September 9, 2017

Umpire Quinn Wolcott Called A Very Poor Game On Saturday Night, Including Making The Wrong Call On All 5 Pitches In One At-Bat

Quinn Wolcott, the home plate umpire in Saturday night's Red Sox/Rays game, had a poor night. As you can see from the graphics below, Wolcott especially had no conception of the lower part of the strike zone. (Actually, when lefties were batting, he wasn't all that clear about the top portion, either.)

At Brooks Baseball, only pitches called by the umpire (i.e., balls and called strikes) are charted.
Pitches marked as belonging to a particular team are designated with different shapes. These teams represent the pitching team, not the batting team. So, a pitch marked "bos-called strike" was thrown by a Boston pitcher. These are from the umpire's perspective ...

Looking at the solid-line strike zone, I count 20 blown calls against LHH and 13 missed calls against RHH. I counted 159 balls and called strikes on my scorecard, so Wolcott was wrong 21% of the time. And because many pitches are very clearly in or out of the strike zone - as we can see above - making the wrong call on one out of every five pitches is pretty bad.

It's obvious to me that where MLB needs to concentrate its efforts regarding getting umpire calls correct as often as possible on the man in blue behind the plate. Bad calls by the home plate umpire have much more of an impact on the outcome of a game than a close call at one of the four bases. A blown call for ball 4 or strike 3 has an immediate impact, but when you consider what happens from an 0-1 count versus a 1-0 count, or the difference between 1-1 and 0-2, I think that's where subtle differences are made. That's where MLB most needs to do something - and it's the area MLB is avoiding as much as possible.

In the sixth inning, Chris Sale threw six pitches to Mallex Smith of the Rays. Smith swung at one of them (and missed). Wolcott blew the call on every single one of the other five pitches:

Pitch #1: Too far inside, but Wolcott calls strike 1 (wrong)
Pitch #2: Even further inside; Smith swings and misses for strike 2
Pitch #3: On the outside black, but Wolcott calls ball 1 (wrong)
Pitch #4: Obviously in the zone, but Wolcott calls ball 2 (wrong)
Pitch #5: In the exact same place as #4, but Wolcott calls ball 3 (wrong)
Pitch #6: A bit inside, but Wolcott calls strike 3 (wrong)

We need robots, and we need them now!


allan said...

Speaking of the human element, look at this "ball".

Woody Kislowski said...

We are way past the time to go to electronic balls and strikes. We have the technology, USE it! I sat watching that game and whether it goes in "my team's" favor or against them, it infuriates me that we have a way to fix this age I'd problem and refuse to. I am an official in another pro sport and I would welcome the opportunity to correct the human error that is unavoidable. FIX this!