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2011 Umpire Projections

An umpire is not supposed to have any influence on any game, but many times they do, especially the home plate umpire calling balls and strikes. Even though the strike zone is supposed to uniform across the league, each umpire has their own unique strike zone. I have gone back over the past 3 years and projected how pitcher or hitter friendly each umpire will be for the up coming season.

First, I went back and took the 2007 to 2009 data and looked to see how much to weight each year’s data to project the known 2010 data. I proved common sense and an even 1/3 weighting of each year as the best predictor. Along with the weighting, I also regressed each umpire to the league average. Finally, I took the 2008 to 2010 values and created a projection for how far the umpire’s zone differs from the league average. The complete list is at the end of the article.

Besides the actual values, here is a look at how pitcher-friendly umpire Brian Runge’s and hitter-friendly umpire Jerry Crawford’s strike zones compare using heat maps for both right- and left-handed pitchers.

The image is from the catcher’s and umpire’s perspective, the box being the rule book strike zone and the circle is used just for reference. The scale on the right is the percent, in decimal format, of pitches called strikes. The data is for all pitches from 2008 to 2010.

LHP
Brian Runge


Jerry Crawford

RHP
Brian Runge

Jerry Crawford

Their differences aren’t huge, but if you look at the green zone, the 50-50 line, Runge expands the zone out a bit. So, if during this season you feel an umpire is squeezing your favorite pitcher a bit, look to see if it’s the umpire’s normal tendency to have a small zone. If not, he may just hate your team.

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List of umpires by how much they are pitcher (positive % Difference compared to Mean) or hitter (negative % Difference compared to Mean) friendly.

Columns are as follows:
Name – The name their mother calls them, not “You Dirty Bum” – we try to keep it P.G. around here.
% of Called Strikes in Strike Zone – Percentage of pitches in the rule book strike zone called strikes.
% Difference compared to Mean – % of how much larger the individual umpire’s strike zone is compared to the league average.
Reliability – How much of the umpire’s projection is from their own values. The rest is how much regression is added in. For example David Rackley’s has a reliability of 0.70, so 70% of the projection is based on pitches he called and 30% is the regression amount.

Name % of Called Strikes in Strike Zone % Difference compared to Mean Reliability
Rackley, David 25.9% -6.6% 0.70
Larson, Barry 25.9% -6.5% 0.26
Tumpane, John 27.7% -4.0% 0.66
Crawford, Jerry 27.8% -3.8% 0.96
Bakke, Chris 27.9% -3.7% 0.30
Merry, Jon 28.4% -3.0% 0.54
Loveless, Eric 28.5% -2.8% 0.27
Tiller, Chris 28.7% -2.5% 0.82
Schrieber, Paul 28.8% -2.5% 0.97
Barrett, Lance 28.8% -2.4% 0.31
Hohn, Bill 28.8% -2.4% 0.97
Conroy, Chris 29.1% -1.9% 0.40
Johnson, Adrian 29.2% -1.9% 0.98
Hickox, Ed 29.2% -1.8% 0.96
Campos, Angel 29.6% -1.3% 0.97
Cousins, Derryl 29.6% -1.2% 0.98
Rapuano, Ed 29.6% -1.2% 0.98
McClelland, Tim 29.7% -1.1% 0.98
Davis, Gerry 29.7% -1.1% 0.97
Tschida, Tim 29.8% -1.0% 0.97
Layne, Jerry 29.8% -1.0% 0.97
Danley, Kerwin 29.8% -1.0% 0.96
Marquez, Alfonso 29.8% -1.0% 0.96
Gibson, Greg 29.9% -0.9% 0.97
Barry, Scott 29.9% -0.8% 0.97
Tichenor, Todd 30.0% -0.7% 0.97
Hoye, James 30.0% -0.6% 0.98
Knight, Brian 30.0% -0.6% 0.97
Fletcher, Andy 30.1% -0.6% 0.97
Carapazza, Vic 30.1% -0.5% 0.75
Reyburn, D.J. 30.2% -0.4% 0.93
Fairchild, Chad 30.2% -0.4% 0.97
Wegner, Mark 30.2% -0.3% 0.97
Welke, Tim 30.2% -0.3% 0.97
Iassogna, Dan 30.3% -0.3% 0.97
Uyl, David 30.3% -0.3% 0.96
Muchlinski, Mike 30.3% -0.3% 0.93
Beal, Damien 30.3% -0.3% 0.85
Wendelstedt, Hunter 30.3% -0.2% 0.97
Joyce, Jim 30.3% -0.2% 0.97
Reilly, Mike 30.3% -0.2% 0.96
Dreckman, Bruce 30.4% -0.2% 0.97
Scott, Dale 30.4% -0.2% 0.97
Guccione, Chris 30.4% -0.1% 0.97
Hallion, Tom 30.4% -0.1% 0.97
Bell, Wally 30.4% -0.1% 0.98
Welke, Bill 30.4% -0.1% 0.97
Fagan, Clint 30.4% -0.1% 0.25
Estabrook, Mike 30.4% 0.0% 0.97
Holbrook, Sam 30.5% 0.1% 0.97
Carlson, Mark 30.6% 0.1% 0.96
Winters, Mike 30.6% 0.2% 0.97
Meals, Jerry 30.6% 0.2% 0.98
Foster, Marty 30.7% 0.3% 0.97
DeMuth, Dana 30.7% 0.3% 0.97
Blaser, Cory 30.7% 0.4% 0.51
Everitt, Mike 30.7% 0.4% 0.98
Hudson, Marvin 30.7% 0.4% 0.97
Kellogg, Jeff 30.7% 0.4% 0.97
Cederstrom, Gary 30.7% 0.4% 0.97
Culbreth, Fieldin 30.8% 0.4% 0.98
Kulpa, Ron 30.8% 0.4% 0.97
Robinson, Will 30.8% 0.5% 0.96
Bucknor, CB 30.8% 0.5% 0.98
Barksdale, Lance 30.8% 0.5% 0.97
Porter, Alan 30.8% 0.5% 0.79
Darling, Gary 30.8% 0.5% 0.97
Barrett, Ted 30.9% 0.6% 0.97
Timmons, Tim 30.9% 0.6% 0.97
West, Joe 30.9% 0.6% 0.98
Wolf, Jim 30.9% 0.6% 0.97
Reynolds, Jim 30.9% 0.7% 0.97
Hernandez, Angel 30.9% 0.7% 0.97
Vanover, Larry 31.0% 0.7% 0.92
Nelson, Jeff 31.0% 0.7% 0.97
Gonzalez, Manny 31.0% 0.8% 0.96
Drake, Rob 31.0% 0.8% 0.98
Davidson, Bob 31.1% 0.8% 0.97
Nauert, Paul 31.1% 0.9% 0.97
DiMuro, Mike 31.3% 1.2% 0.97
Diaz, Laz 31.3% 1.2% 0.97
Cuzzi, Phil 31.4% 1.4% 0.97
Bellino, Dan 31.5% 1.4% 0.93
O’Nora, Brian 31.5% 1.4% 0.97
Hirschbeck, John 31.6% 1.7% 0.95
Eddings, Doug 31.7% 1.8% 0.97
Emmel, Paul 31.8% 1.9% 0.97
Randazzo, Tony 32.1% 2.3% 0.96
Gorman, Brian 32.1% 2.3% 0.93
Cooper, Eric 32.1% 2.4% 0.97
Ripperger, Mark 32.2% 2.4% 0.53
Miller, Bill 32.3% 2.6% 0.98
Runge, Brian 32.9% 3.5% 0.89