Analyzing the Umpires: ALCS Edition

After examining the National League Championship Series umpires yesterday, I will look at the American League Championship Series umpires today. Even though the ALCS umpire crew is led by fan “favorite” Joe West, they are generally neutral in their strike calling.

For each umpire, I have include their 3-year average K%, BB% and Zone% for both left-handed and right-handed hitters. To get the Zone%, I looked at the number of called strikes and balls in the league average called strike zone. The strike zone used is the same one that is used for FanGraphs hitter and pitcher Pitchf/x Zone% values.

Also, I have created a 100 scale which shows how much more or less an umpire’s values are compared to the league average. A value over 100 is always pitcher friendly (a lower BB% means a higher value).

Additionally, I have included a heat map of the umpire’s called strike zone compared to the league average zone. It subtracts the percentage of called strikes divided by the total of the called balls and strikes of the umpire from the league average. For example, if the umpire called a pitch in the zone a strike 40% of the time and if the league average is 50%, the output would be -10% (40%-50%) or 0.10.

Joe West — West is hitter friendly because he doesn’t call the high, outside strike.

LHH: 3-year
K%: 24.0% (98)
BB%: 12.1% (97)
Zone%: 50.1% (99)

RHH: 3-year
K%: 23.4% (95)
BB%: 11.8% (88)
Zone%: 79.7% (99)

LHH

RHH

Dale Scott — Scott is hitter friendly because he doesn’t call the high strike, but he sort of helps pitchers by calling the low, outside strike.

LHH: 3-year
K%: 22.2% (91)
BB%: 14.7% (79)
Zone%: 49.4% (98)

RHH: 3-year
K%: 24.4% (99)
BB%: 12.0% (87)
Zone%: 79.2% (99)

LHH

RHH

Rob Drake — He favors hitters a bit, but he is basically neutral.

LHH: 3-year
K%: 24.0% (99)
BB%: 11.1% (105)
Zone%: 50.0% (99)

RHH: 3-year
K%: 24.0% (98)
BB%: 10.9% (96)
Zone%: 78.5% (98)

LHH

RHH

Dan Iassogna — A pitchers dream. An expanded strike zone everywhere except with the low, inside strike to left-handed hitters.

LHH: 3-year
K%: 27.4% (112)
BB%: 11.4% (102)
Zone%: 51.2% (101)

RHH: 3-year
K%: 25.5% (104)
BB%: 10.2% (103)
Zone%: 80.9% (101)

LHH

RHH

Ron Kulpa — He calls a huge strike zone, especially with right-handed hitters at the plate.

LHH: 3-year
K%: 23.8% (98)
BB%: 11.9% (98)
Zone%: 52.7% (104)

RHH: 3-year
K%: 26.5% (108)
BB%: 9.7% (108)
Zone%: 83.2% (103)

LHH

RHH

Alfonso Marquez — He one the friendliest umpires to left-handed hitters, and does not like to call the high, outside strike. With right-handed hitters he is neutral.

LHH: 3-year
K%: 23.5% (96)
BB%: 13.1% (89)
Zone%: 47.6% (94)

RHH: 3-year
K%: 24.1% (98)
BB%: 9.7% (108)
Zone%: 81.3% (101)

LHH

RHH

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

Member
aussie_tragic
2 years 7 months ago

Alfonso Marquez’ LHH graph looks like a Picasso self-portrait painted whilst under the influence of LSD.

Guest
Justin Bailey
2 years 7 months ago

More like a Ringo Starr self-portrait while under the influence of LSD.