Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Podcast - Truth About Baseball's Electronic Strike Zone

Why are umpires privately told they are 97%+ accurate behind home plate while, publicly, MLB exposes fans to data indicating significantly lower scores? This Plate Meeting Podcast discusses the mythical electronic strike zone-as-HP Umpire concept, its pitfalls, and why the technology isn't sufficient, and how umpires are subjected to unnecessary abuse because of a system that doesn't like to admit that—in MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's own words—"that technology has a larger margin of error than we see with human umpires."

We begin with an overview—with supporting video if you so choose to view our visual aid (it's helpful)—of the history of pitch analysis technology in professional baseball, a politicized MLB seeking to gain more power over its umpires at the expense of investing in an early ball/strike technological model, and how MLB's chosen system has developed through QuesTec to Pitch f/x to TrackMan and StatCast to this point.

Click the below play (▶) button to listen to "Episode 15 - The Truth About Baseball's Electronic Strike Zone" or visit the show online at The Plate Meeting is also available on iTunes (Apple Podcasts), Google, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, and several other podcast apps.

Alternate Link: Episode 15 - The Truth About Baseball's Electronic Strike Zone.

We discuss the benefits and common misconceptions and errors of Brooks Baseball, and why most people are using it incorrectly—how Brooks assumes every player of every height has the exact same strike zone, and how the plots assume each baseball is a singular coordinate (rather than a sphere with a nearly-three-inch diameter).

Batter height plays a key role in strike zones.
We interview Dylan Yep of Umpire Auditor, whose stated purpose for his flagship "Worst Call of the Day" is to provoke and bring about robot umpires, despite admitting that the technology is flawed and that Umpire Auditor itself from its birth until very recently, like Brooks, failed to account for the fact that a baseball is not just a singular point in his px, pz, sz_bot, and sz_top collection.

We interview Mark T. Williams of Boston University's Questrom School of Business, who applied his decades of analysis experience in Finance to run MLB's public-facing numbers to find out exactly how accurate the league tells the public its umpires are, pursuant to MLB-owned Baseball Savant's Gameday Zone variable.

We talk with Mark about the discrepancy between the league's private and public figures, and try and figure out how transparent (or not) baseball really is about this subject.

We conclude with an recap of a discussion that has shown how problematic data is for a system that, per the league's own admission, isn't as accurate as its umpires and try to reconcile this league-admitted problem with the fact that the public at large is using this flawed system to evaluate umpires...all while the umpires themselves are privy to private numbers that show how well they are performing at the their jobs...numbers that generally will never see the public light of day.

Additional Links, Videos, and Other Media:

The Plate Meeting is brought to you by OSIP, where Outstanding Sportsmanship IParamount.

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Related Video: Video of our opening segment for this episode of The Plate Meeting.
Related LinkTwitter Account for Dylan Yep's Umpire Auditor.
Related Link: MLB Umpire Study by Boston University Master Lecturer Mark T. Williams.
Related LinkQuestrom School of Business/Finance Faculty Page for Mark T. Williams.

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