Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Ball? Strike? It Depends: Is the Pitcher an All-Star?

They would rather not talk about it, but umpires may be just as star-struck as the average baseball fan.

Two researchers looked at the photographic evidence and found that umpires make more errors in favor of All-Star pitchers than pitchers who have never been selected for an All-Star Game — about 17 percent more.

This is a subject umpires are naturally hesitant to discuss….

But the science exists, for anyone who wants to look at it. Every major league stadium is equipped with the Pitch f/x system, which includes strategically placed cameras that record the locations and trajectories of every pitch. The technology provides a record that is difficult to dispute. In the seasons the study covered, 2008 and 2009, umpires earned a B-plus average, at best, in calling balls and strikes.

The researchers — two business school professors, Jerry W. Kim of Columbia Business School and Brayden G. King of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management — looked at data on 756,848 pitches over 313,774 at-bats in 4,914 games. Some umpires were, unsurprisingly, more accurate than others, but on average they called a strike on 18.8 percent of pitches that were actually out of the strike zone and a ball on 12.9 percent of pitches that were, in fact, strikes.

Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 08, 2014 at 07:33 AM | 3 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: umpiring

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: July 08, 2014 at 12:23 PM (#4746067)
Or could it be that the causation is reversed: Pitchers who throw pitches that look like strikes but are actually out of the strike zone are more likely to become all stars. Given that such a skill would be very useful as a pitcher, this would make sense.
   2. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 08, 2014 at 12:49 PM (#4746100)
Some umpires were, unsurprisingly, more accurate than others, but on average they called a strike on 18.8 percent of pitches that were actually out of the strike zone and a ball on 12.9 percent of pitches that were, in fact, strikes.


And so the solution is naturally to let them keep doing this while they instigate replay for the 1% of plays on the bases that get called wrong.
   3. Walt Davis Posted: July 08, 2014 at 06:06 PM (#4746545)
But the science exists

As #1 sort of hints -- this is not science!

This is two guys adding up numbers ... which is fine although we don't need Business profs to tell use proportion of in/out calls, that's what fangraphs, etc. are for. Beyond that they seem to have done no more than simple "hey, let's compare the means of two groups."

Science is "why". They might speculate why but they have no evidence of why. And it almost surely isn't "all-star" that was just a convenient and independent measure of "quality" and "star." And the chicken-egg problem. And how did they define "error"? Was it a simple and lazy "yes/no" -- called a ball a strike regardless of how far outside the zone the pitch was?

There are zones where basically every pitch is gonna be called a strike and zones where basically every pitch is gonna be called a ball. The rest are the gray areas. Good pitchers live in the gray areas, bad pitchers will have a wider distribution of locations. If they haven't accounted for that then their finding is empty.

If half of a pitcher's balls are in a gray area then, sure, he's probably gonna get 25-30% of his balls called strikes. If only 1/4 of a pitcher's balls are in a gray area, he's probably only gonna get 10-15% of his balls called strikes.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
The Id of SugarBear Blanks
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogJapan Times: Nakamura belts three-run homer in 10th to put Hawks one win away from Japan Series title
(10 - 11:32am, Oct 30)
Last: RMc is a fine piece of cheese

NewsblogSan Francisco Giants at Kansas City Royals - October 29, 2014 | MLB.com Box
(49 - 11:31am, Oct 30)
Last: Jeltzandini

NewsblogMadison Bumgarner, World Series legend - McCovey Chronicles
(46 - 11:30am, Oct 30)
Last: salvomania

NewsblogOT: Politics, October 2014: Sunshine, Baseball, and Etch A Sketch: How Politicians Use Analogies
(4590 - 11:29am, Oct 30)
Last: DJS and the Infinite Sadness

NewsblogJoe Maddon is to become Cubs manager, sources say
(68 - 11:20am, Oct 30)
Last: The Id of SugarBear Blanks

NewsblogOT: NBC.news: Valve isn’t making one gaming console, but multiple ‘Steam machines’
(971 - 11:20am, Oct 30)
Last: Langer Monk

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 10-30-2014
(7 - 11:20am, Oct 30)
Last: just plain joe

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - October 2014
(574 - 11:16am, Oct 30)
Last: Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot

Newsblog2014 WORLD SERIES GAME 7 OMNICHATTER
(1434 - 11:06am, Oct 30)
Last: Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos

NewsblogVanguard after the Revolution | NBC SportsWorld
(50 - 10:24am, Oct 30)
Last: Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play

NewsblogAngell: The World Series is Almost Over
(1 - 9:22am, Oct 30)
Last: sotapop

NewsblogHeyman: Pablo Sandoval is on Boston's 3B wish list, but so is Chase Headley
(25 - 8:14am, Oct 30)
Last: PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth)

NewsblogRoad maps to pitching success in Game 7 | FOX Sports
(9 - 1:14am, Oct 30)
Last: Ray (RDP)

NewsblogESPN: Jose Canseco shoots self in hand
(66 - 11:53pm, Oct 29)
Last: eric

NewsblogOT:  Soccer (the Round, True Football), November 2014
(15 - 11:14pm, Oct 29)
Last: CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo

Page rendered in 0.0912 seconds
52 querie(s) executed