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

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogA Twins player confronted play-by-play announcer Dick Bremer about his calls
(14 - 8:29am, May 26)
Last: Steve Parris, Je t'aime

NewsblogOT: NBA Playoffs Thread 2016
(2482 - 8:23am, May 26)
Last: JC in DC

NewsblogDexter Fowler exemplifies why MLB's free agent system is broken
(21 - 8:14am, May 26)
Last: McCoy

NewsblogOTP 2016 May 23: Baseball owners hear from Democratic, Republican strategists
(579 - 8:13am, May 26)
Last: Bitter Mouse, Space Tyrant

NewsblogScience news: Throwing fastballs may be linked to Tommy John surgery in MLB pitchers
(17 - 7:41am, May 26)
Last: Bote Man makes baseball fun again

NewsblogTexas Rangers: Grant: How can Rangers ensure Yu Darvish is still pitching in October? | SportsDay
(5 - 7:18am, May 26)
Last: Moses Taylor, Optimist in London

NewsblogMarlins Sue Season Ticketholders, Vendors Bankrupted by Small Crowds
(77 - 4:25am, May 26)
Last: Walt Davis

Gonfalon CubsRegression and Perspective
(13 - 4:23am, May 26)
Last: Moses Taylor, Optimist in London

NewsblogHarper: The question about '86 Mets that haunts Davey Johnson - NY Daily News
(23 - 4:04am, May 26)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogNew York Mets' Travis d'Arnaud resumes throwing, headed to Port St. Lu - Mets Blog- ESPN
(8 - 2:50am, May 26)
Last: Dog on the sidewalk

NewsblogSilent Matt Harvey confirms he’s the phony Mets have enabled | New York Post
(50 - 2:42am, May 26)
Last: Zach

NewsblogMariners Leonys Martin hits walk-off home run | MLB.com
(7 - 2:14am, May 26)
Last: ReggieThomasLives

NewsblogNew York Mets weigh next step for Matt Harvey as right-hander's struggles continue
(36 - 2:08am, May 26)
Last: ReggieThomasLives

NewsblogOMNICHATTER 5-25-16
(294 - 1:37am, May 26)
Last: Baldrick

NewsblogOT: Soccer March/April 2016
(1239 - 1:28am, May 26)
Last: Baldrick

Page rendered in 0.2666 seconds
47 querie(s) executed