Is it time for Robot umpires? After reading this from ESPN it seems like a slam-dunk argument! A new study by Boston University looked at the results of nearly FOUR MILLION pitches from the past 11 seasons, and here are some of the things they found out:
1. Just 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. Umpires ARE influenced by the count, 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. Fans love to ask umpires if they’re “going blind,” and there might actually be something to that . . . because there was a clear difference based on AGE.
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. And 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. (Clearly, they’re getting the gig based on seniority, not performance.)
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.
And they better, because it seems like we’re very close to being able to use technology to call balls and strikes WITHOUT human umpires . . . if baseball chooses to pursue that route. Here’s the complete story from ESPN.