FanDuel - WFBC

May 02, 2008

A Strike Is a Strike, Right?:

posted by justgary to baseball at 09:03 PM - 18 comments

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

posted by shudacudawuda at 10:20 PM on May 02

Interesting article. That is a lot of information trying to quantify what a lot of people have thought for a lot of years about the expanding and decreasing strike zone. With the modern technology that you see in televised games I guess it was just a matter of time before you started to see how the strike zone could be affected by factors like what point of the game you are in, veteran batter, veteran hitter etc. Do you think the day will come for (gasp) video assist pitch calling? And if the article puts you to sleep, you shuda skipped it. There were a lot of graphs and charts, so I thought you cuda stayed awake. If Gary knew you were bored he wuda linked to something with more pictures. ( I'm sorry man, but you made that too easy)

posted by THX-1138 at 10:44 PM on May 02

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz posted by shudacudawuda at 10:20 PM CST on May 2 What a shitty, rude thing to do. Way to insult the poster and show your own ignorance at the same time.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 11:29 PM on May 02

I looked at it and thought "I love baseball, but not this much" and didn't read it. Probably being whacked out of my gourd on codeine didn't help the old comprehension. But yeah, no reason to be so damn rude.

posted by Drood at 11:41 PM on May 02

I looked at it and thought "I love baseball, but not this much" and didn't read it. Yeah, definitely not a link for everyone. I love stuff like this but even I had to break it down into several readings. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz posted by shudacudawuda SCW we cover a lot of topics here. From this to simply top ten lists. If you don't enjoy a topic or a link please skip it without comment. Thanks.

posted by justgary at 12:27 AM on May 03

Thanks, justgary. I like the possible mental aspects the numbers seem to point to. It all seems to make sense. Advantage going to the home team, veteran right-hander, with a good rep and throws early strikes. Something else that could be factored in is the number of quality batters the pitchers face per every 9.0 AB, and whether or not the umpires give that batter a tighter strike zone. If that was the case, an AL pitcher would be up against 3 or 4 additional (DH) quality at-bats (where the umpire would be in a position to call strikes) than an NL pitcher(where the umpire would be watching the other NL pitcher bat and wave wildly at pitches 2 feet outside, thereby not having to call the pitch). The most surprising study for me was the calls per inning chart. That's surprising how loose the umpires get in extra innings. But you gotta give them credit for keeping it pretty consistent for innings 1-9. Mr. Turkenkopf did a lot of work to put this together and the tendencies are minuscule, but it's neat to see.

posted by BoKnows at 01:53 AM on May 03

Justgary: I love baseball stats, but stuff like this makes my eyes cross, and kinda removes some of the romance of the stats for me. It's kinda like being told there's a hole in the magicians hat where he pulls the rabbit through. It's fun to know the secrets, but the magic is never quite the same.

posted by Drood at 05:23 AM on May 03

While I have never umpired anything above 16 year old baseball, with the exception of adult slow pitch softball leagues, I will admit to letting several other factors play into my strike zone. An arrogant/rude hitter certainly won't get the benefit of the doubt, nor would an arrogant pitcher...I have to belive that this shows up in the majors as well. Staring down an umpire is rarely a good thing. Hitters that crowd the plate are probably not getting the inside calls their way. While I would have doubted this happened in the majors, in youth baseball we told coaches that we would be aggressive on strike counts in extra innings. We wanted the boys up there to hit. After reading the article I'm not so sure that the pro's aren't treated the same way. Great article!

posted by dviking at 11:05 AM on May 03

I admit I skimmed through the author's metrics and charts, but I did get a little grasp on what he is trying to say. The salient point is the seeming shrinkage of the strike zone in extra innings. I admit to having done quite the opposite in my umpiring days (Babe Ruth, Senior Babe Ruth, High School, American Legion). After 2+ hours on a cold New Hampshire afternoon in April, it is time to get out of there. Most of the coaches were aware of this, and made sure their guys went up there hacking. Few of the high school fields have lights, so on a gray, dreary afternoon, when it gets to be about 6:30, the ball begins to disappear. Most of the Athletic Directors I know hate to have to schedule the completion of a suspended game, so they would rather get it over with than have to pay travel costs, additional umpire fees, and so forth. I didn't look at the "catcher framing" discussion, but my hard and fast rule was that if the catcher moves his glove in order to influence a call, the pitch missed. I tried to call the pitch for where it crossed the plate and not where it was caught (the rule, by the way). A point that is belabored by baseball announcers is that if a pitcher is showing good control, he is more likely to get strikes called on the close pitches. As an umpire, I agree with this. The "handedness" of batter and pitcher does have a role in the strike zone. I was taught to work the "slot" (between plate and batter). A right-handed pitcher working to a left-handed batter will get more calls, simply because the umpire can see the inside strike a little better, and the outside pitch is tending to move toward the plate. The converse is also true for lefty-righty matchups. In a 7-inning youth game, the umpire will have to call between 200 and 300 pitches, sometimes more. I will freely admit to missing perhaps 5 or 6 each way, or about 3 or 4 percent. Major league umpires probably have a miss rate that is better, but they are not perfect. I was doing a JV game one day between 2 of the smaller schools in NH. One of the coaches had little experience, and was on me pretty well about my strike zone. After a couple of innings, I spoke to him (quietly, I might add), and asked him how many I had missed. He replied that I had missed 3 or 4. I said something to the effect that this was way better than I usually was and thanked him. He didn't say a word for the rest of the game.

posted by Howard_T at 03:32 PM on May 03

i thought it was a good read and the graphs were a nice touch to help all the dumb asses who cant read well

posted by buckchaser at 07:10 PM on May 03

Howard T, if you only missed 3 or 4 percent you're a very good umpire, especially for the level of ball you mention. I would estimate that on the pro level umpires "miss" at least that many pitches. Most are totally inconsequntial, in that calling a pitch a ball when it was actually a strike, and then the hitter puts the next pitch into play, has no real effect. Given that even on the pro level umpires are known for having different size strike zones tells me that there is a % of error built in. Consistentcy is what most batters/coaches are looking for. Lastly, while the article deals with the majors and thus does not have this to contend with, umpires at lower levels are often calling numerous games on a weekend day. Yes, they rotate positions, regardless, they are still being asked to be alert for easily well over a thousand pitches. Tough to do. Working the dish for that 6:00 PM game is not easy if your first game was at 10:00 AM.

posted by dviking at 01:27 AM on May 04

Officials in all sports miss calls. I would say baseball has the best % rate of good calls while basketball is the worse. Basketball officials just don't care about the rules, and the veterens get more calls their way. Announcers even admit to the rookie factor, which I think baseball officials could care less about.

posted by scuubie at 10:44 AM on May 04

I have not read the whole article, but it seems to support my desire to see balls and strikes automated in baseball. Have some sensor/computer system beep when the ball is in the zone. Tennis does it with serves. Baseball has a lot more money. Let the game be about the players rather than umpires. Don't let crucial games be decided on a bad call if it is preventable. Replay is used in different sports on this principle.

posted by Aardhart at 11:58 AM on May 04

I have not read the whole article, but it seems to support my desire to see balls and strikes automated in baseball. Nah. While an automated system would be able to judge a strike if it's over the plate (left/right), it would not be able to adjust itself to account for the differences in each batter (top/bottom). The tennis system stays fixed on a single line. In baseball, the strike zone changes. The only type of automation that I would like to see in baseball is when the batter checks his swing. There could be a sensor that judges whether or not the bat actually crossed home plate.

posted by BoKnows at 12:23 PM on May 04

Howard T, if you only missed 3 or 4 percent you're a very good umpire That's all I'll admit to. If you ask some coaches, you'll get a lot different estimate. Really, I seem to have found that in youth baseball, you don't have too many kids working the corners, and especially you don't have too many breaking balls to worry about. That makes the ball and strike part of the job easier. The hardest pitch for me to call is the low outside slider. Aardhart, please, please never let them automate the ball and strike calls. Baseball is played by humans and should be officiated by humans. Anything else is a video game. Part of the game is for the players to adapt to the difference between umpires. As long as there is consistency, the players can readily live with that.

posted by Howard_T at 12:26 PM on May 04

it would not be able to adjust itself to account for the differences in each batter (top/bottom). Sure it could. It would just need to be adjusted between batters. They do it on TV for replays in some big games. I have not designed and tested the system, but it is definitely possible. Many things would have to be resolved including the design and functioning, whether all 6'0" players have the same strike zone, or if crouching makes it easier to get a BB, etc. Hell, MLB umpires are currently being audited somehow. How is the performance standard measured? There could be a sensor that judges whether or not the bat actually crossed home plate. That would not be enough. A checked swing from the back of the batter's box has to be the same as a checked swing from the front of the box. (Although I know that every batter stands with his back foot several inches outside/behind the batter's box.) I could not picture a way that would be consistent with current standards, and I'm not exactly sure what the formal nominal standard is. I think automating check swings would be harder and more invasive that automating balls and strikes. But if there was a reliable consistent system, I would support it. ---------- Aardhart, please, please never let them automate the ball and strike calls. Howard_T, I don't have a vote or a veto. I'm also not aware of any serious discussion of this at any level (management, media). But if I could start one, good. Baseball is played by humans and should be officiated by humans. Do you oppose instant replay to overturn obviously blown calls in other sports? I think that players should decide the game, not the officials. I could never understand the merits of bad calls because they are "part of the game." Part of the game is for the players to adapt to the difference between umpires. I do not think that this has to be or should be part of the game. Argue/whine in the second to hope to get a call in the eighth? Making it harder for a rookie than a veteran to get a call on the exact same pitch in the exact same spot? Not good for the game in my view. As long as there is consistency . . . Just as long as there is not TOO MUCH consistency? [I think that this topic is relevant to the article, and not thread hijacking.]

posted by Aardhart at 03:24 PM on May 04

Hell, MLB umpires are currently being audited somehow. How is the performance standard measured? The article does a good job. A checked swing from the back of the batter's box has to be the same as a checked swing from the front of the box. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a checked swing called a strike because the bat crossed the front of home plate? Why does it matter where the batter stands? If a batter wants to stand in the front of the box, reducing his own ability to check his swing, that's his prerogative. (I was thinking of something similar to a foul line in bowling.) Making it harder for a rookie than a veteran to get a call on the exact same pitch in the exact same spot? Not good for the game in my view. If any of the scenarios studied in the article were to reveal a substantial advantage, maybe you would have a point. But the results here show that the umpires do a great job not letting the individual factors determine their ability to call a fair game. I realize it's not 100%, but it's close. Of all the things that need a fixin in pro-sports, this one is on the bottom of my list.

posted by BoKnows at 04:18 PM on May 04

i don't think baseball will be going to an automated pitch calling system anytime soon. Too hard to do, and there really isn't any call for it. Now, instant replay for some other calls perhaps, I would welcome cameras on the foul lines and maybe the bases. Howard, totally agree on the difficulty in calling low outside pitches, especially anything that is breaking away from the plate. Here in Texas I see a lot of pitchers 13 and up throwing a fair amount of junk...too much in my opinion, but that's another thread in itself.

posted by dviking at 07:24 PM on May 04

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.