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Is your team getting hosed by the umpires?

You’re sure the answer is yes, aren’t you ?

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Thanks to Baseball Savant Search Page we can look up some pretty cool stuff. The data for this article was pulled Saturday afternoon, and the article is published Sunday morning so a day out of date. We are dealing with small sample sizes, but I thought it was still worth presenting what I found while down the rabbit hole today.

What I was looking at is how many bad balls and strike calls have been made, and which team’s are benefitting the most from them. At the above linked page you can find the Gameday Zone Dropdown. If you click on that drop down, you can then select in zone or out of zone. Then you go to Pitch result dropdown, and select what you’re looking this case either called strike or ball. Then you use the other drop downs to select player type, (pitcher or hitter) and in this case team, and the year, 2020. The reports that are generated can be downloaded into spreadsheet form.

So what I was looking at were how many balls outside the zone were called strikes for pitchers by team, and against hitters by team. From that I generated a plus/minus. The other side of the coin is how many pitches inside the zone were called balls, and again I generated a plus minus. Then I simply added the two together and ranked by the total % of bad calls that went a teams way. I show the raw counts too, but because teams have played a disparate number of games that can be misleading. Before you scroll down to the results see some caveats:

1.) Gameday Zones are not perfect. They are not a perfect representation of the strike zone, as that depends in part on the height and stance of the hitter.

2.) Where pitches end up on the zone chart can have some error bars too. But over a larger sample, these issues do tend to even out.

3.) WHEN in the at bat, or when in the game a bad call happen can have a big influence on an individual at bat or game. Leveraging this would could produce some interesting results, but again, over a large enough sample, that should even out.

4.) It’s early in the 2020 season, the sample size is not large at all, so these results could change a lot.




For 2018-19 combined those numbers are 2.7% and 1.9% respectively. Total 4.6% “Bad Calls” is pretty close.

Yes folks, your eyes do not deceive you. Our Diamondbacks have actually been the second biggest recipient of the advantage of bad calls so far in this young and truncated season. Along with the Indians, Dodgers Brewers, and Angels we’ve actually got nothing whatsoever to complain about. This is actually quite troubling to see, as it’s one less excuse we have for the under performance of our team. Can’t blame the umpires.

The Rangers, Rays, Royals and Padres have gotten most hosed so far. Their fans, players and coaches have a legit gripe.