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View Full Version : Article: Have the Twins been screwed by umpires?



Parker Hageman
09-18-2013, 11:33 AM
You can view the page at http://twinsdaily.com/content.php?r=2349-Have-the-Twins-been-screwed-by-umpires

mike wants wins
09-18-2013, 11:44 AM
Only stubbronness is keeping robots out, no reason to keep humans calling balls and strikes.

Dman
09-18-2013, 12:03 PM
A strike is a strike and ball is a ball with greater accuracy would be nice. If computer controlled and consistant it would take alot of angst out of the game for both pitchers and batters.

IdahoPilgrim
09-18-2013, 12:14 PM
I made the case a couple of months ago, in a pitch-framing thread, that maybe it was time for automated ball and strike calls. That not only eliminates the whole pitch-framing debate but this article shows it may be necessary just in general as well.

I expect MLB to move on this on an accelerated timetable, and have it in place for the 2023 season.

Willihammer
09-18-2013, 12:21 PM
I go back and forth. On one hand, an automated strike caller would purify the competition between pitcher and batter. On the other hand, since framing appears to be a real thing, a repeatable skill, then its another little thing to keep me as a viewer engaged in games.

adjacent
09-18-2013, 12:28 PM
I put framing in the same category as working the referees in another sport. Yes, it is a repeatable skill, but I am not sure it is a skill I want games decided on. I am all for automatic calling of balls and strikes, at least in MLB. It is not fair, even for umpires to ask them to do a task well that it is almost impossible for the human eye to do.

ashburyjohn
09-18-2013, 12:36 PM
while others suffered from shrinkage.

Sympathizes:
5633

(Yeah, I'm basically just spelling out Parker's joke.)

Way back in another age, I always felt that early-career Latroy Hawkins and especially Willie Banks would have been more successful if the umpires gave them half a chance. I don't know whether my one-sided fan's view would have been borne out by stats like Parker has pointed to here, though.

Do these records get down to the level of pitch count? I suspect if the first-pitch calls are going against the Twins on a systematic basis it matters more than later on - the difference between 1-0 and 0-1 is pretty huge on how the rest of the PA comes out. With all the counts lumped together, maybe that's why a seemingly large disparity between two teams like the Twins and Brewers doesn't translate into much difference in results.

jay
09-18-2013, 12:37 PM
As Costa’s points out, the Milwaukee Brewers, who at 55.3% have the highest amount of wrongly called pitches go in their favor, have nearly as bad of a record as the Twins. So it appears that even if the Twins had all the calls go their way, it still would not have changed the overall record much.

Parker, why would you assume that? How wouldn't the Brewers record have been even worse without the calls? We don't have a great way to quantify the true difference it caused, but you can't tell me it doesn't have an impact on each team's record.

That's like saying 'well, the Twins have hit 20 fewer homers than the Cubs this year, but their records are the same, so it wouldn't have mattered if they hit 20 more'. A bit more extreme, but the same line of reasoning.

Monkeypaws
09-18-2013, 12:41 PM
I watched the game last week where Pelfrey got screwed about three times in one inning. I'm sure it has an effect. That's where a bulldog mentality would help.

Jim Crikket
09-18-2013, 12:46 PM
You can't tell me that umpires are incapable of making the corrections necessary to improve the way they call balls/strikes. The problem is that they have absolutely no incentive to do so.

These egomaniacs actually seem to believe that the appropriate way fans should react to this kind of data is to insist on the players adjusting how they perform based on who the umpire is.

If umpires' compensation and perhaps even their jobs were influenced heavily by how accurately they called balls/strikes (not to mention outs), I guarantee you that we'd see a lot more accuracy in their calls. We wouldn't see NEARLY as much bias on 3-ball or 2-strike calls and we certainly would see a lot less "this rookie hasn't earned that call" crap.

Robots or other electronic calls of balls/strikes may be where we need to get, but I would prefer to see the THREAT of going there move umpires (and their union) toward accepting a compensation/employment system that places a high level of emphasis on competency and that certainly includes calling balls and strikes accurately.

IdahoPilgrim
09-18-2013, 12:53 PM
I remember this whole debate in tennis a while back - should electronic means be used to determine whether a ball is in or out. They finally put electronic monitoring in place, but the chair umpire retains the right to overrule the machine when he or she chooses. Of course, in practice, those who overrule the machine consistently soon find themselves out of a job...

Alex
09-18-2013, 01:05 PM
I think that more accurate and consistent strike zones would be a massive improvement to the game of baseball, far more than the system of replay they are implementing, where a lot of what happens after something is overturned will be subjective (not unlike the recent incident in the Twins game).

cmathewson
09-18-2013, 01:08 PM
I think both Doumit and Mauer struggle to get the low strike called because they are both tall for catchers. Gibson lives at the knees and most of the in-zone pitches called balls were in that area. Another reason to move Mauer to first and put Pinto back there in 2014.

jm3319
09-18-2013, 01:21 PM
Only stubbronness is keeping robots out, no reason to keep humans calling balls and strikes.


I disagree. i think it would HEAVILY favor the hitters, at least the very good ones. Think about players that already draw a lot of walks and have a good eye at the plate (AKA Mauer, Cabrera, etc). After a "calibration period" players would KNOW if a ball was a ball or a strike was a strike, even better than they do now. If the human element is removed, then batters just have to sit back and make the pitcher come to them. The very good one would chase balls out of the zone even less. It wouldn't turn a .250 hitter into a .350 hitter, but I feel like the best hitters would feast of a zone they knew with even higher accuracy.

In short, it'd force the pitcher to throw a strike and remove the "protecting the plate on 0-2" defensive mentality of the hitters, which I think would lead to fewer strikeouts and more hits.

jay
09-18-2013, 01:24 PM
In short, it'd force the pitcher to throw a strike and remove the "protecting the plate on 0-2" defensive mentality of the hitters, which I think would lead to fewer strikeouts and more hits.

Ironically, the data doesn't support "protecting the plate on 0-2". Out of every possible situation, you're most likely to get a ball called in that count if the pitch is close.

cmathewson
09-18-2013, 02:07 PM
Ironically, the data doesn't support "protecting the plate on 0-2". Out of every possible situation, you're most likely to get a ball called in that count if the pitch is close.

I was going to say that that is no longer the case. It is really hard to get a called third strike the way the umps call it in today's game. It used to be too easy. Not so anymore. To me, this is the main reason games are so long and we have to use so many pitchers. If umps just called the third strike regardless of the count, guys would start protecting the plate again.

TJW
09-18-2013, 02:18 PM
Here are the things that affect whether or not a pitch is called a ball or a strike:

1. Identity of the Umpire
2. Where the Umpire stands
3. What kind of vest the Umpire is wearing
4. Reputation of the Pitcher
5. The seniority of the Pitcher
6. How that Pitcher is locating on that particular day
7. Reputation of the Batter
8. The seniority of the Batter
9. Whether or not the Catcher can frame that kind of pitch
10. The pitch count
11. Whether there are runners on base
12. The number of outs
13. The score of the game
14. Whether or not the teams/umpire need to catch a flight immediately after the game
15. Regular season vs. Playoffs
16. Whether or not there is a likely rain delay coming up soon
17. The reaction of the fans
18. Whether the umpire needs to "make up" for a previous mistake
19. The identify of the Team
20. The ACTUAL LOCATION OF THE PITCH!!

I would say we definitely need something better than umpires.

Thrylos
09-18-2013, 05:49 PM
If the Twins had a savvy front office who can actually understand what the article said, they should have taken it to the off-season MLB meetings, demanding MLB fixing the problem. If that were Boston or the Yankees, that's what they'd do. But the Twins do not really understand what is going on.

The umpires have way too much say in the outcome of a game and things should change. If they do not perform and call things the correct way, they have no place in baseball...

Thegrin
09-18-2013, 05:51 PM
If the pitch counts were taken away from the umpires, it could cause a game wide imbalance towards the hitters or the pitchers. This could be remedied by legislating changes in how tight or how lose the strike zone is. How much of the "black" is called a strike ? A tall batter does not have the same strike-zone profile as a short batter. The umpires would need to check to make sure that the strike-zone profile of each batter is correct, and change it accordingly.

jorgenswest
09-18-2013, 06:27 PM
If the Twins want to find blame, they need only look in the mirror. While other teams are finding catchers skilled at managing the strike zone, the Twins have ignored or been ignorant of the data.

Are the Twins also behind in developing this skill in their minor league catchers?

cmathewson
09-18-2013, 06:44 PM
If the Twins want to find blame, they need only look in the mirror. While other teams are finding catchers skilled at managing the strike zone, the Twins have ignored or been ignorant of the data.

Are the Twins also behind in developing this skill in their minor league catchers?

We have a gold glove catcher who is one of the best I've seen at framing. But the umps make no effort to change their stance with a taller catcher. So they don't call the low strike when Joe is behind the plate. Doumit has the same problem, but he is also framing challenged in general.

I think the catching position will revert to 5 foot 10 guys who can get really low, work with pitchers and manage the running game. The days of the Mauers and the Poseys are numbered, especially with the concussion issue.

jokin
09-18-2013, 07:03 PM
We have a gold glove catcher who is one of the best I've seen at framing. But the umps make no effort to change their stance with a taller catcher. So they don't call the low strike when Joe is behind the plate. Doumit has the same problem, but he is also framing challenged in general.

I think the catching position will revert to 5 foot 10 guys who can get really low, work with pitchers and manage the running game. The days of the Mauers and the Poseys are numbered, especially with the concussion issue.

Good points, all. Also, when did MLB approve of home plate umpires setting up their line of sight a foot or more wide and off the plate (seemingly in order to better "see over" the bigger catchers)? When they set up that far away from the center of the plate, they of course inevitably, and frequently miss the low, outside strike.

jorgenswest
09-18-2013, 09:10 PM
Jose Molina is 6'2" and at least 250. It is time the Twins start seeing strike zone management as a skill that is developed and acquired.

OldManWinter
09-18-2013, 10:14 PM
MLB should UsE Robots Only To Evaluate Individual Umps Balls And Strikes Performance After Each Game ... With Umpire Compensation Based Partially On Their CompetAnce.

There Should Not Be So Much Disparity In What Teams Receive From Umps.

Certainly If The Twins Were Receiving The Same Breaks From UmP's As The Brewers, The W/L Record Would Be Better.

(Sorry About The Capital Letters But I Have Not Found A Guru).

John Bonnes
09-18-2013, 10:20 PM
This made me think about all the times that Gardy & Andy have preached that thei pitchers need to keep the ball "down in the zone." Could it be that the value in doing so is negated by Mauer, or that it is difficult for pitchers to do that (and have it recognized as a strike) when Mauer is behind the plate?

jorgenswest
09-18-2013, 10:22 PM
I won't disagree with the possibility of using technology.

It still does not excuse the failure of the Twins management. The data has been available to them since 2008. They make roster decisions knowing that humans are judging strikes and balls. Mike Fast's study about the impact on runs scored came prior to the offseason the Twins signed Doumit and the Rays signed Molina. The Pirates completely change their catching core from very poor in 2011 to very good with the inning of Martin in 2013.

Humans will be calling the strike zone in 2014. Will the Twins make excuses or changes?

notoriousgod71
09-18-2013, 10:35 PM
Ugh, I absolutely hate the idea of a stupid robot calling balls and strikes. I love the human element of the game, even if it does screw the Twins over from time to time. To me different strike zones are as much of the appeal of baseball as different stadiums. In no other sports are the dimensions of the playing field different and that's part of the reason I love baseball. I despise replay, I despise robotic strike zones, I despise the use of technology to "improve" the game.

mike wants wins
09-18-2013, 10:43 PM
Everyone should play by the same rules, human umpires destroy a chance at a fair competition.

jorgenswest
09-18-2013, 10:57 PM
The competition is fair. All major league teams play under the same conditions. No one forced the Twins to roster and extend Doumit. No one is denying them the opportunity to develop the skill of their catchers in the minors. They have the same opportunity to acquire catchers with this skill.

It isn't the umpires or the lack of technology that has damaged the Twins. They did it to themselves. Will they in 2014? Do they have any idea if Pinto it Herrmann are skilled in this area? Have they put resources into the pitch fx technology for their minor league teams? Do they have a team of people analyzing the data, reviewing the video and working with catchers on areas of the zone they are not getting strikes? Like almost everything else in baseball, managing the strike zone is a skill that can be acquired and developed. Some are very good. Some are not.

How much does it impact the game in runs scored? Joe Maddon said on a radio show that they calculated Molina saved them 50 runs last year. That is an astounding amount of runs. So many runs that the data is discounted completely by some. Many others are showing by their roster decisions that they are paying attention.

tmerrickkeller
09-18-2013, 11:00 PM
Arrrggh (in honor of national "Talk Like A Pirate" day tomorrow). I think ye need to allow for the humans to err. 'Tis the very error of the game what makes it feel so human.

mike wants wins
09-19-2013, 07:53 AM
no, the competition is not fair. If Tom Glavine gets pitches called strikes the opponents don't, that is not fair. If certain hitters get more calls in their favor than others, that is not fair.

Should a better chess player get to move his pieces differently? Should a great tennis player get balls called in that are out? Should a great basketball player get to push off (Jordan) and foul other players and not have a foul called? No, no, no. The rules should be enforced the same for everyone.

OldManWinter
09-19-2013, 10:08 AM
Honest Mistakes Or Differences In Judgement Can Be Accepted.

But, The Percentage Of Discrepancy IS Too Great For This To Be Purely "Honest Mistakes".

If Technology Was Used Immediately After Each Game To Evaluate The Calls, And Umps Were Then Penalized FinancialLy For Bad Balls&StrikeS, They Would Get It Right .... Or $Uffer.

mike wants wins
09-19-2013, 10:15 AM
The human element should be about the players and coaches....not the umpires, imo. I don't get why people like bad calls, can someone explain how having bad calls and calls favor one team is good for the game?

Dman
09-19-2013, 10:53 AM
The human element should be about the players and coaches....not the umpires, imo. I don't get why people like bad calls, can someone explain how having bad calls and calls favor one team is good for the game?


I agree with you. I find nothing good in an unfair judgement or call. I still hate that Jim Joyce made that call that ruined that pitchers no hitter. What is good about something like that when the result was not even true. The guy was out by a mile everyone could see that. it wasn't even close and the pitcher gets robbed of a major accomplishment.

If Balls and strikes are called fairly you don't need finesse catchers to prop up the strike zone as the playing field would be level as it should be anyway. I don't think I can be convinced to see mistakes in judgement as good for the game. The outcome of any sport should be based on the rules being equally and fairly applied to all participants as it makes the result more palatable to all those involved including the fans.

ericchri
09-19-2013, 11:42 AM
I'm probably in favor of robots calling balls and strikes. I'd be curious about the Technology though. How fast can it determine the call? I know Pitch f/x or whatever it is they show on TV is fairly quick, but there's a big difference between 1 and 3 seconds. How long does it take to calibrate itself for different batters (since the zone should vary depending on the size of the batter)? Regardless, get the Technology to work and I'm on-board with the robots.

IdahoPilgrim
09-19-2013, 11:59 AM
I'm probably in favor of robots calling balls and strikes. I'd be curious about the Technology though. How fast can it determine the call? I know Pitch f/x or whatever it is they show on TV is fairly quick, but there's a big difference between 1 and 3 seconds. How long does it take to calibrate itself for different batters (since the zone should vary depending on the size of the batter)? Regardless, get the Technology to work and I'm on-board with the robots.

I would imagine you could get results virtually instantaneously - just like you do with radar guns.

And none of this would make plate umpires unnecessary - they would still have to rule on whether a batter swung or not, whether it was a foul tip, whether a pitch hit the batter, etc. The technology would simply tell the plate umpire whether the pitch was in the strike zone or not, which is (as this article shows) more subjective now than is probably desirable.

h2oface
09-19-2013, 12:09 PM
Automated ball and strike calling is already 3 to 5 years late. Get on with it already!

jimbo92107
09-19-2013, 12:21 PM
"Has this negatively impacted the Twins 2013 season? As Costa’s points out, the Milwaukee Brewers, who at 55.3% have the highest amount of wrongly called pitches go in their favor, have nearly as bad of a record as the Twins. So it appears that even if the Twins had all the calls go their way, it still would not have changed the overall record much."

Good lord man, are you kidding?? With a staff composed of "pitch to contact" nibblers, those bad calls (strikes wrongly called balls) could have been absolutely deadly to pitchers that are hanging on by a thread, as most Twins starters have done all year.

Does this seem familiar?
Hitter with two outs gets a wrongly called walk. Next guy hits a bloop single. As a Minnesota fan, you know how this scenario plays out, because it happened dozens of times this season. What should have been the end of the inning turns into an undeserved disaster, because for some reason umpires don't call strikes on the edges...at least not for Twins pitchers.

Effectively, these bad calls have given opposing teams four outs instead of three many times this season.

This crappy umping probably didn't keep our boys out of the playoffs, but it's not hard to imagine it cost the team a dozen games.

I, for one, welcome the arrival of our robot strike zone masters!

BabyJesusBuxton
09-19-2013, 12:43 PM
If someone else already brought this up I apologize, I didn't read every post on here.

Maybe the reason the Twins aren't getting the close calls is because the pitch before missed by 2 feet as apposed to 3 inches. I can think of very few outings this year where the Twins starter had excellent control and worked the edges effectively and consistently.

Also, how many of those miscalled pitches were across the plate from where the catcher set up? It is common that if a catcher sets up on the inside corner and the pitch ends up outside on the edge of the zone it will get called a ball because the catcher has to reach for the pitch.

Personally, I don't want to watch a game called by computers. The umpires calling balls and strikes is one of the great parts of baseball IMO.

jimbo92107
09-19-2013, 12:54 PM
"Has this negatively impacted the Twins 2013 season? As Costa’s points out, the Milwaukee Brewers, who at 55.3% have the highest amount of wrongly called pitches go in their favor, have nearly as bad of a record as the Twins. So it appears that even if the Twins had all the calls go their way, it still would not have changed the overall record much."

Good lord man, are you kidding?? With a staff composed of "pitch to contact" nibblers, those bad calls (strikes wrongly called balls) could have been absolutely deadly to pitchers that are hanging on by a thread, as most Twins starters have done all year. Hitter with two outs gets a wrongly called walk. Next guy hits a bloop single. As a Minnesota fan, you know how this scenario plays out, because it happened dozens of times this season. What should have been the end of the inning turns into an undeserved disaster, because for some reason umpires don't call strikes on the edges...at least not for Twins pitchers.

This crappy umping probably didn't keep our boys out of the playoffs, but it's not hard to imagine it cost the team a dozen games.

I, for one, welcome the arrival of our robot strike zone masters!

ThePuck
09-19-2013, 01:08 PM
"Has this negatively impacted the Twins 2013 season? As Costa’s points out, the Milwaukee Brewers, who at 55.3% have the highest amount of wrongly called pitches go in their favor, have nearly as bad of a record as the Twins. So it appears that even if the Twins had all the calls go their way, it still would not have changed the overall record much."

Good lord man, are you kidding?? With a staff composed of "pitch to contact" nibblers, those bad calls (strikes wrongly called balls) could have been absolutely deadly to pitchers that are hanging on by a thread, as most Twins starters have done all year. Hitter with two outs gets a wrongly called walk. Next guy hits a bloop single. As a Minnesota fan, you know how this scenario plays out, because it happened dozens of times this season. What should have been the end of the inning turns into an undeserved disaster, because for some reason umpires don't call strikes on the edges...at least not for Twins pitchers.

This crappy umping probably didn't keep our boys out of the playoffs, but it's not hard to imagine it cost the team a dozen games.

I, for one, welcome the arrival of our robot strike zone masters!





A dozen games? You believe that a team that hits this poorly, fields this poorly, and pitches this poorly would have a winning record right now if not for the umpires?

Winston Smith
09-19-2013, 01:42 PM
Yes there is no need for any human element in the game and that is why they have video games for you guys that think that way.
This game has done just fine for about 150 years, at some point continued "making better" will change the essense of the game. If you don't think changing the essense is a big dig just watch this movie!
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_EpWyBZJXhgI/SQ4_ZxV2NII/AAAAAAAACUo/FYvMjkKDJ_Q/s400/Dr+Strangelove-725873.jpg

IdahoPilgrim
09-19-2013, 05:24 PM
This game has done just fine for about 150 years, at some point continued "making better" will change the essense of the game.


Except that the game has changed in 150 years - both the rules and the manner of play have evolved over time. Dead ball era, live ball era, lowering the pitching mound in the 60s, the advent of the DH in the American League, moving to divisions with divisional playoffs in the 60s, interleague play, the development of 5-man rotations, the recent emphasis on advanced metrics - all examples of a game evolving. I would see this as just another evolution. It will change the essence no more than any of these other did.

Heezy1323
09-19-2013, 07:44 PM
I think it's interesting that some people enjoy the human element to calling balls and strikes and yet lose their mind over plays like the Arizona State vs. Wisconsin ending in the football game last weekend. Bottom line- we need to get the calls right. Many games (in many sports) are played at such a high level and the difference between a win and loss is minuscule. To have the outcome decided by someone other than the players seems wrong. Just my two cents...