Episode 15 - The Truth About Baseball's Electronic Strike Zone
Why do MLB's umpire accuracy numbers for ball/strike calls look different in private than they do in public? Why are umpires told they are 97% accurate in pitch calling, whereas the public sees a lower figure in the 91%-range? What accounts for this discrepancy, given that the data all come from the same place? We'll speak with Dylan Yep of Umpire Auditor and Boston University Finance Master Lecturer Mark T. Williams to try and figure out why baseball can't keep its numbers straight.
This episode of The Plate Meeting dives into the tangled web that is baseball's foray into strike zone technology. The Truth About Baseball's Electronic Strike Zone is more complex that meets the eye. We trace the origins of electronic balls and strikes to the 20th century and a former US Air Force Lt. Col. who first proposed a simulator for umpire training, and how MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, in his zeal to rein in what he felt were wild oats of the American and National League umpiring staffs, opted for a quick and quantitative rank-based ball/strike system over an accurate depiction of what pitch calling actually entails, and in lieu of an encompassing umpire training program. In our conversation with Yep and Williams, we explore how MLB's technology is deficient for the fabled robot umpire concept that pervades popular culture and how baseball does its umpire a disservice by releasing information that is misleading and flawed.
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