Sports

Big Data Explains Why Umpires Make Bad Calls

06th Apr `14, 04:55 AM in Sports

Holliday’s body language speaks clearly, and his reaction is understandable. The pitch was wide, even wider than the…

BDMS
Guest Contributor
 

Holliday’s body language speaks clearly, and his reaction is understandable. The pitch was wide, even wider than the first two pitches, both of which the umpire miscalled as strikes. Here’s the data:

The PITCHf/x technology that makes this graphic possible, whatever its value or threat to umpires, has been a boon for sabremetricians and social scientists. The big data provided can tell us not just the number of bad calls but the factors that make a bad call more or less likely.

In the New York Times, Brayden King and Jerry Kim report on their study of roughly 780,000 pitches in the 2008-09 season. Umpires erred on about 1 in every 7 pitches – 47,000 pitches over the plate that were called balls, and nearly 69,000 like those three to Matt Holliday.

Here are some of the other findings that King and Kim report in today’s article. Umpires gave a slight edge to the home team pitchers, calling 13.3% of their pitches outside the zone as strikes. Visitors got 12.6%.

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