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Diamondbacks UmpireWatch 2021: Week 3

A short week with two off-days, but still some... interesting performances.

Oakland Athletics v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

If this is your first time reading this series, and have no clue what it’s about, you should probably go back and read the first installment. It explains what we’re doing here, where the data comes from and what it means. All I will add here, is your regular exhortation to go and follow @UmpScorecards on Twitter, without whom this article would not be possible. We cover the period from April 14-21 in this edition, which would be the four game series versus the Nationals, and the two games today against the Reds (which is why this is a day later than usual!). It was a re-union of sorts, with the same crew following the D-backs from Arizona to Washington, having worked at Chase Field against the Reds and A’s.

All three of the worst calls came in the same half-inning, the top of the second and benefited Patrick Corbin. You can see them below, though compared to the strikezone shown on television, they don’t appear particularly woeful. I’m not certain exactly how the TV strikezone is constructed, and how that compares to the @UmpScorecards zone. We do tend to take the box shown as gospel, which is perhaps not necessarily the case. Food for thought.

Definitely the worst performance of the series, and considerably worse than Larry Vanover’s performance at Chase, where he scored a 92% for accuracy. It looks like a large zone, especially on the edges, but the number of green dots inside the line shows that he wasn’t particularly consistent in calling it. A game like this, scoreless until it was decided on a home-run in the ninth, demands the highest level of officiating. Unfortunately, we didn’t appear to get it from Vanover.

David Rackley improved his accuracy from the game n Arizona, going up from 89% to 92% - though that’s still below average (94%). He seemed to call a generally accurate zone at the top, but it broadened out towards the bottom - it is similar to what we saw him do at Chase Field. Also as there, his calls significantly hurt the Diamondbacks, though by rather less than the 1.78 runs against Oakland.

Indeed, if there was a pattern here, it was seeing all the umpires in Washington skew significantly towards the home team. Over the four games, this totaled more than four runs (4.08) of calls that went against the Diamondbacks, with even the least “biased” Vanover sitting at -0.74. Hoye was the worst offender at 1.33 runs - despite being the most “accurate” overall, at 94%. It probably helps that both his worst calls were strike threes, including one which ended the game to Ahmed.

There doesn’t seem to have been a card posted for the suspended game; suspect it fell through the cracks. Got an email into the creators about that. If it shows up, will update. But last night’s game was the best called of the week, Jeremy Riggs rating 95% for accuracy - and considering that was close to two hundred calls in a game that went extras, it’s all the more impressive. Also very consistent, with only 3 of 129 balls inside Riggs’ strikezone.

However, in line with everyone else this week, the blown calls skewed against Arizona. The total for the week was 4.75 runs, which wiped out the near-neutrality of the first two weeks. Through the first 18 games, the umpires have favored the D-backs’ opponents by 3.97 runs (pending the stats for the suspended/carry-over game).