Is it time for robo umps? I, for one, would welcome the change with open arms. Any technology that helps officials get the calls right is a good thing in my book.
With that in mind, it’s no wonder that I loved every word of this study done by researchers at Boston University. They analyzed the work of MLB umpires for the last 11 seasons (that’s 4 million pitches) and found some very interesting results!
1. Last season, umpires made 34,294 incorrect ball and strike calls. That’s an average of 14 per game, or 1.6 per inning.
2. The count seemed to sway how an ump calls balls/strikes, particularly when there are already two strikes. In those cases, umpires were twice as likely to call a BALL a STRIKE. Balls are mistakenly called strikes 29% of the time when there are two strikes, compared to 15% of the time at lower strike counts.
3. Younger umps were better than older umps. Last year, the 10 most ACCURATE umpires averaged 37.8 years of age, with 6.3 years of experience. The 10 LEAST accurate averaged 56.6 years of age, with 23.1 years of experience.
4. NONE of the 10 most accurate umpires were selected for last year’s World Series. Ted Barrett, the 20-year veteran who was the crew chief in the World Series, ranked as the WORST umpire in 2018 with a bad call rate of 11.5%. Joe West, a 40-year veteran, was also selected to do the World Series, despite having the second-worst bad call rate in last year.
5. Last year alone, 55 games ended with incorrect ball-strike calls.
6. On the plus side, things are improving. In 2008, the bad call rate was 16.4%. Ten years later, in 2018, it was down to 9.2%, and the missed call rate had improved each season . . . meaning that baseball IS doing something right to address the issue.
Umpiring is hard. Let’s give those guys a hand and use the technology available to help make those calls!