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Publication Date: February 27, 2007
The Not-Really-Invisible Factor
So, you know everything about the two teams (or the other team, if you're one of them). You know all about the park and how it plays. You've got up-to-date weather information and crowd size projections. You're all set and know exactly what kind of game it will be, right? Well, it turns out that there's one more factor to check on.
This week's topic is a good reminder for me of why I publish my email address. I got a note last week from a player's parent, who will remain nameless in case the umpires turn out to be unhappy about this stuff but who is thanked, asking whether there was a way to measure umpires. I love the idea; the umpires' names are in most box scores, but no one's taken a comprehensive look at them at the college level, as far as I can tell.
The full report contains three measures that I've come up with. I don't know that they give a specific measure of quality, but they do provide some useful information on what kind of umpire each caller is. The three measures are Relative Run Rate (RRR), Relative Strikeout Rate (RKR), and Relative Walk Rate (RWR). RRR is the number of runs allowed by pitchers called by a home plate umpire (only home plate umpires are included in this study, since the base umps don't really have much that can be measured) divided by the average number of runs that those pitchers allowed during the season. RKR and RWR are equivalent measures for strikeouts and walks. The data included is for the 2005 and 2006 seasons and includes all umpires who showed up in at least ten box scores during that time.
The reason for using the rate for the specific pitchers instead of the teams, even though there's more information in the team rate, is that both pitchers and umpires tend to show up on the same day of the week, so there are some confusing factors involved in trying to use the team numbers. Similarly, the numbers are not park-adjusted, because you end up double-adjusting and adding more mud than light to the discussion.
As an example, let's look at the second guy on the alphabetized list:
Umpire Conference G RRR RKR RWR Adya, Chuck Horizon 10 1.17 0.83 0.81
In the 10 games Adya called over the last two years, the pitchers gave up 17% more runs per inning than they did overall. They got 17% fewer strikeouts, but, oddly gave up 19% fewer walks. Most umpires don't have that strikeout/walk contrast, but it's possible.
The whole list is worthy of review as a scouting tool, I think. For more information, here are the leaders at both ends for each category.
Umpire Conference G RRR 1 Walker, Dennis Big 12 14 1.85 2 Woodall, Bryant ACC 13 1.83 3 Assmann, Kevin Sun Belt 26 1.72 4 Harlow, Ben Mid-Continent 12 1.68 5 McCall, Ron Mountain West 10 1.68 6 Jones, Randy Big 12 10 1.60 7 Schepis, Josh MVC 25 1.58 8 Parnell, Mike Big South 18 1.54 9 Aldridge, Mike Southland 15 1.53 10 Friebe, Shane MVC 15 1.52 Umpire Conference G RRR 1 Simmons, Bob Independents 14 0.52 2 Parker, Bob Big East 13 0.57 3 Riley, John NEC 26 0.60 4 Rozzelle, Hal C-USA 12 0.65 5 Ligons, Reggie SWAC 10 0.66 6 Ramsey, John NEC 10 0.67 7 Condin, Dave MVC 25 0.67 8 Brahan, Tom C-USA 18 0.68 9 Meekas, Bill Patriot 15 0.69 10 Leach, Chris Mid-Continent 15 0.69 Umpire Conference G RKR 1 Marshall, Chris MAAC 11 1.29 2 Trevino, Richard Independents 12 1.27 3 Rozzelle, Hal C-USA 11 1.25 4 Doss, Ben Independents 15 1.22 5 Durrett, Tommy Southland 10 1.21 6 Amoruso, Peter NEC 20 1.21 7 Walker, Shay OVC 11 1.20 8 Scarbery, Rick WAC 25 1.20 9 Gonzales, Phil Mountain West 25 1.19 10 Aldridge, Mike Southland 15 1.18 Umpire Conference G RKR 1 Minard, Ralph Southland 11 0.59 2 Bowerman, Jeff MVC 12 0.63 3 Stahlbusch, Erik MAC 11 0.64 4 Perez, Dave Pac 10 15 0.66 5 Dilbeck, Tony CAA 10 0.66 6 Harlow, Ben Mid-Continent 20 0.69 7 Kovacich, Tom Horizon 11 0.70 8 Uyl, Mark MAC 25 0.70 9 Smith, Joseph SWAC 25 0.72 10 Snyder, Kendall Pac 10 15 0.72 Umpire Conference G RWR 1 Walker, Dennis Big 12 14 1.89 2 Uyl, Mark MAC 17 1.61 3 Stuck, Jim CAA 11 1.57 4 Lee, Doug Atlantic Sun 11 1.52 5 Gonzales, Kelly Mountain West 29 1.52 6 McCray, Mike Big South 20 1.50 7 Gonzales, Phil Mountain West 25 1.49 8 Nelson, Ed Southland 22 1.49 9 Johnson, Matt Big 12 15 1.49 10 Brasher, Brian MVC 13 1.48 Umpire Conference G RWR 1 Doss, Ben Independents 14 0.53 2 Evans, Mark WAC 17 0.56 3 Ramsey, John NEC 11 0.56 4 Carson, Fulton SWAC 11 0.60 5 Lenaeu, Jim Big West 29 0.64 6 Gottsegen, Cory Atlantic Sun 20 0.65 7 Simmons, Bob Independents 25 0.65 8 Cayson, Jackie OVC 22 0.66 9 Rozzelle, Hal C-USA 15 0.66 10 Walker, Kevin WCC 13 0.68
Now, my instinct is that these are useful numbers, but I'm curious about how they compare to people's anecdotal impressions, so let me hear from you on this one.
As far as general conclusions go, these numbers strike me as a fairly wide spread. Adya's numbers above aren't really that unusual; that's part of why I picked him -- he's about one standard deviation off from the mean on each category. But 17% is a fairly large impact; that's essentially the equivalent of saying that each time is going to score an extra run in his average game. Studying these umpiring tendencies, both for the coaches and the conference offices, looks to be worthwhile.
Another finding, which doesn't show up in the study because it only includes umpires who were behind the plate at least ten times in 2005 and 2006, is that there were a huge number of umpires who called exactly one game during those two years. It stands to reason that that's probably no an ideal state of affairs, and that is almost has to be bad for the game.
Other Business -- A Call for Fantasy Players
This has nothing to do with college baseball, but you're a reasonable pool of people to invite. I've set up a low-key fantasy baseball league on Yahoo! called Fathers and Sons which, despite the sexist title, is intended for fathers or mothers to compete with their sons or daughters. If that's something that fits into where your family is right now, please join up. It's Yahoo! League ID 124472. The rest of you, thanks for your patience.
Pitch Count Watch
Rather than keep returning to the subject of pitch counts and pitcher usage in general too often for my main theme, I'm just going to run a standard feature down here where I point out potential problems; feel free to stop reading above this if the subject doesn't interest you. This will just be a quick listing of questionable starts that have caught my eye -- the general threshold for listing is 120 actual pitches or 130 estimated, although short rest will also get a pitcher listed if I catch it. Don't blame me; I'm just the messenger.
|2/03||Alabama A&M||Bernard McKinney||Norfolk State||8.0||6||2||2||5||8||29||35||133(*)|
|2/03||Texas A&M-Corpus Christi||W Norman||Centenary||6.2||5||3||3||3||6||25||28||123|
|2/04||Savannah State||J Mock||Norfolk State||7.1||10||8||4||5||2||29||39||132(*)|
|2/06||Savannah State||Patrick Ballew||Charleston Southern||8.0||15||7||7||1||5||38||40||139|
|2/07||Concordia (AL)||McGuire||Alabama A&M||7.0||15||14||11||8||3||35||46||162(*)|
|2/09||Savannah State||Marcus Cortes||Radford||7.2||6||7||7||9||5||30||39||148(*)|
|2/10||Tuskegee||Reggie Hollins||Alabama State||9.0||6||5||4||8||3||32||41||148(*)|
|2/11||Arizona State||Josh Satow||Houston||9.0||6||1||1||1||8||33||34||139|
|2/11||Florida A&M||Ben Baylor||Navy||9.0||9||5||4||0||7||36||40||126|
|2/16||Arizona State||Josh Satow||Missouri||7.1||5||3||3||3||8||25||28||123|
|2/16||New Mexico||Bobby Lafromboise||Nebraska||8.0||3||1||1||3||9||26||32||133|
|2/16||Niagara||Wilson||East Tennessee State||7.2||5||4||3||4||8||29||33||128|
|2/16||UC Riverside||James Simmons||San Francisco||9.0||4||0||0||1||15||30||31||128|
|2/17||Penn State||Seth Whitehill||Kansas State||8.0||8||4||3||6||0||26||37||122|
|2/18||Old Dominion||Anthony Shawler||Pittsburgh||7.1||10||5||5||4||11||33||37||122|
|2/23||Navy||Mitch Harris||Air Force||7.2||3||1||1||5||8||25||30||125|
|2/23||Texas-San Antonio||Josh Ruffin||Gonzaga||8.0||6||3||3||3||9||29||33||136|
|2/23||Texas-Arlington||Chris Taylor||Missouri State||6.0||10||6||6||2||8||26||30||126|
|2/24||Texas A&M-Corpus Christi||Omar Gutierrez||Florida Atlantic||6.0||8||9||9||6||4||26||34||128|
|2/24||William and Mary||Kevin Landry||Maryland-Baltimore County||6.0||5||0||0||3||8||24||28||122|
|2/25||Oral Roberts||Michael Jarman||Baylor||8.0||4||2||1||4||14||28||34||137|
|2/25||Savannah State||M Sherrod||St. Peter's||8.0||8||5||2||7||7||28||38||144(*)|
|2/28||Oklahoma||Joseph Hughes||Wichita State||8.0||6||4||4||3||5||27||32||126|
|2/28||Concordia (AL)||Heard||Alabama A&M||8.0||12||13||9||3||6||39||46||155(*)|
(*) Pitch count is estimated. As always, I welcome actual pitch count corrections.If you're interested in reprinting this or any other Boyd's World material for your publication or Web site, please read the reprint policy and contact me
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