Jeff Zimmerman of Fan Graphs crunched the numbers on the umpiring crew assigned to the World Series, using Pitch-F/X data along with strikeout and walk rates to rank the six umpires from most pitcher-friendly to most hitter-friendly:
Hirschbeck, who in addition to being pitcher-friendly is also the crew chief, will be calling balls and strikes in Game 1 and, if the series goes the distance, Game 7 as well.
Zimmerman delved even deeper into the data, breaking out “heat maps” for each umpire’s strike zone for right-handed hitters and left-handed hitters. The whole thing is definitely worth checking out, but I’ll quote this one bit of analysis: “At least none of these umpires are at the extreme ends of the strike zone spectrum. Compared to the previous playoff series … this crew’s strike zone should be one of the more consistent ones.”
Aw, crap. Alex Speier of Boston-based WEEI.com passes along word that Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis is throwing together a charity-backed vote to decide the style of his Opening Day facial hair. The choices are: goatee, mustache, fu manchu or clean shaven.
The $1 to vote benefits underprivileged children in the Boston area, which seems like a great and worthy cause, but it’s times like these when we here at HBT most crave the start of the regular season. We want to write about dingers, man, not mustaches.
Anyway, if you want to take part and help a great charity, head on over to Youkilis’ Hits For Kids website for more information. The Red Sox open their season April 4 against the Yankees.
The umpires took a well-deserved public flogging during the postseason, so much so that rotations were switched up during the World Series. Some called it mere window-dressing at the time, but some significant institutional changes are already underway for the 2010 season.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that Randy Marsh and Charlie Reliford have retired and taken jobs as
supervisors. As a result, former supervisors Marty Springstead, Jim McKean and
Rich Garcia were not retained.
Here’s major league baseball’s executive vice president Rob Manfred:
“Because of early retirement, there were some quality people like Randy
Marsh who became available to us,” Manfred said. “When things go less
than perfectly — as they did in the postseason — you’re going to think
about making changes. And part of it is just the natural turnover in an
organization. It’s no more complicated than that.”
Springstead, according to Crasnick, had been a supervisor since 2000, while Garcia and
McKean started in 2002. Marsh had been a major league umpire since 1981 while Reliford, started in 1989.