Wednesday, November 20, 2013

AFL Pitch F/X: Framing/Umpiring

Continuing the look at Pitch F/X data in the Arizona Fall League, I wanted to take a quick glance at one of the most popular subjects in Pitch F/X over the last two or three years, "framing". More specifically, I will look at the strike zone in the AFL, how pitches were called balls and strikes, and give the names of umpires and catchers on some of the more notable calls (I will not have a "framing leaderboard").

First, the following graph shows all the pitches that were called balls in the AFL games tracked by Pitch F/X. I excluded "Ball in the Dirt" tagged pitches because I assumed that they were easily called balls, though you will notice that some of these pitches still didn't make it to the plate.

There is one pitch that really stands out to me on that graph as far as being close to the middle and still called a ball. It was thrown by Will Lamb, a 2nd round pick in 2011 by the Rangers, and was received by Michael Ohlman of the Orioles' organization, who had a big offensive year, but spent most of the year as a DH. The home plate umpire was Jeff Morrow, who will be talked about later. To get a closer look at the pitches called balls, here are the pitches that were called balls in the traditional/simple strike zone:

A couple others stand out here. One was thrown by Mike Nesseth, a Phillies minor leaguer with low walk/strikeout rates, caught by Jake Lowery (Indians, a few 1st base and DH games), and called by Stu Scheurwater, a veteran minor league umpire whom I believe is in AA. Another was thrown by Brewers prospect Taylor Jungmann, caught by Adam Weisenburger, also of the Brewers, and called by Seth Buckminster.

By contrast, here are the pitches that were called strikes in the Pitch F/X games in the AFL:

We see typical lefty strike syndrome here, but I wanted to look at the pitches furthest from the strike zone on each corner, that is, the highest pitch called a strike, the pitch furthest to the left called a strike, etc.

The furthest one to right side of the zone (catcher's perspective), isn't that bad, thrown by Bo Schultz, caught by Dustin Garneau, and called by Marcus Pattillo:

Schultz is a 28 year old Diamondback minor leaguer who pitched in AA and AAA in 2013. While he showed some strikeout potential, he walked too many batters, especially for an older pitcher.

Garneau is a 26 year old that has reached AA for the Rockies. He hasn't been notable (either bad or good) with the bat, and despite a good CS %, seems to have a lot of passed balls. 2013 was the first year that he played anything other than catcher, playing 13 games at DH and 2 at first base.

Pattillo is a AA umpire in the Southern League, and umpired in the Venezuelan Winter League last season.

The furthest to the left is further outside, thrown by Noe Ramirez, caught by Jorge Alfaro, and called by Jeff Morrow:

Ramirez is a 23 year old Red Sox prospect that had good strikeout to walk rates in A+ and AA in 2013.

Alfaro is a 20 year old that is considered by some to be a top 100 prospect in baseball. The Rangers' affiliate has reached A+ and has been okay with the bat. 2013 contained a lot of passed balls and he played some first base and DH.

Morrow is a AAA umpire in the Pacific Coast League.

The highest pitch called a strike was thrown by Omar Duran, caught by Adrian Nieto, and called by Gabe Morales:

Duran is a 23 year old Athletics minor leaguer that spent most of the year in A+. While he struck out a lot of batters, he was also very wild.

Nieto is a 24 year old Nationals prospect that played all of 2013 in A+. He played 24 games at DH this season, but has yet to show any power.

Morales is a AAA umpire in the International League

The lowest pitch called for a strike was thrown by Anthony Ferrera, caught by Derrick Chung, and called by Seth Buckminister

Ferrera struggled with walks in 2013 with the Cardinals' AA affiliate.

Chung is a 25 year old with the Blue Jays that played in A+ in 2013. He has struggled with the bat and has played all over the diamond, including 22 games at 2nd base.

Buckminister is a AAA umpire in the International League. He umpired some spring training games in 2013 and famously broke his hand in one of the games.

I mentioned Jeff Morrow the umpire above in two separate games, so I thought it would be interesting to look at the two games as a whole and see how he did overall, and whether he has a quirky strikezone, or if his missed calls were just missed.

First, let's look at his October 11th games, starting with the called balls.

Other than the obvious one, it seems that there are pitches on every corner that could have been called strikes that Morrow elected to call balls. 

Here are his called strikes from that game:

You will notice, that is just the strike zone, nothing was called a strike that was out of the strike zone. So perhaps he just has a small zone. However, he did call that Ramirez pitch that was way out of the zone a strike on the 28th. To get more data, let's look at his game on the 28th, starting with the pitches he called a ball:

Here, it isn't every corner like the last game, but there appear to be at least 5 pitches on the right side of the strike zone that should have probably been called strikes, assuming that they were measured correctly by Pitch F/X.

Here are his called strikes:

Here, we see that his zone is small when it comes to top to bottom and even to the right, but he gave up a lot of the edge in what is normally the lefty strike zone, something he didn't do on the 11th.

Overall, I think Morrow seemed to fit in the general mold of the AFL home plate umpiring. He would give pitchers some room on the left, but for the most part, was more likely to call a pitch in the zone a ball than call a pitch outside of the zone a strike. This small zone may be why their were 4.17 walks per every 9 innings in the AFL, over half a walk per 9 innings over both AAA leagues in 2013.

1 comment:

  1. Do you know how to get accuracy data on MLB umpires? I.e., which umps call the most extra balls vs. strikes.