Sports Info Solutions has tracked umpire data back to the 2010 season.
We track many things, including tendencies. How often is a pitch thrown to a certain area called a strike and how does that compare to other umpires?
SIS divides credit for called strikes among the catcher, umpire, pitcher, and batter through a process that you can read about here. In doing so, we created two metrics: Extra Strikes Per 150 Called Pitches and Strike Zone Runs Saved, with the latter being calculated to provide a run value based on the raw number of extra strikes called.
This allows us to gauge an umpire’s tendency to call more strikes than expected or fewer strikes than expected. An umpire who calls a lot more strikes than expected has a high Strike Zone Runs Saved total.
In that initial year, the 2010 season, the top two umpires in both Extra Strikes Per 150 Pitches and Strike Zone Runs Saved were Doug Eddings and Bill Miller.
Thirteen years later, the top two umpires in those stats for 2023 are, once again, Eddings and Miller!
In terms of the impact this might have in games, that can vary. A rate of calling strikes more often than your peers doesn’t guarantee more strikeouts, for example.
But it does seem worth noting that pitchers in Miller’s games the last two seasons have had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.8-to-1, highest for any umpire in MLB. The MLB average is 2.7-to-1. The ratio in Eddings’ games in that time is a more modest 2.9-to-1.
Below are heat maps showing Eddings’ strike zone tendencies the last two years (June 30, 2021 to June 29, 2023). Areas in red are those in which Eddings calls strikes more often than his peers. Areas in blue are those in which Eddings calls fewer strikes.
As you can see, other than that strip along the inside corner to lefties, Eddings’ heat map is a sea of red.
Doug Eddings’ Strike-Calling Tendencies
Miller’s strike zone has a similar look
Bill Miller’s Strike Calling Tendencies
Since 2010 Eddings and Miller have both called more than 60,000 pitches each. Their number of Extra Strikes (both in total and per-150 called pitches) and their Strike Zone Runs Saved are well more than any other umpire.
Eddings has 153 Strike Zone Runs Saved in that time. Miller has 152. The next-closest umpire is Phil Cuzzi, with 70 Strike Zone Runs Saved, not even half of Eddings’ or Miller’s total. The differential is also quite large when looking at extra strikes on a per-pitch basis.
Who are the other umpires that call more strikes than their peers? Looking at the last two seasons, seven umpires have at least 10 Strike Zone Runs Saved. They are listed in the chart below.
If you see these umpires working one of your team’s games, expect to see a few more called strikes than you typically would.
Most Strike Zone Runs Saved – Last 2 Seasons
|Strike Zone Runs Saved