The ninth inning of the Philadelphia Phillies' 4-2 win over the San Diego Padres in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Friday was punctuated by a controversial checked-swing call against Jurickson Profar. With a runner on first and no outs, Profar began to offer at a full-count inside fastball from Philly closer Seranthony Domínguez but attempted to check his swing.
To the naked eye, he appeared to do so successfully, but he was called out by third-base umpire Todd Tichenor. Profar, immediately outraged by the call, made his objections known, and he was ejected. Here's a look:
Jurickson Profar has been thrown out of the game. pic.twitter.com/4O437H2Sf2— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 22, 2022
Now for some screengrabs which show the barrel of Profar's bat at its farthest point in the swing (or non-swing, if you prefer):
Somewhat infamously, the MLB rulebook doesn't flatly define what is or isn't a swing, and umpires are left to make such calls based on judgement and, well, perhaps oral tradition. Typically, an umpire will call it a swing if the barrel tip crosses the front of the plate or the foul line. Absent an angle that approximates Tichenor's view down that third-base foul line, we can't really say definitively whether the call was right or wrong based on the video and stills above. Anecdotally, most observers in real time seemed to think it wasn't a swing, but, again, we didn't have Tichenor's angle on things.
"I thought it was really big. I thought I didn't go. It should have been a walk," Profar told reporters afterward.
What's beyond dispute is that the call, which turned a walk into a strikeout, significantly lessened the Padres' chances of mounting a comeback. If Profar had walked, then the Padres would have had runners on first and second and no outs. Teams in those circumstances have averaged 1.51 runs in those innings. The Padres, of course, were down by two runs. That plus the fact that the Phillies would still get to bat in the bottom half of the inning in the event of a tie or Padres' lead means that San Diego, had Profar walked would have had a rather modest 23.47 percent chance of winning Game 3.
Things as they were in reality after Tichenor's call -- runner on first and one out -- gave the Padres a 6.59 percent chance of winning Game 3. Yes, they were very likely to lose anyway even if Profar had reached, but they would've been almost four times more likely to pull off the comeback. Maybe you nudge that 23.47 percent figure up a bit higher given that Domínguez was in his second inning of work and Profar's reaching would've left him still need of the fourth, fifth, and sixth outs of his night.
None of that happened, though, and the Phillies are up 2-1 in this best-of-seven duel for the pennant. Tichenor's call, which, again, may not have been wrong, didn't directly result in that outcome, but it made it bit more probable.