FanDuel - WFBC

April 03, 2014

Four strikes and you're out: A study of more than one million pitches reveals "Umpires want to make the right call, but they also don't want to make the wrong call at the wrong time. Ironically, this prompts them to make bad calls more often." Illustrated with some nice heat maps.

posted by rumple to baseball at 10:21 PM - 8 comments

Umpires do not make the wrong call! They might make the incorrect call at certain times, but because the umpire makes the call, and it is a judgement call, the call is not wrong. If replay is used, and the call is overruled, the umpire was not wrong, merely incorrect.

OK, this was about balls and strikes in a count when the pitch, without any action on the part of the batter, may result in either a base runner or an out. I've umpired for close to 20 years, and I've watched baseball for a lot longer than that. Most umpires will not let a borderline pitch determine the ultimate fate of a batter. If the 3-1 pitch is "just off the black at the knees", most will call it strike 2. The same goes for the 0-2 and 1-2 pitch that shave the zone and are called a ball. It may not be absolutely within the rules of the game, but avoiding the probable argument, a delay of the game, and the possibility of the ejection of a player, the marginal call is usually made with the view toward prolonging the at bat. Right or wrong, it happens, and it will probably continue to happen. The other side of the coin is that if you were to take the number of times that such a call favored the pitcher vs those that favored the batter, the resultant percentages would come very close to 50-50.

posted by Howard_T at 12:14 AM on April 04

The other side of the coin is that if you were to take the number of times that such a call favored the pitcher vs those that favored the batter, the resultant percentages would come very close to 50-50.

Mathematically:

Count where pitch "leans" towards being called a ball (result "favours batter"):
0-2
1-2
2-2

Count where it pitch "leans" towards being called a strike (result "favours pitcher"):
3-0
3-1

Total counts in MLB in 2013:

Result "favours batter":
0-2 (16267 pitches)
1-2 (27133 pitches)
2-2 (25523 pitches)
Total: 68923

Result "favours pitcher":
3-0 (3773 pitches)
3-1 (8133 pitches)
Total: 11906

Total pitches thrown in 2013 MLB:
184873

Potential "favour batter" result %:
37.3%

Potential "favour batter" result %:
6.4%

It would seem to me that the the batter would be getting the benefit of the "favourable call" six times as often as the pitcher.

posted by grum@work at 09:28 AM on April 04

The only way that it could work out to "50/50" would be if they called the "favour pitcher" result 100% of the time and the "favour batter" result only ~ 17% of the time.

posted by grum@work at 09:30 AM on April 04

.

posted by bender at 09:58 AM on April 04

We haven't had grumbait on here for a very very long time.

*pours glass of red, pulls up chair*

posted by owlhouse at 10:16 AM on April 04

Umpires do not make the wrong call! They might make the incorrect call at certain times, but because the umpire makes the call, and it is a judgement call, the call is not wrong. If replay is used, and the call is overruled, the umpire was not wrong, merely incorrect.

I call therefore it's right. Might help you sleep at night but it's infuriating to players having to deal with the "right" albeit incorrect calls.

posted by tron7 at 12:50 PM on April 04

I call therefore it's right.

Ahhh tron7, it appears you need a calibration on your sarcasm detector.

grum, you are statistically correct, but what I would really like to see is a breakdown of the results after a count has been extended. True enough, there are more opportunities for a batter to be granted favor than a pitcher. How often does a batter or a pitcher get more than a second bite at the apple, as it were?

posted by Howard_T at 04:10 PM on April 04

Ahhh tron7, it appears you need a calibration on your sarcasm detector.

Is there a version of Poe's Law that applies to umpire satire? It's either that or I'm still smarting from the bat being taken out of my hands on my first at bat of the summer.

posted by tron7 at 05:49 PM on April 04

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