Dewan: The most pitcher- and hitter-friendly umpires

From SABR member John Dewan at ACTA Sports on January 16, 2015:

As a quantifiable skill, pitch framing has been garnering a lot of attention in the past few years. While most research on that front has focused on a catcher’s ability to get extra strikes called, at Baseball Info Solutions we have developed a methodology for dividing the credit among the catcher, the pitcher, the batter, and the umpire. We call our system Strike Zone Plus/Minus, and the details of the methodology will be explained in The Fielding Bible—Volume IV coming out this spring.

While a catcher’s receiving skills are obviously very important on borderline pitches, we have found that everyone else involved in the pitch also has a discernible impact on whether that pitch is called a ball or a strike, not least of which is the umpire. He is the one that actually makes the call, and, as one might imagine, each umpire has his own personal tendencies. Some umpires are more likely to give the pitcher the call on questionable pitches, while others are more likely to favor the hitter. With Strike Zone Plus/Minus, we can look at which umpires fall into which category.

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Originally published: January 16, 2015. Last Updated: January 16, 2015.