paul Clemons in one game). To the veteran umpire's credit, he was a solid umpire last year at calling balls and strikes...overall.

But as you can see from data Umpire Scorecards since 2015, Hernandez is far from the best umpire in baseball. His magnum opus of mediocrity? An April8, 2017 matchup between Cleveland and Arizona in which he called a stunningly low 83.9% of calls correctly.

The tragedy of the Hernandez story is that fans are far from the only ones angry. The veteran umpire has been upset with MLB himself. In 2017, Hernandez sued MLB, filing a lawsuit against the league claiming racial discrimination. The veteran umpire felt that the league discriminated against minority umpires and didn't allow them to move up in MLB's umpiring ranks when it seemed right to do so. Ultimately, Hernandez lost his lawsuit.

"The explicit reason MLB offers — that according to [Joe] Torre, Hernandez 'has not demonstrated the leadership ability and situation-management skills in critical high-pressure roles on a consistent basis' — is presented in clear and specific terms," the judge said.

Little is known about Hernandez outside of the game of baseball, and there are no personal attacks on his character. The longtime umpire might have a soft heart behind his often-angry appearance on the diamond. Still, if fans and players had a choice, they would favor a world that doesn't see Hernandez back behind home plate.

MORE: Angel Hernandez is the Worst Umpire in the History of Major League Baseball.