Given the controversy that seems to follow them everywhere, we thought it was worth figuring out the worst MLB umpires in 2023.
Believe it or not, there are MLB umpire statistics kept, which can aid in creating a list of the worst MLB umpires ranked. After all, fans have a right to know if the umpires in charge of calling a game are reliable or not.
Worst MLB umpires 2023
For what it’s worth, umpires have a hard job. The new rule changes in 2023 have given them even more to do. Umpires are also human, so they’re going to make mistakes. As of right now, we’re still not ready for robot umpires calling balls and strikes.
Until that happens, it’s important to keep track of what umpires are making the most mistakes. With that said, let’s look at our ranking of the 10 worst MLB umpires in 2023.
Even though a back injury has sidelined him for a large chunk of the season, Angel Hernandez can still be considered among the worst MLB umpires in 2023. While he hasn’t blown a ton of calls this season, as long as he’s technically an active umpire, he’ll be among the worst in baseball.
Hernandez has long been a lightning rod for criticism from fans, and it’s usually warranted. There are too many instances where Hernandez has made head-scratching calls to name. But everyone who follows baseball knows that Hernandez is a blown call waiting to happen.
As a rookie umpire, Emil Jimenez isn’t a well-known name among baseball fans yet. However, during the early part of May, he lowered the bar for umpires in 2023 by missing 19 calls behind home plate during a game between the Nationals and Giants.
Jimenez took a lot of heat from fans and put himself on the radar as one of the young umpires in baseball to watch for the wrong reasons.
The fact that Dan Bellino was promoted to crew chief this season is appalling. A year ago, he had an infamous incident with Madison Bumgarner in which the umpire stared down the former World Series MVP.
While Bellino apologized, he never should have been promoted to crew chief this year and has continued to be involved in controversy in 2023.
Just looking at him, Rob Drake has the look of a smug umpire who doesn’t care when he screws up calls. He’s called some of the worst games in baseball this season.
Every few weeks, it seems that is a new team upset at Drake’s utter lack of consistency and propensity for missing obvious ball-strike calls.
Starting on opening day, Laz Diaz made it clear that he was going to be among the worst umpires in baseball this season.
Diaz was well below the expected rate in both accuracy and consistency while calling balls and strikes between the Giants and Yankees on opening day. He hasn’t exactly gotten better since then.
For over two decades, Ron Kulpa has been stirring up controversy in the big leagues. To be fair, he’s been decent enough at times to be selected to umpire in the postseason. But 2023 hasn’t been Kulpa’s best year.
In April, he ejected Manny Machado after a controversial pitch-clock violation that came when players were still adjusting to the new rules. In July, Kulpa became a scapegoat for the Cardinals losing a game after the strike zone suddenly expanded in a key spot, showing a complete lack of consistency from the veteran umpire.
In June of this year, Doug Eddings worked the 3,000th MLB game of his career. But that just means he’s been doing a bad job for a long time.
Last season, he had the worst consistency of any home-plate umpire in baseball. The Blue Jays and White Sox found out just how bad he could be earlier this season when Eddings missed 26 ball-strike calls. Unfortunately, that game was just the tip of the iceberg for Eddings.
Despite being one of the longest-serving umpires in the majors, C.B. Bucknor is still among the worst. On multiple occasions throughout his career, players have voted him as the worst umpire in the league. Entities like Sports Illustrated have also given him that title on numerous occasions as well.
In 2023, Bucknor didn’t even wait until the regular season to start creating problems. During a spring training game, Bucknor caused a kerfuffle by refusing to shake the hand of St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol, an incident that’s far worse than even the most egregious calls Bucknor has ever made.
Most baseball fans have long known that Brian O’Nora is a bad dude. Back in 2020, he was arrested in connection with a human trafficking sting. Somehow, he still has a job in the big leagues after that, not to mention his years of subpar work on the field.
He somehow fell below the 90% accuracy rate in three of his first five games behind the plate. In April, a pitch that was almost in the opposite batter’s box was called a strike, solidifying his standing as one of the worst baseball umpires this season.
There isn’t enough time to go over all of the terrible things Phil Cuzzi has done this season. He’s made some truly terrible calls behind the plate. But he’s also had a tendency to be quick to eject players and managers.
He infamously ejected Max Scherzer, alleging the ace had sticky substances on his hands, which the future Hall of Famer vehemently denied. Scherzer wasn’t the only pitcher Cuzzi has ejected for allegedly having a foreign substance, but he seems to be the only umpire ejecting pitchers for it. That’s a sign that the problem is Cuzzi and not the pitchers.