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Articles Tagged Umpires 

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05-29

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7

Skewed Left: What We've Learned About Replay
by
Zachary Levine

05-23

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15

Overthinking It: The 12-Second Rule and the Boring-ization of Baseball
by
Ben Lindbergh

05-19

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0

BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 452: The Exaggerated Demise of Managerial Ejections
by
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller

05-19

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6

Pebble Hunting: How to Still Get Ejected
by
Sam Miller

05-13

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6

Working the Count: Don't Take Two Close Ones, Part One
by
Noah Woodward

03-20

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18

Understanding the Umpire-Manager Arguments of 2013
by
Evan Brunell

03-13

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25

Skewed Left: The Good and the Bad News About Instant Replay's Spring Trial
by
Zachary Levine

01-28

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2

BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 373: Why the Manager Challenge System Might Be Broken
by
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller

08-22

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27

The Lineup Card: 11 Plays for Which We Wish We'd Had Instant Replay Review
by
Baseball Prospectus

08-22

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11

Skewed Left: Miking Up Umpires
by
Zachary Levine

08-16

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1

BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 267: Why We're Happy About Expanded Replay Review
by
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller

08-07

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21

The Stats Go Marching In: Is it Time to Lift the Ban on Left-Handed Catchers?
by
Max Marchi

05-29

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1

The BP Wayback Machine: In the Slot
by
Gary Huckabay

05-24

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3

BP Unfiltered: Justin Grimm Steals an Out
by
Jason Cole

05-21

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7

BP Unfiltered: Former MLB Umpire Jim McKean on Catcher Framing
by
Ben Lindbergh

05-13

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16

Pebble Hunting: The Strike Zone Solution
by
Sam Miller

04-09

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30

Overthinking It: What We Know About the Blown Call
by
Ben Lindbergh

04-08

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0

BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 176: Jose Fernandez and Service Time/Jose Bautista and Umpire Payback
by
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller

04-06

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7

BP Unfiltered: Jose Bautista's One-Way War with Umpires
by
Ben Lindbergh

03-15

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9

BP Unfiltered: A Bad Framer, a Bad Call, and an Encouraging Stat About Umpires
by
Ben Lindbergh

01-25

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18

Overthinking It: Understanding the Umpire-Manager Arguments of 2012
by
Ben Lindbergh and Evan Brunell

01-24

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2

BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 125: The Umpire-Manager Relationship
by
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller

08-22

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22

Manufactured Runs: Is the Answer to Imperfect Umpiring Really Robot Umps?
by
Colin Wyers

06-26

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3

BP Unfiltered: Today in Entirely Speculative Out Calls
by
Ben Lindbergh

06-26

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2

BP Unfiltered: Google and Anti-Umpire Search Suggestions
by
Ben Lindbergh

06-21

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7

In A Pickle: The War For the Ballfields
by
Jason Wojciechowski

06-13

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14

Overthinking It: Who Is the Best Umpire?
by
Ben Lindbergh

06-06

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6

BP Unfiltered: The Left Fielder with Nothing to Lose
by
Ben Lindbergh

12-02

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8

Baseball ProGUESTus: Should We Welcome Our New Robot Overlords?
by
Alex S. Cook

09-07

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13

Spinning Yarn: Home Plate Umpire Positioning
by
Mike Fast

06-01

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6

Spinning Yarn: The Real Strike Zone, Part 2
by
Mike Fast

05-11

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16

Wezen-Ball: Conflicting Feelings About Instant Replay
by
Larry Granillo

04-22

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4

Prospectus Q&A: Mike Teevan
by
David Laurila

02-16

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59

Spinning Yarn: The Real Strike Zone
by
Mike Fast

10-22

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24

Prospectus Perspective: Four Hours of TV, 10 Minutes of Action
by
Steven Goldman

10-27

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40

World Series Prospectus: The Umpires
by
Eric Seidman

08-31

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3

Every Given Sunday: Moving Forward to Rewind
by
John Perrotto

07-29

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0

The Big Picture: Gambling on Umpires
by
David Pinto

07-26

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: Calling the Balls and Strikes
by
Dan Fox

07-02

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0

Watching the Detectives
by
Mike Carminati

06-28

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: Playing Favorites
by
Dan Fox

06-18

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0

Watching the Detectives
by
Mike Carminati

06-04

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0

Watching the Detectives
by
Mike Carminati

05-01

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0

You Could Look It Up: Why Baseball Is Obligated to Throw the Book at Delmon Young
by
Steven Goldman

08-10

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0

Confessions of a Questec Operator
by
Jason Karegeannes

12-17

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0

Prospectus Q&A: Ivan Santucci
by
Nathan Fox

10-07

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0

From The Mailbag: Controversy at Fenway
by
Jason Grady

07-22

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0

Breaking Balls: Making the Most of QuesTec
by
Derek Zumsteg

05-07

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0

Behind the Mask Q&A
by
Jason Grady

05-03

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0

Behind the Mask Q&A
by
Jason Grady

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Google kindly suggests that you search for insults about umpires.

Last night, Bob Davidson screwed up a double switch in the Cardinals-Marlins game, costing the Cardinals Allen Craig for an inning. It was another in a long line of umpire mishaps that will only increase the calls for robot double switchers, though it could've been worse. Davidson admitted that he'd screwed up, and the Cardinals won the game. Dustin Parkes wrote about the incident here. One of the things he wrote was this:

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Things you can do, some can't be done.

I asked an old-timer, someone who was involved in baseball decision-making 50 years ago, about Aug. 29, 2067, the day that came to be known as Red Wednesday. "There were people who tried to warn us. We didn't listen. But it's not like it came out of the blue. We brought that day on ourselves."

***

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June 13, 2012 2:54 pm

Overthinking It: Who Is the Best Umpire?

14

Ben Lindbergh

The difference between the best umpire and the worst is seven correct calls per game. Ben looks for the one who gets those seven right.

While many of the most memorable umpire mistakes have come on force plays, tag plays, and “boundary calls,” the most common kind of blown call, by far, happens behind home plate several times a game. It’s possible to watch a game and forget about the base umpires, as long as none of them makes a glaring error. But it’s impossible to ignore the home plate umpire, who has to making a ruling on every single unstruck pitch. That’s why arguing balls and strikes leads to an automatic ejection—there are simply too many of them to make arguing each one permissible. Moreover, the strike zone is such a core component of baseball that questioning its consistency calls the integrity of the game into question.

Grousing about umpires is as old as the game itself, but the advent of instant replay—and more recently, ball-tracking technology—has made those complaints more numerous and provided conclusive evidence of occasional umpire incompetence. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re ready to do away with umpires, even if Major League Baseball would allow it. Even Mike Fast, a former Baseball Prospectus and current Houston Astros analyst who made his name by studying the data collected by Sportvision’s PITCHf/x system, has acknowledged that some significant technical hurdles would have to be cleared before an automated system could make more accurate calls in real time than human umpires. However, that hasn’t stopped, or even slowed, the steady stream of complaints about officiating coming from couches and clubhouse alike.

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Immortalizing the moment when Mets left fielder Vinny Rottino tried to send a walk-off win to the 13th inning.

Brace yourself for a controversial opinion: umpires have, on occasion, been known to make mistakes. Hey, don't look at me. It's not my ​opinion. But it is Mets left fielder Vinny Rottino's opinion, we can only assume, because he tried to make an umpire err last night.

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Removing the "human element" from the calling of balls and strikes might prevent some blatant mistakes, but it could also have some unintended consequences for observers and players who benefit from certain skills.

Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

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Does the way an umpire positions himself behind home plate affect the boundaries of his strike zone?

We have known for several years that right-handed and left-handed batters do not see the same strike zone in the major leagues. The strike zone for left-handed batters shifts about two inches toward the outside. This observation goes back at least to Dr. John Walsh’s analysis of PITCHf/x strike zone data in 2007.

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When it comes to determining the actual upper and lower boundaries of the zone, pitchers may have more to tell us than the players at the plate.

Three months ago, I investigated the nature of the major-league strike zone, focusing on its inside and outside boundaries. I concluded that the location of a pitch relative to the catcher’s target had a significant impact on the umpire’s likelihood of calling a strike. This article will examine the top and bottom boundaries of the strike zone.

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Some thoughts on the pros and cons of instant replay.

Umpires are terrible, right? 

Well, no, not really. But listen to fans in Boston or Tampa Bay or Anaheim or Minnesota or pretty much any other major league city and they'll tell you they are. Recent blown calls - some minor, some major - in those cities can't help but give the everyday fan that opinion. With 24-hour talk radio, high profile cable shows like Sportscenter, Baseball Tonight, MLB Tonight and others, official team blogs and websites, and a countless number of fan blogs all there to analyze any and every movement on the field, a blown call can reverberate like never before. Umpires can turn into household names - for all the wrong reasons - overnight. It's not an easy job.

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April 22, 2011 9:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Mike Teevan

4

David Laurila

Now that we have a more thorough understanding of the rulebook, we learn more about umpire evaluation, schedules, and post-season umpire selection.

Umpires are a big part of baseball, but outside of someone to shout expletives at, most fans have little idea of who they are and just what goes into their jobs. Mike Teevan, of the MLB Public Relations Department, clarified some of those mysteries, answering 13 questions about the often maligned—but essential—men in blue.

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Examining umpire calling and catcher framing leads to thought-provoking questions about the amorphous nature of the strike zone.

Ever since the PITCHf/x system debuted in the 2006 playoffs, people have been interested in what it says about the strike zone that the umpires call.

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October 22, 2010 11:00 am

Prospectus Perspective: Four Hours of TV, 10 Minutes of Action

24

Steven Goldman

Major League Baseball, for the sake of attracting or keeping fans, needs to pick up the pace of games.

As compelling as the action of some post-season games have been, the slow pace of the contests has revived cries for a sped up game, with Peter Gammons and Buster Olney suggesting, respectively, that trips to the mound by coaches and managers be banned and the imposition of a pitch clock. It is easy to sympathize with such requests. None of us are getting any younger, and baseball is asking a lot of us by demanding that we devote more time to a single game than it would take to watch a David Lean epic (“Doctor Zhivago,” 3: 17; “Lawrence of Arabia,” 3: 36) or undergo any one of numerous intensive surgical procedures. If you went under for kidney transplant surgery (average time: two to three hours) during the first inning of Wednesday’s Rangers-Yankees game in the ALCS, the doctors could have woken you up in time for the seventh.

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October 27, 2009 12:00 am

World Series Prospectus: The Umpires

40

Eric Seidman

The Men in Blue have come under attack, but will the specially selected crew for the Series improve matters any?

In a postseason featuring late-inning heroics and a few coming-out parties for talented players (like Carlos Gonzalez), the actual game play has taken a back seat to shoddy umpiring. Instead of fans marveling at the dominant pitching performances from CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee, they have been left wondering how a play in which two runners were tagged while not standing on the base could only result in one out. Aside from the occasional missed call present throughout the regular season, the umpiring crews have blatantly blown calls in crucial situations that simply cannot be chalked up as "the human element" of the game and subsequently be brushed aside. Even worse, the crews have shown an inability to rectify mistakes made by individual members, and have refused to face the music and admit to their errors.

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