Grading the Umps - March/April

absintheofmalaise

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We all watch and we all complain in the game threads. This thread is not for game thread style posts, but to discuss how the umps did and how their calls impacted the games for both teams. Ump Scorecards post their data the morning after.

To my eyes, Rackley was very inconsistent all night. Especially for pitches low in the zone for Pivetta that were called balls. He even got with Pivetta after an especially bad call to let him know he totally missed the call.


Scorecard for 3/29
80187
 

Skiponzo

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That's how I saw it as well. He seemed to miss a number of pitches (I remember 3) low and on the corner for Pivetta. When he missed that one he told Pivetta "My Bad"....I really like that. No ones perfect.
 

Harry Hooper

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I'm having a hard time agreeing with the "4 of 45 called strikes were true balls" rating in the scorecard. Six or seven would put him below the MLB average of 88%.
 

SouthernBoSox

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The Casas at bat in the ninth was just unbelievably horrible and costly. Should have had a base runner in a 1-0 game.
 

E5 Yaz

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I'm having a hard time agreeing with the "4 of 45 called strikes were true balls" rating in the scorecard. Six or seven would put him below the MLB average of 88%.
I've said this before, but wait until we have the automated zone. The eye test we react to watching at home will really need to be adjusted then
 

chrisfont9

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I didn't see the game but that is not a great looking card. Numbers aren't good, and the Casas pitch at the bottom and the ball called in the lower left corner are signs of inconsistency, right? Not NBA L2M level bad, but by the current high standards of MLB it's kinda poor.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I think strike 3 to Casas would have been the most impactful missed call if whatever umpscorecard uses for the strike zone had had it as a missed call. It looked to be outside the zone on the box on tv, but this score card has it as a strike apparently.

I noticed last year that there were some discrepancies where scorecard had pitches called correctly where tv technology was contrary.

All three of the most impactful misses favored the Mariners and I think Sox fans would say that the borderline calls went against us too, but whether it is reasonable to argue about borderline but correct calls is in the eye of the beholder.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I think strike 3 to Casas would have been the most impactful missed call if whatever umpscorecard uses for the strike zone had had it as a missed call. It looked to be outside the zone on the box on tv, but this score card has it as a strike apparently.

I noticed last year that there were some discrepancies where scorecard had pitches called correctly where tv technology was contrary.

All three of the most impactful misses favored the Mariners and I think Sox fans would say that the borderline calls went against us too, but whether it is reasonable to argue about borderline but correct calls is in the eye of the beholder.
Youk made the point during the broadcast that strike 3, as a breaking pitch, might have tumbled down and caught a bit of the zone out front as it crossed the plate (or at least that's the way the ump may have seen it). The tech that displays the pitch zone on the broadcast, and perhaps the one that GameCast uses, appears to capture the pitch in two dimensions at the middle or back of the plate.

I said it in the game thread and I'll say it here: strike three was too close to take, especially with the first two strikes also being low and at best borderline strikes. I think it's on Casas to make some contact on that and try to foul it off rather than watch it go and hope the ump calls it his way. Alas, few hitters protect the zone with two strikes anymore. Big reason Ks are so much more frequent these days.
 

Gene Conleys Plane Ticket

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I'll take the Umpire Scorecards track record over Gameday/GameCenter tracking any day
The data all comes from the same source, which is MLB's own pitch tracking data. The difference is that Umpire Scorecards adjusts the data based on the stance of each individual batter and other factors. Do those adjustments make the data more accurate or less accurate? Are they merely subjective? I don't know and I'm not qualified to say, but I think those are legitimate questions, just as it's legitimate to rely on the "rule book" strike zone rather than an "adjusted" one.
 

teddywingman

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What bothered me most last night was that the ump went from calling low strikes balls, to calling low balls, strikes. That was infuriating to watch in an otherwise great game.
 

Max Power

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I'll take the Umpire Scorecards track record over Gameday/GameCenter tracking any day
Casas thought it was low, too. And he's really good at telling what's a ball and what's a strike.

But even if you granted that they were borderline, Pivetta wasn't getting anything called in the bottom of the zone in the beginning of the game and Seattle was getting things that grazed or were below the zone. I'm surprised at the average consistency score.
 

E5 Yaz

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The data all comes from the same source, which is MLB's own pitch tracking data. The difference is that Umpire Scorecards adjusts the data based on the stance of each individual batter and other factors. Do those adjustments make the data more accurate or less accurate? Are they merely subjective? I don't know and I'm not qualified to say, but I think those are legitimate questions, just as it's legitimate to rely on the "rule book" strike zone rather than an "adjusted" one.
Thanks for the additional detail. Although is taking into account individual stances really an adjustment? Just asking
 

E5 Yaz

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Casas thought it was low, too. And he's really good at telling what's a ball and what's a strike.

But even if you granted that they were borderline, Pivetta wasn't getting anything called in the bottom of the zone in the beginning of the game and Seattle was getting things that grazed or were below the zone. I'm surprised at the average consistency score.
Again, if the Umpire Scorecards are what we're basing this thread off of, the ump missed 8 calls all night -- so "Pivetta wasn't getting anything called in the bottom of the zone in the beginning of the game" is not what the data says.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I would have liked to have seen Casas walk, but the truth is it might have done little other than make us more angry at Bobby Dalbec than we are. He had no chance against Munoz.
 
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Max Power

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According to Gameday, he missed one to Polanco in the first, and one to Hanniger, France, and Canzone in the second. All at the bottom of the zone. Four pitches to four different hitters is a lot and enough to establish a pattern.
 

CoffeeNerdness

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Again, if the Umpire Scorecards are what we're basing this thread off of, the ump missed 8 calls all night -- so "Pivetta wasn't getting anything called in the bottom of the zone in the beginning of the game" is not what the data says.
How exactly can you say that when these pitches aren't labeled?

80206
 

E5 Yaz

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You're right, I was going on the presumption that those four pitches weren't all against Pivetta and weren't all in the early part of the game. How silly of me.

Carry on
 

HfxBob

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Can anyone explain what that shaded border on the Gameday strike zone is supposed to represent? Is that the infamous 'gray area'? 2 of those called strikes to Casas were in that area.
 

simplicio

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Can anyone explain what that shaded border on the Gameday strike zone is supposed to represent? Is that the infamous 'gray area'? 2 of those called strikes to Casas were in that area.
I think it's just a space for the continuation of the hitter's heat map, showing how they perform swinging at pitches outside of the zone.
 

Sprowl

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Triston Casas continues to get called out on "strikes" well below the strike zone. Josh Winckowski got several gifts in return, however, when Blakney rang up A's in the 11th inning on "strikes" well outside the strike zone. The umpire looked like he wanted the game to end pronto.


 

chrisfont9

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Triston Casas continues to get called out on "strikes" well below the strike zone. Josh Winckowski got several gifts in return, however, when Blakney rang up A's in the 11th inning on "strikes" well outside the strike zone. The umpire looked like he wanted the game to end pronto.


I listened on the radio and it sounded atrocious, in the view of Fleming and Loomer.
 

Hank Scorpio

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With all this data on umpire accuracy - do we know if individual umpires are fairly consistent with their own “quirks” in how they perceive the strike zone from game to game, over the course of a season?

Just wondering if we’re at the point where teams go into a game knowing their pitchers can get away with a slider 2” off the plate, and their hitters can not swing at fastball on the black at the knees because “this ump never, ever calls that a strike”
 

jon abbey

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With all this data on umpire accuracy - do we know if individual umpires are fairly consistent with their own “quirks” in how they perceive the strike zone from game to game, over the course of a season?

Just wondering if we’re at the point where teams go into a game knowing their pitchers can get away with a slider 2” off the plate, and their hitters can not swing at fastball on the black at the knees because “this ump never, ever calls that a strike”
I don’t pay much attention to it but every Yankee game, they have a graphic at the start about how pitcher-friendly or hitter-friendly that night’s ump is, so I’m sure teams have a much more nuanced version of that.
 

Rice4HOF

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View attachment 80608

This is an outstanding result. Grade A work. Should be noted.
It looks good, and I'm the first person to defend umpires when it looks like they screwed up, but I'll go the other way here too. The box that Ump Scorecards uses is NOT that accurate to begin with. So measuring someone's accuracy vs a non-accurate box doesn't give you a lot of useful information. Someone who is 95% accurate IRL may show up as 90% or 100% using the Ump Scorecard methodology. NOBODY should use it for anything other than entertainment purposes. /rant
 

zenax

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It looks good, and I'm the first person to defend umpires when it looks like they screwed up, but I'll go the other way here too. The box that Ump Scorecards uses is NOT that accurate to begin with. So measuring someone's accuracy vs a non-accurate box doesn't give you a lot of useful information. Someone who is 95% accurate IRL may show up as 90% or 100% using the Ump Scorecard methodology. NOBODY should use it for anything other than entertainment purposes. /rant
A pitch traveling 90 mph as it approaches the front of home plate is traveling more than 40 thousand millimeters per second. How well can a person standing 2-3 feet in back of home plate estimate when the ball first enters the strike zone?
And I'm not convinced it can be done perfectly on a baseball field with electronic means.
 

Rice4HOF

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A pitch traveling 90 mph as it approaches the front of home plate is traveling more than 40 thousand millimeters per second. How well can a person standing 2-3 feet in back of home plate estimate when the ball first enters the strike zone?
And I'm not convinced it can be done perfectly on a baseball field with electronic means.
I agree on both the difficulty of the person estimating and the technical challenges with the automated technology.

And you've stumbled upon one of the issues with the electronic means. The strike zone in the rulebook is defined as a 3D shape and if any part of the ball touches any part of that area, then it's a strike. The automated systems use a variety of methods, but they're all in 2D. The official one that MLB uses measures the ball as it is across the middle of the plate. So if a ball is knee high at the front of the plate, but 1mm below that in the middle, the automated zone considers that a ball, but by rule it should be a strike (same thing with a high pitch that drops just as it gets to the back of the plate... looks high to everyone, but might be a strike by the book).

As an umpire with proper training (and I have officiated a few pitchers who threw 90+, although not a regular basis), I can tell you that I CAN tell if any part of the ball was over the width of the plate at any point while it went past. Judging the height as it goes through there, however, is much more difficult, and we're left with having to use some clues to determine that (basically where the catcher's glove was when he caught it... for example - if we think it may or may not be too low and we see a catcher raise his glove, we assume he thought it was low and call it a ball - if he leaves his glove where it is, and it's at/above the knees then it's not too low and it's a strike).
 

Heating up in the bullpen

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And you've stumbled upon one of the issues with the electronic means. The strike zone in the rulebook is defined as a 3D shape and if any part of the ball touches any part of that area, then it's a strike. The automated systems use a variety of methods, but they're all in 2D. The official one that MLB uses measures the ball as it is across the middle of the plate. So if a ball is knee high at the front of the plate, but 1mm below that in the middle, the automated zone considers that a ball, but by rule it should be a strike (same thing with a high pitch that drops just as it gets to the back of the plate... looks high to everyone, but might be a strike by the book).
To the bolded, Moses didn’t bring the strike zone down from Mt Sinai on a stone tablet. If there’s a better way (there is) to get balls and strikes called correctly they can update the rule book to the zone that the machine calls.
 

zenax

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To the bolded, Moses didn’t bring the strike zone down from Mt Sinai on a stone tablet. If there’s a better way (there is) to get balls and strikes called correctly they can update the rule book to the zone that the machine calls.
In other words, make the strike zone two-dimensional?
 

thehitcat

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In other words, make the strike zone two-dimensional?
Or use advancing technology to figure out a way to do it in 3 dimensions. I mean it's a strike zone not rocket science. This is something they can figure out eventually even if the tech isn't here yet today.
 

zenax

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Or use advancing technology to figure out a way to do it in 3 dimensions. I mean it's a strike zone not rocket science. This is something they can figure out eventually even if the tech isn't here yet today.
I had access back in 2007 with efforts to build a system and they don't seem to have gotten very far yet.
 

trs

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That the top 3 most impactful misses were literally on pitches thrown one after the other is really quite impressive. Maybe he forgot which shoulder he usually looks over when calling balls and strikes?
 

Sprowl

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Another example of Triston Casas getting screwed over on a called third "strike".