Umpires of the LDS

The list of umpires scheduled for the LDS has been released. As much as they should not be a factor in the games, several of their decisions will ultimately be scrutinized this postseason. The following is a look at which umpire strike zones are most likely to get notice and affect the game.

I am not going to get into any discussion on if the umpires and their strike zones are good or bad. They are their own individuals. The more I look into the subject, the differences can be some of the 2% that can be exploited to gain an advantage over other teams.

At the beginning of the season, I rated which of the umpires are the most hitter and pitcher friendly. Here is a look at each umpire, their rating and what series and game, for now, they are to umpire. I know there are only five games, but I included the last umpire in case there are any changes. The umpires at the top of the list are more hitter friendly and those at the bottom are more pitcher friendly:

Name % of Called Strikes in Strike Zone % Difference compared to Mean Series Game
Rackley, David 25.9% -6.6% NA NA
Davis, Gerry 29.7% -1.1% Tigers – Yankees 1
Marquez, Alfonso 29.8% -1.0% Brewers – D-Backs 2
Layne, Jerry 29.8% -1.0% Phillies – Cards 1
Danley, Kerwin 29.8% -1.0% Rangers – Rays 3
Gibson, Greg 29.9% -0.9% Rangers – Rays 4
Hoye, James 30.0% -0.6% Brewers – D-Backs 6
Fairchild, Chad 30.2% -0.4% Phillies – Cards 6
Welke, Tim 30.2% -0.3% Tigers – Yankees 6
Iassogna, Dan 30.3% -0.3% Tigers – Yankees 4
Dreckman, Bruce 30.4% -0.2% Brewers – D-Backs 4
Guccione, Chris 30.4% -0.1% Phillies – Cards 2
Scott, Dale 30.4% -0.2% Rangers – Rays 1
Meals, Jerry 30.6% 0.2% Phillies – Cards 3
Carlson, Mark 30.6% 0.1% Rangers – Rays 2
Kellogg, Jeff 30.7% 0.4% Brewers – D-Backs 5
Cederstrom, Gary 30.7% 0.4% Phillies – Cards 5
Hudson, Marvin 30.7% 0.4% Rangers – Rays 6
Kulpa, Ron 30.8% 0.4% Brewers – D-Backs 2
West, Joe 30.9% 0.6% Brewers – D-Backs 1
Hernandez, Angel 30.9% 0.7% Phillies – Cards 4
Barrett, Ted 30.9% 0.6% Tigers – Yankees 5
Gorman, Brian 32.1% 2.3% Rangers – Rays 5
Randazzo, Tony 32.1% 2.3% Tigers – Yankees 2
Cooper, Eric 32.1% 2.4% Tigers – Yankees 3
Runge, Brian 32.9% 3.5% NA NA

The main item that jumps for me is that the Yankees and Tigers start with the umpire with the smallest strike zone (Gerry Davis) and then move to the two umpires with the largest strike zones (Tony Randazzo and Eric Cooper). Here is a visual look at Gerry Davis’ and Tony Randazzo’s strike zones, in comparison to league average and then compared to each other for right-handed hitters.

Note: The strike zone is from the catcher/umpire’s perspective. The square is the rule book strike zone and the circle is added for visual reference. The scale is the percent that the umpire calls a pitch a strike in that part of the strike zone. If the umpire is being compared to the league average or another umpire, the values are the difference in percentage points. The zone is adjusted according to the player’s height.

Gerry Davis

Tony Randazzo

When looking at them this way, some difference can be seen, but it is very hard to detect. To see where they differ from the rest of the league, here is a comp between them and the league average:

Gerry Davis

Tony Randazzo

Randazzo will definitely call more strikes inside. Davis shrinks his zone quite a bit horizontally, but then stretches it vertically. Now, here is Randazzo’s values subtracted from Davis’ values:

Again, it can be seen that Davis is less likely to call the inside strike compared to Randazzo

That was a look at just a couple of umpires. You can get the information on any umpire by doing the following:

Goto Name: fangraphs pw:Dave
Navigate to: Umpire Called Balls and Strikes Heat Map.
Select the umpire and requirement to get the information you desire.

Hopefully the umpires are non factors this postseason. Probably not, though. Now you will have a little information on the nature of the umpire (pitcher or hitter friendly) and the shape of their unique strike zones.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Carson Cistullimember
10 years ago

It’s hard to believe that every last one of these umpires is Mormon.

Bob Loblaw
10 years ago

Dangit – Cistulli beat me to it.

10 years ago

Awesome I was going to go with a Utah joke

Adam D
10 years ago

Damn… I thought this was going to be a nudie spread with Kerwin Danley. I had just seen Girls of the SEC not too long ago… oh wait… probably shouldn’t say that out loud.

10 years ago

It took me a minute before I got it, then it took me three minutes to stop laughing enough to be able to post.

Doesn’t MLB have a rating system to assure that the best umps do the playoffs, or is the Fraternal Brotherhood of Vision-Impared Egoists really that strong a union?

Jeff Sikowitz
10 years ago

Oh man… I don’t get it.

10 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Sikowitz

LDS, aside from referring to the League Division Series, is also used as an abbreviation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS = Latter-day Saints). Members of this church are commonly referred to as “Mormons” because of their belief in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.