Stop calling strikes, I wanna go home!

Continuing my look at how different variable affect how umpires call pitches, today let’s talk about what happens in each inning.

We’ll start with a table:

Inning Runs / 150 Pitches
1 .10
2 .01
3 -.05
4 .03
5 -.03
6 -.08
7 .02
8 -.04
9 .06
10+ -.18

Remember that positive numbers are good for the pitchers (fewer runs), while negatives indicate more scoring.  The innings that jump out are the first, sixth and extras.  I have no idea what to attribute the sixth inning to (perhaps starters are tiring and getting more wild in general – which contributes to umpires being less lenient).  I also don’t really know why umpires help the starters so much in the first – but I’m guessing it has something to do with an unconscious desire to give the pitcher the benefit of the doubt at first, or to start the game off fast.

But I think I understand why the extras (and understand the sample size for all the extra innings combined is about 1/9 of any other inning) are so favorable to the batters.  Without someone scoring, the game can’t end.  If the game doesn’t end, I can’t go home.  I’m sure there’s no conscious reason why the umpires would behave this way, but I’m not sure I’d blame them if there was.  After 3.5 hours of calling pitches, I’d probably want to do everything in my power just to be allowed to sit down.

I’m still working on putting together a longer article combining all this information together.  Unfortunately some of the analysis is taking longer than I was hoping.  Look for it early next week, though.

3 Comments »

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  1. Haha,
    You don’t seem to think it has anything to do with batters learning pitchers before they’re pulled, or perhaps pitchers getting tired?

    Perhaps the crackerjacks during the 7th inning stretch really help pitchers out? (caramel ball anyone?).

    Maybe that last minute heroism of the batters (8th inning) or the closers (9th)?

    You know I’m not a stats guy so I’m sure those probably got aggregated out… per 150 pitches though… how many is typical in an inning?

    Comment by Jay — April 17, 2008 #

  2. Remember, this is just “mis-called” pitches. In other words – pitches that within the empirically defined strike zone that are called balls, or those outside the zone that are called strikes.

    Since the zone is by no means hard and fast, you expect umpires to make calls that appear to be wrong. I’m not considering the calls wrong, but I would expect them to average out if they were just random chance.

    And since we’re only looking at called pitches, and variation from the expected zone, the ultimate decision maker on that is the umpire. I’m just trying to look at what might influence that decision.

    150 called pitches is roughly one game (actually slightly more), so that’s 16 per inning – so the difference is slight in terms of effect per game (.02 runs per inning), but there does appear to be a slight bias towards the batter (and therefore ending the game) in extra innings.

    Comment by Dan Turkenkopf — April 18, 2008 #

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