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.

ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick 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. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick 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

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Don Malcolm
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOTP 11 December, 2017 - GOP strategist: Moore would have 'date with a baseball bat' if he tried dating teens where I grew up
(1901 - 9:38pm, Dec 14)
Last: madvillain

NewsblogDerek Jeter Was Once the Captain. But Now He’s the Apprentice. - The New York Times
(60 - 9:34pm, Dec 14)
Last: snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster)

NewsblogRyan Thibs has his HOF Ballot Tracker Up and Running!
(436 - 9:11pm, Dec 14)
Last: the Hugh Jorgan returns

NewsblogESPN: Bob Costas wins Hall of Fame's Frick Award for broadcasting
(10 - 8:51pm, Dec 14)
Last: AndrewJ

NewsblogOT - NBA 2017-2018 Tip-off Thread
(2006 - 8:49pm, Dec 14)
Last: jmurph

NewsblogAlex Anthopoulos bringing high-level analytics approach to Braves
(1 - 8:37pm, Dec 14)
Last: bfan

NewsblogAngels trade for Tigers' Ian Kinsler
(26 - 8:29pm, Dec 14)
Last: QLE

Newsblog2017 MLB Rule 5 Draft results | MLB.com
(26 - 8:03pm, Dec 14)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogJack Morris, Alan Trammell elected to Hall | MLB.com
(227 - 8:00pm, Dec 14)
Last: SoSH U at work

NewsblogYou should be very skeptical of claims the Royals lost over $60 million the last two years - Royals Review
(12 - 7:57pm, Dec 14)
Last: snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster)

NewsblogCardinals trade for Marcell Ozuna of Marlins
(55 - 7:56pm, Dec 14)
Last: snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster)

Hall of Merit2018 Hall of Merit Ballot Discussion
(389 - 7:19pm, Dec 14)
Last: Howie Menckel

NewsblogIf Kyle Schwarber goes anywhere could it be back to Cubs leadoff spot? – Chicago Sun-Times
(29 - 6:00pm, Dec 14)
Last: Walt Davis

Gonfalon CubsLooking to next year
(344 - 5:17pm, Dec 14)
Last: Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington

Hall of Merit2018 Hall of Merit Ballot
(29 - 5:16pm, Dec 14)
Last: Howie Menckel

Page rendered in 0.1715 seconds
47 querie(s) executed