MLB Umpires Missed 34,294 Ball-Strike Calls in 2018. Bring on Robo-umps?
Over 4 million pitches from 11 seasons tracked by Boston University professor and grad students.
"In 2018, umpires made 34,294 incorrect ball and strike calls. That’s 14 per game."
"The top 10 performing umps averaged 2.7 years of experience. The bottom 10 averaged 20.6 years of experience."
"This deep-dive analysis demonstrated that MLB umpires make certain incorrect calls at least 20 percent of the time, or one in every five calls. Research results revealed clear two-strike bias and pronounced strike-zone blind spots."
"Research results demonstrate that umpires in certain circumstances overwhelmingly favored the pitcher over the batter. For a batter with a two-strike count, umpires were twice as likely to call a true ball a strike (29 percent of the time) than when the count was lower (15 percent)."
"The impact of constant miscalls include overinflated pitcher strikeout percentages and suppressed batting averages. Last season, umpires were three times more likely to incorrectly send a batter back to the dugout than to miss a ball-4 walk call (7 percent). Based on the 11 regular seasons worth of data analyzed, almost one-third of batters called out looking at third strikes had good reason to be angry."
"In 2018, 2 percent of all major league games (55) were ended by incorrect calls, an increase of 41 percent from the previous year (39)."
In other words, COVID-19 affects less people than umpires do the outcomes of baseball games.
"Technology does not have to mean the death of umpires. Rather it’s a tool to allow them to do a better job."
"Biases would be eliminated. Strike-zone subjectivity would be minimized, freeing up more of the plate for pitchers and allowing batters to focus more on hitting and less on guessing inconsistent strike zones. Pace of play would increase."
"Fans could focus more on umpire standouts and rising stars and applaud the veterans who are able to withstand the test of time, just like the best aging ballplayers are appreciated."