Monday, May 7, 2018

Analysis - Catching Up With Todd Frazier 5 Days Later

It's been five days since Mets 3B Todd Frazier criticized major league umpires by stating, "they’ve got to get better," adding his belief that an umpire who misses a ball or strike call isn't being held accountable: "We’ve got to hit, too, as well, but we don’t want to be put in a hole every day of the week." Frazier specifically referenced the past "five or six games" as the period of greatest aggravation.

Returning a report on Frazier v MLB Umps.
In response, Close Call Sports convened an analysis of the aforementioned six games immediately preceding Frazier's complaint—Thursday, April 26 through Wednesday, May 2. Our analysis found that although Frazier was the recipient of two incorrect called strikes during Wednesday, May 2nd's game (immediately after which Frazier made his "they've got to get better" post-game comments), umpires were just two pitches short of perfection in the five games prior. Furthermore, none of the four total misses over the six-game span resulted in a strikeout, while one missed call actually saved Frazier from striking out.

In sum, umpires were 93.8% (61/65) over the five-game period, or 95.3% (61/64) if one were to throw out the missed ball call that kept Frazier's plate appearance going on Thursday, April 26.
Related PostTodd Frazier - "These Umpires Have Got to Get Better" (5/3/18).

These numbers suggest a struggling hitter.
The purpose of this follow-up report is simple: to check how Frazier has fared over the five days since his complaint, and to see if the umpires have changed how they officiate his strike zone at all over that same span—or at the least, see if their cumulative accuracy has changed.

Frazier's Performance: Frazier did not play during the Mets' 11-0 loss to Atlanta on Thursday, May 3, but did appear in each of the team's ensuing four games.

On Friday, Frazier was 2-5 (Mets L to Colorado, 8-7).
On Saturday, Frazier went 0-3 (BB, SO) (Mets L, 2-0).
On Sunday, Frazier similarly finished 0-3 (SO) (Mets L 3-2).
On Monday, Frazier was 0-5 (2 SO) (NYM W 7-6 over CIN).

This amounts to a 2-for-16 showing, or .125 batting average, over these four games.

Umpires' Performance: Umpires missed no more than one pitch per day to Frazier over these four games.

On Friday, Bruce Dreckman went 11-for-12 (92%) during Frazier's five at-bats. The miss? A ball in the zone.
On Saturday, Mike Estabrook was 8-for-9 (89%). The miss? Also a ball in the strike zone.
On Sunday, Eric Cooper went 9-for-10 (90%) to Frazier. He called a first-pitch strike out of the zone.
On Monday, Ron Kulpa called Frazier's hitless day at a 15-for-15 (100%) accuracy level.

Adding it up, umpires were 43-for-46 (93.5%), with two extra balls and one extra strike called. Throwing out the two balls, which Frazier as an offensive player would not have a gripe with, umpires were 43-for-44, or 97.7% efficient at not calling pitches thrown out of the strike zone as strikes (2.3% error rate).

Comparing the numbers pre-gripe to post-gripe, umpires remained strikingly consistent. There is no realistic nor statistically significant difference between the two datasets, other than an extra erroneous ball and two fewer erroneous strikes.

Gil's Call: Frazier is frustrated, not at any person or group of people in particular, but in general. He was hitting .250 during the five-game period of complaint he referred to post-game on May 2. He's hitting .125 since. In The Blame Game (Umpire Scapegoating) (8/8/14), I wrote the following passage which I feel applies to Frazier's situation:
When the subject says, “I don’t trust umpires' judgment,” the subject really means, “I don’t trust my own judgment.” Accordingly, "I don't trust [class of people]" becomes "I don't trust myself." We mask with projection because of a conditioned response to preserve our sense of self and internalized paradigm, even when our paradigm is inherently inaccurate, outdated or harmful.
In a similar vein, when Frazier said in his comments, "It’s been going on for years. But for me, this year specifically, it’s been going on a lot more," he wound up illustrating another one of my 2014 observations:
Yet sometimes, players or fans may be blinded by their team loyalty and thirst for winning to such a degree that they might decry a "this umpire hates us," or even more extreme, "the league is conspiring against us" mentality, such that every perceived slight from the point this thought first enters the subject's mind serves only as confirmation that, yeah, there must be a conspiracy against one's chosen team.
The problem portrayed above is the same one umpires are told never to bring up with an angry coach or player for fear of further stirring the pot: Frazier's last few weeks are in disarray; his offensive performance is substandard, and he requires a scapegoat. Until Frazier can get his own house in order,  blaming the umpires won't help.

Would it be preferable for umpires to achieve 100% accuracy? Absolutely. Yet the numbers consistently tell us: ball/strike misses from umpires are much preferable to the real-time StatCast technology prone to a variety of error that brings the humans' error rate to a level that is lower than the real-time computer's error rate. For that reason (amongst many others), the robots will have to wait.

In fact, by scapegoating a neutral third party, Frazier's performance might suffer even more if he plays the blame game rather than work to improve his own offensive output.


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