Scorecasting

I just finished reading an analytic breakdown of various commonly held sports beliefs. The book is called Scorecasting. It’s by two professors at University of Chicago.

I found the book to be very interesting and challenging. But some of their conclusions don’t really seem to be based on the data that they found. For example, they analyzed over a million called balls and strikes as viewed by the camera system that mlb has in place at the ballparks. They concluded that major league umpires have a high strike zone!

They also reviewed the 2003 Florida Marlins and said that one would be hard pressed to name any all star types on that team (How about Pudge Rodriguez? Former ALL STAR GAME MVP Jeff Conine??.. those were guys who were currently all stars at the time… but they also had… all star and world series mvps Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell; Louis Castillo I believe was a gold glove 2nd baseman… Ugi Urbina. Derick Lee (gold glove)…then in the outfield we had Miguel Cabrera… not a bad list of stars!)

On the other hand, while watching the World Series this year, I found that Scorecasting was right on as far as how the home team’s plate umpires called balls and strikes. Fascinating stuff…
pbpitching

       I have to respectfully disagree that MLB have a "high strike zone". The generally accepted opinion is that above the belt is a ball. This is not true. If you read the above rule its actually somewhere around the middle of thetorso or the bottom of the letters on a jersey. Also in general most fans don't realize that the pitches are called where they cross the front of the plate, not the middle or back.

       If there is any discrepancy in balls and strikes, my opinion is that it comes from the outside pitch. Alot of umpires have adopted calling the game from what is known as the slot position. This is a lower more athletic stance in which the ump is positioned at an slight angle and has a better view of the entire strike zone. Those that don't use "the slot" are more square and it's easier to miss the outside pitch. 

      Why does this matter now and not in eras gone by? Todays pitchers generally throw with alot more movement on the outside and those that don't change wth the game are at a disadvantage, no matter how slight. Because in calling balls and strikes, IT IS about inches.

…see it differently. In their book, they say that according to all the millions of balls that they were able to analyze, that major league umpires have a high strike zone. I think that isn’t true based on what I have seen in comparisons to how balls and strikes were called in the Gibson/Koufax era.

I just wonder how the authors came to this strange conclusion…
pbpitching

 I truly believe that that the general perception is, the top of the strike zone is the belt line. Even watching MLB on TV the strike zone boxes shown generally show the belt line as the top. 

 That being said, most umpires call that general area as the top of the zone. However, above the belt line is still a strike and certain pitches will be called above it as strikes. From what I've noticed it appears that the pitches most often called above the belt are cutters. Please correct me if someone has noticed differently.