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Umpires get ball/strike calls wrong 14% of the time, study finds

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By Houston Mitchell

March 31, 201412:08 p.m.


Ever wonder just how accurate major league umpires are at calling balls and strikes? They obviously aren't as accurate as us fans sitting in the seats -- after all, we're always right. But what percentage of ball/strike calls would you guess that umpires botch? 5%? 8%?


Would you believe 14%?


Researchers Brayden King and Jerry Kim analyzed more than 700,000 pitches thrown during the 2008 and 2009 seasons and found that about 14% of non-swinging pitches were called erroneously. King and Kim made their study by analyzing pitch-location data compiled by the high-speed cameras used by Major League Baseball to monitor umpires’ accuracy.


Here are some of the more notable ways they say umps make mistakes:

--Umpires tended to favor the home team by expanding the strike zone, calling a strike when the pitch was actually a ball 13.3% of the time for home-team pitchers.

--Umpires were 13% more likely to call a strike a ball in the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game than in the top of the first inning, on the first pitch.

--When the count was 3-and-0, umpires mistakenly called a strike 18.6% of the time.

--Umpires were 10% less likely to expand the strike zone for African American pitchers than for Caucasian pitchers.

You can read more about the study here.


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Circumstantial evidence with no qualifiers or opposing viewpoints has no place in a reputable newspaper.

1- See: Leslie Neilson in Naked Gun.

2- This suggests that the umpires want to hurry the game along but takes no account for how much more accurate closers are than starters. For all we know, closers are over 13% more accurate and the umpire just doesn't want the fun to be over.

3- That's not a mistake. Also, 3-0 is the only count where pitchers try to throw taters.

4- Now you say the umpire loves home-team called strikes, he loves 3-0 called strikes and he loves strikes at the end of the game UNLESS the pitcher is African American? If the author is going to point fingers at an alleged pattern which he deems to be racism, he should be aware that since 9-11 hyphenating one's Americanism is not p.c. Instead, we use degrees of chocolate.

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