Baseball stat heads tracked 4M pitches to prove that umpires really are blind

Well ok. I guess I shouldn’t get too upset on the blown calls during D1 games since the MLB umps aren’t much better. The article says the older umps are worse. My guess is it’s because of a deterioration of their eyesight. Same as what happens to hitters. Not a proponent of age discrimination, but maybe something should be done. 

RJM posted:

The article says umpires are wrong 20% of the time. Most questionable calls are around the edge of the plate. Tracking devices are only accurate to within an inch. How many wrong calls were outside the one inch margin of error?

https://thenextweb.com/science...es-really-are-blind/

Yawn...  Another study to replace the human element with technology.  Again, be careful for what you wish.

BTW, I saw no where in that linked article where it said anything about "around the edge of the plate". One had to read the linked study from the article to draw that correlation for the missed calls from top/bottom and left/right - shocking really, never could believe that ;-).  How many down the middle calls were missed? How many pitches were swung at outsize the zone?  Does that make batters blind too? May have been interesting to know what percentage for each count - that is how many 'missed' at 0-0, 1-0, 2-0... How many times on a 3-0 count do you see a ball "just miss" technically, but is called a strike - mostly as a mechanism to keep flow to the game. The questions asked in the comments in the study actually are quite interesting to read as well... Showing that anyone can generate stats to agree with a hypothesis made.

 

"...A team from Boston University got its hands on the data, tracking more than four million pitches and superimposing them onto a normalized version of the standard strike zone map — the same one, roughly, you see on every TV broadcast.  ..."

What is standard between the strike zone of a 6'5" and 5'8" man?   There's a bit of room for error with accuracy to within one inch when “Home plate is a 17-inch square of whitened rubber with two of the corners removed so that one edge is 17 inches long, two adjacent sides are 8 1/2 inches each and the remaining two sides are 12 inches each and set at an angle to make a point.". So does the study only measure 16 of the 17 inches? Or 11 of the 12? or 7 1/2 of the 8 1/2? or does it go in the other direction? Someone smarter than me can do a volume assessment on what percentage 1" is of the volume of the plate for a "standard" zone, but if we discount the 3rd dimension if 17*12 = 204 and 16*11 = 176 and 176/204 = 0.86 - what does that say about accuracy of the study? Something not mentioned in the study - if they're so smart that could have put in there to indicate that the margin of error would be XX% because of the accuracy concern, but that didn't fit the hypothesis and would certain skew their numbers, so it's left out.

I'm not against technology - it's my profession. Car guys will say, give me a car without computers, right? How many distrust the check engine light that causes you to fail annual inspection merely because some other mechanical part is failing. A part that costs maybe $10, but takes 3 hours to get to within the exhaust system. In some ways technology has helped our lives, but in others - not so sure.  In the long run baseball is a game, enjoy the game and stop nickle and diming one particularly frustrating aspect of it. 

I would be for a promotion system.worst umps by pitch fx evaluation get demoted to AAA and best AAA umps get promoted to mlb. This could weed out some declining umps and improve ump quality.

Umps did get much better since pitch fx was installed but promotion system would make it even better.

But yes, of course most missed calls are tight "50/50" calls albeit there are some exceptions.

I would be interested in a bad call stat, i.e missed calls by more than 2-3 inches.

 

Btw it actually is a myth that the K zone increases with two strikes (unfortunately even propagated in the article). Strike zone gets smaller with 2 strikes and bigger with 3 balls. Umps don't like to end at bats.

https://blogs.fangraphs.com/th...trike-zone-by-count/

I think the stat guys forgot to consider that takes are much rarer in the zone. Z swing rate is more than twice as high as o swing rate so there are simply more chances to have false positive strike counts than false positive ball counts 

 

Interesting study.  This got me thinking a little too much about the parallels of this process and what I do for a living.  Essentially, my job is to help my customers transform their business systems to take financial advantage of both their company's datacenter resources and the cloud.  Here's the deal...transformation is something you have to want to do and it is focused on people.  Businesses have to want to transform otherwise the other two steps (modernize and automate) to get to a transformation goal is just wasted time and money.  So far,  I see an MLB that knows it needs to transform but is going about it in a very weird way focused on the wrong things and resisting it at every step.  Transforming isn't about the technology of calling balls and strikes, it is about changing the way we think about baseball.   Modernizing  through equipment and automating using software by itself is not transformation.   Humans have to change their mindset about baseball and this may take a baseball generation.  My kids grew up on the internet, cell phones, etc....   They are comfortable with this.  If MLB can focus their efforts on changing the minds of baseball teens, 20 and 30 year olds then this has a shot. 

I've been playing tennis my whole life, I'm almost 57 years old.  Replay on line calls has been around for almost 20 years in production (30 years of development) for the major tournaments and has made its way to lower level tournaments on both the mens and womens tour.   Tennis is a faster game than baseball.   This really was a no brainer, and it wasn't that difficult to change the minds of the players and its fans that a machine generated image is the basis for a correct call or incorrect call that can be changed by the umpire or player...pretty freaking simple if you ask me.   It just seems to me that MLB and its fans are making this harder than it needs to be.  Embrace change, because it is going to happen.

As always, JMO

Just curious. 

Even if umpires are wrong 20% of the time, is it bothering anybody? Are there people who shut the TV off when an umpire punches somebody out on a borderline call? I hear all this talk about why we need robot umpires and an electronic strike zone, but fail to understand why. That one missed call is almost always a 50/50 ball that is a hair off the plate, or high/low. I've been watching a lot of baseball and haven't really seen anything so egregious it warrants the removal of home plate umps. 

I think this is analytics taken too far. There is some nerd who has most likely never played baseball sitting in a room somewhere tracking pitches and determining that baseball needs to do something about the "umpire problem". MLB probably has the best officiating of any of the 4 major sports. 

If someone is going to make this argument, might as well have no umpires and let the computers make all the calls. No challenges, no arguments and a faster game. Go all in

I agree. I would prefer the robo ump but really mlb loses no money with bad calls. Fans will go off on ump decisions but nobody will turn off the tv. In the end it is a zero sum game for mlb even though of course it can be costly for an individual player or even franchise.

Dominik85 posted:

I agree. I would prefer the robo ump but really mlb loses no money with bad calls. Fans will go off on ump decisions but nobody will turn off the tv. In the end it is a zero sum game for mlb even though of course it can be costly for an individual player or even franchise.

But why the preference? It just seems like a not broken don't fix it situation. 

Dominik85 and PABaseball,

Thank you for making my point.   You (and me) are not the people that MLB needs to targeting.  You are not in your teens, twentys or thirties.  Every major sport is modernizing, automating and transforming their business to compete with other major sports to their existing fanbase and trying to bring new ones into the fold.   I gave you my example of tennis, although I would consider tennis a major world sport...it is not a major sport in the United States.  Yes, tennis is progressive and probably ahead of the curve.  The game is fast and there is a lot of money on the line through sponsorships and prize money.   Nobody wanted bad line calls (especially on 140+ mph serves) and there could be no suggestion of line calls being influenced by others...betting is allowed in Europe.  I can name a half dozen really bad line calls in major championships before the ATP and WTA agreed to implement video and computer line calls.  80% right is not good enough period.... in any professional sport.  Let's give professional athletes the best possible system not the same system we have in sandlots and Little League fields.   This is absolutely ridiculous to me.  I happen to love both tennis and baseball, but they are on opposite ends of the spectrum.   Baseball doesn't realize it has a problem...20% of the time.   Tennis knew it had a problem and did something about it.   I'd really like to know what the younger professional baseball players at all levels would (honestly) think if they could have a predictable, and accurate strike zone (based on their specific dimensions) 100% of the time or if they prefer 80%.  

As always, JMO.

fenwaysouth posted:

Dominik85 and PABaseball,

Thank you for making my point.   You (and me) are not the people that MLB needs to targeting.  You are not in your teens, twentys or thirties.  Every major sport is modernizing, automating and transforming their business to compete with other major sports to their existing fanbase and trying to bring new ones into the fold.   I gave you my example of tennis, although I would consider tennis a major world sport...it is not a major sport in the United States.  Yes, tennis is progressive and probably ahead of the curve.  The game is fast and there is a lot of money on the line through sponsorships and prize money.   Nobody wanted bad line calls (especially on 140+ mph serves) and there could be no suggestion of line calls being influenced by others...betting is allowed in Europe.  I can name a half dozen really bad line calls in major championships before the ATP and WTA agreed to implement video and computer line calls.  80% right is not good enough period.... in any professional sport.  Let's give professional athletes the best possible system not the same system we have in sandlots and Little League fields.   This is absolutely ridiculous to me.  I happen to love both tennis and baseball, but they are on opposite ends of the spectrum.   Baseball doesn't realize it has a problem...20% of the time.   Tennis knew it had a problem and did something about it.   I'd really like to know what the younger professional baseball players at all levels would (honestly) think if they could have a predictable, and accurate strike zone (based on their specific dimensions) 100% of the time or if they prefer 80%.  

As always, JMO.

Having a predictable accurate strike zone would make hitting a heck of a lot easier

Before instant replay was used for calls baseball repeatedly told us the umpires made the correct call (pitches or anywhere on the field) 98% of the time. When I believed this I didn’t want replay involved in officiating the game. What replay has done is shown is the 98% number was nothing but propaganda to protect the integrity of the umpires. 

I question the 20% on strikes if the margin of error is an inch. But if they get 10% wrong it’s too many. The number of calls overturned at first is amazing. I’m happy “in the neighborhood, the throw beat you” out calls are over and done with. Sliding around a tag is a skill. 

fenwaysouth posted:

Dominik85 and PABaseball,

Thank you for making my point.   You (and me) are not the people that MLB needs to targeting.  You are not in your teens, twentys or thirties.  Every major sport is modernizing, automating and transforming their business to compete with other major sports to their existing fanbase and trying to bring new ones into the fold.   I gave you my example of tennis, although I would consider tennis a major world sport...it is not a major sport in the United States.  Yes, tennis is progressive and probably ahead of the curve.  The game is fast and there is a lot of money on the line through sponsorships and prize money.   Nobody wanted bad line calls (especially on 140+ mph serves) and there could be no suggestion of line calls being influenced by others...betting is allowed in Europe.  I can name a half dozen really bad line calls in major championships before the ATP and WTA agreed to implement video and computer line calls.  80% right is not good enough period.... in any professional sport.  Let's give professional athletes the best possible system not the same system we have in sandlots and Little League fields.   This is absolutely ridiculous to me.  I happen to love both tennis and baseball, but they are on opposite ends of the spectrum.   Baseball doesn't realize it has a problem...20% of the time.   Tennis knew it had a problem and did something about it.   I'd really like to know what the younger professional baseball players at all levels would (honestly) think if they could have a predictable, and accurate strike zone (based on their specific dimensions) 100% of the time or if they prefer 80%.  

As always, JMO.

I'll be the first to admit baseball has an audience problem, can't deny that. But automating umpires is not the solution to the problem. Technology within the confines of the game is not the solution. I understand what you're saying, introduce technology to familiarize people with it. But technology or the lack of technology is not where baseball is failing. 

Baseball's biggest problem does not involve technology or social media. They are doing everything the NBA and NFL does. Baseball's problem can be traced all the way down to little league, parenting and club baseball. Not enough kids are playing, not enough parents are involved/invested, and there are too many 8u travel teams. 

Without going down that route too much and trying to stay on topic...I will agree that 80% is not enough. That being said, it's one study. MLB needs to run their own study and address the results, however poor they might be. Reestablish the strike zone with umpires and give them two years to fix or or they will move on with either replacements or an Ezone. 

But for the people who say baseball desperately needs an electronic zone are misguided. 

FWIW - I will admit I would rather umpires get the call wrong 60% of the time than see an electronic strike zone. Changing a game, that doesn't necessarily need fixing, due to social pressure doesn't really sit well with me. Pandering to cries from the vocal minority is not how you deal with problems. If they did a study and said hey our umps suck we're making a change...different story. 

Have seen some bad umpiring this year. Strike zones vary, but it's frustrating when the zone changes within a game. Perhaps a topic for another day is the inconsistent scoring I've observed this year at the college level. Maybe I'm cynical, but I sense some rulings changed from error to hit, once a run doesn't score, thus not affecting a pitcher's ERA. Watching MLB games scoring seems more uniform.

Every time I see a particularly filthy curveball catching one of the corners it makes me ponder the question "Is the strike zone 3-dimensional--does it have depth?"  It's defined as "the area over home plate", so it does have depth by that defition, though statcast only sees it in two dimensions and I think for most people it's two dimensional.  If my geometry is correct, the distance from the front edge to back tip of home plate is 17", and I have seen many late breaking curveballs with a LOT of break happening in that 17" distance--enough at least that during some portion of it's travel through that distance the pitch is both in AND out of the strike zone as I see it.

RJM posted:

Before instant replay was used for calls baseball repeatedly told us the umpires made the correct call (pitches or anywhere on the field) 98% of the time. When I believed this I didn’t want replay involved in officiating the game. What replay has done is shown is the 98% number was nothing but propaganda to protect the integrity of the umpires. 

I question the 20% on strikes if the margin of error is an inch. But if they get 10% wrong it’s too many. The number of calls overturned at first is amazing. I’m happy “in the neighborhood, the throw beat you” out calls are over and done with. Sliding around a tag is a skill. 

But, statistically, if you consider the margin of error on 4 million pitches, there were most likely as many incorrect calls logged as correct due to the margin of error as there were correct calls logged as incorrect. 

DALEX posted:

If my geometry is correct, the distance from the front edge to back tip of home plate is 17", and I have seen many late breaking curveballs with a LOT of break happening in that 17" distance--enough at least that during some portion of it's travel through that distance the pitch is both in AND out of the strike zone as I see it.

The 8.5 inch "sides" of the plate also come into play with horizontal movement. I don't think I've never seen a high 12-6 breaker that clips the top rear point of the plate on its way down get called a strike. When the transition to electronic strike zone happens, I think the rules will be changed to fit the technology (e.g. no longer 3 dimensional) and will more closely resemble how strikes are actually called.

DALEX posted:

Every time I see a particularly filthy curveball catching one of the corners it makes me ponder the question "Is the strike zone 3-dimensional--does it have depth?"  It's defined as "the area over home plate", so it does have depth by that defition, though statcast only sees it in two dimensions and I think for most people it's two dimensional.  If my geometry is correct, the distance from the front edge to back tip of home plate is 17", and I have seen many late breaking curveballs with a LOT of break happening in that 17" distance--enough at least that during some portion of it's travel through that distance the pitch is both in AND out of the strike zone as I see it.

I used to have the MLB package. I would get tired of Jerry Remy and watch opposing team broadcasts. Too bad the Orioles have nothing to talk about. They have a great broadcast team.

One game the Rays broadcast team focused on the pitch tracker and how it works. They provided a flame like the old NHL “follow the puck” broadcasts. The pitch tracker is three dimensional. Some breaking pitches visually questionable were hitting deep in the strike zone. Some big breaking curves that looked like strikes in two dimensions (tv) were dropping in behind the strike zone.

PABaseball posted:
fenwaysouth posted:

Dominik85 and PABaseball,

Thank you for making my point.   You (and me) are not the people that MLB needs to targeting.  You are not in your teens, twentys or thirties.  Every major sport is modernizing, automating and transforming their business to compete with other major sports to their existing fanbase and trying to bring new ones into the fold.   I gave you my example of tennis, although I would consider tennis a major world sport...it is not a major sport in the United States.  Yes, tennis is progressive and probably ahead of the curve.  The game is fast and there is a lot of money on the line through sponsorships and prize money.   Nobody wanted bad line calls (especially on 140+ mph serves) and there could be no suggestion of line calls being influenced by others...betting is allowed in Europe.  I can name a half dozen really bad line calls in major championships before the ATP and WTA agreed to implement video and computer line calls.  80% right is not good enough period.... in any professional sport.  Let's give professional athletes the best possible system not the same system we have in sandlots and Little League fields.   This is absolutely ridiculous to me.  I happen to love both tennis and baseball, but they are on opposite ends of the spectrum.   Baseball doesn't realize it has a problem...20% of the time.   Tennis knew it had a problem and did something about it.   I'd really like to know what the younger professional baseball players at all levels would (honestly) think if they could have a predictable, and accurate strike zone (based on their specific dimensions) 100% of the time or if they prefer 80%.  

As always, JMO.

I'll be the first to admit baseball has an audience problem, can't deny that. But automating umpires is not the solution to the problem. Technology within the confines of the game is not the solution. I understand what you're saying, introduce technology to familiarize people with it. But technology or the lack of technology is not where baseball is failing. 

Baseball's biggest problem does not involve technology or social media. They are doing everything the NBA and NFL does. Baseball's problem can be traced all the way down to little league, parenting and club baseball. Not enough kids are playing, not enough parents are involved/invested, and there are too many 8u travel teams. 

Without going down that route too much and trying to stay on topic...I will agree that 80% is not enough. That being said, it's one study. MLB needs to run their own study and address the results, however poor they might be. Reestablish the strike zone with umpires and give them two years to fix or or they will move on with either replacements or an Ezone. 

But for the people who say baseball desperately needs an electronic zone are misguided. 

FWIW - I will admit I would rather umpires get the call wrong 60% of the time than see an electronic strike zone. Changing a game, that doesn't necessarily need fixing, due to social pressure doesn't really sit well with me. Pandering to cries from the vocal minority is not how you deal with problems. If they did a study and said hey our umps suck we're making a change...different story. 

PABB - I will tell you what I really am sick of - the endless whining by pitchers, hitters and coaches about balls & strikes.  All the chatter out here doesn't really effect me at all.

To illustrate - does anyone really miss the Manager charging out of a dugout, screaming at an umpire, who walks up the 1st base line and after couple of minutes chucks the guy which then allows him to really go off and kick dirt, throw bases and all the other horse crap that used to happen?  Or is it better to have the guy stay in the dugout, hold his hand up for 15 seconds, and either protest the call or the game moves on?  I do not miss these Earl Weaver-ish tirades.

Fenway makes the point about tennis lines - John McEnroe was a 1st rate butthead and ending that type of nonsense - worth it.

Anything....ANYTHING that stops the chirping is a good idea IMO with this single caveat - it doesn't stop the game for an lengthy period.  To the extent the players and managers accept the solution - so will everyone else.

luv baseball posted:
 

....................

Fenway makes the point about tennis lines - John McEnroe was a 1st rate butthead and ending that type of nonsense - worth it.

......................

luvbb,

Ironically, McEnroe was one of the guys that championed automated line calls because he thought all umpires were incompetent which is one reason why he challenged them.   The other reason was he was a 1st rate butthead.  It all started with serves (Cyclops system) then quickly moved to baseline and sideline calls.  The current technology is computer modeled based on many, many cameras on the court that render a computer generated image.  The players can challenge a call and an umpire has final say and overrule capability.   McEnroe has since tried to become a defacto commissioner of tennis.   It won't happen in our lifetime.

I'm hoping we've got something in the works with MLB.  Hopefully, we'll know more after the upcoming CBA has been finalized.   Ultimately it is something the players have to want and get included.  

Yep -bitching players...who wants to watch that - no matter what sport it is. 

Guys like McEnroe just amplified the need to make it stop...and I would guess all players would be like him.  If the resulting technology is something they have confidence in....they will be quiet and accept the outcome. 

And that is a winner.

Does baseball really have an audience problem?  I hear that a lot, but the truth is, they reap more and more money every year, and the growth is huge, not slow.  (Which is why player salaries are heading to the moon.)  Commentators seem to think the games are too slow and take too long, but I don't hear anyone suggesting they cut the length of commercial breaks.  Those are what's driving the time issues, but of course, they also drive the $$$.  In any event, I don't hear anyone who paid hundreds of dollars to take their family to a game saying, "You know, I just wish I'd only gotten 2 hours of entertainment for my money."

That being said, I long ago got my fill of umpires who like to talk about "my zone."  It's not your zone, buddy.  There's a rule book and you're being paid to apply it.  No one asked you to put your own personal spin on it.

So, I'm all for the machines.  A simple ding sound would signify a strike and the call could be quickly posted to the scoreboard.  Something similar for balls.

You'd still need an HPU because someone has to call plays at the plate, fair/foul, and many foul tips, HBP's, catcher interferences, etc.  Plus someone has to step in if the machine goes down.

My only caveat would be that we need to get straight how the machine sets up its box.  The sides of the plate are stationary, but the upper and lower limits have to be reset with every new batter.  If you read the rule book and then look at K Zone on TV, the K Zone box cuts off a fair amount of the upper strike zone.  I don't know why this is or who's programming that thing, but they should be fired.  Right now, the upper line tends to get set at the belt buckle, and that's not what the rule book says.  I don't remember anyone telling the K Zone people, "Ignore the rule book and keep doing what the umpires have been doing." I thought the whole point of K Zone was to push the umps to get back to the rules as published, but at the upper limit, it's not happening.  Not yet, anyway.

I could imagine each jersey having a chip in it that communicates with the system as to where the upper limit is.  Maybe another chip in the pants for the lower limit, too.  Monkeying with your chips would be like using a corked bat in terms of ejections/suspensions.

BTW, if you think MLB is turning into home run derby and not enough of the scrappy play that I personally enjoy,  calling the high strike is the ticket.  A batter who has to protect against the full height of the rule book strike zone will have a lot of difficulty using today's typical MLB "launch angle" swing as his standard approach.  That uppercut path struggles with higher pitches, which is why batters carp every time an ump calls anything above the belt -- they can't hit it, so they act like it just shouldn't be called.

Midlo Dad posted:

 

My only caveat would be that we need to get straight how the machine sets up its box.  The sides of the plate are stationary, but the upper and lower limits have to be reset with every new batter.  If you read the rule book and then look at K Zone on TV, the K Zone box cuts off a fair amount of the upper strike zone.  I don't know why this is or who's programming that thing, but they should be fired.  Right now, the upper line tends to get set at the belt buckle, and that's not what the rule book says.  I don't remember anyone telling the K Zone people, "Ignore the rule book and keep doing what the umpires have been doing." I thought the whole point of K Zone was to push the umps to get back to the rules as published, but at the upper limit, it's not happening.  Not yet, anyway.

The Trackman operator marks a line "at the batter's belt as he settles into the hitting position", then the software adds 4" to establish the top of the zone. That's obviously not the same as "the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants". That's an MLB decision, not the programmer's decision. They use those numbers to evaluate umpires, so I assume they want it to more closely resemble the real world. The official strike zone has changed before, it's way past time to change it again.

Add Reply

Likes (0)
×
×
×
×