May 6, 2023
theScore recently published an article featuring Mark Williams, Master Lecturer of Finance, discussing the improvement of Major League Baseball umpires’ performance.
Williams’ research analyzing ball- and strike-calling accuracy showed that in April 2023, ball-strike accuracy was 7% higher than in April 2022. Williams’ bad call ratio for the month was 6.7%, which measures the percentage of strikes called outside the strike zone and balls called within it. This would set a record, bettering last year’s 7.2% for April, which was also the season’s mark. Taking April’s statistics across the season, it represents an improvement of more than 50% from 2010, when umpires missed 14.3% of calls. According to Williams research, this improvement is all tied to one factor: umpires’ age. He stated,
“MLB is waking up to fans, players, and coaches saying, ‘Home plate umpires get it wrong more than they should.’ “The response has been, ‘We have to bring in tech.’ But I think the best way of solving the problem is hiring better umpires and retiring the older ones sooner.”
A total of ten umpires retired after last season, average age 58, and ranked below-average based on Williams’ data. According to theScore’s analysis of the data, umpires in their 60s incorrectly called 8% of balls and strikes last year. With a 6.6% rate, umpires in their 20s and 30s ranked the highest among the different age cohorts. William stated that he doesn’t want a robot ump future, but just to see humans raise their performance.