Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Umps

The Cheat had a link to MLB's announcement concerning the umpires for the World Series. The roster is Joe West, Derryl Cousins, Jeff Nelson, Angel Hernandez, Gary Cederstrom, and Jerry Lane. The home plate rotation should be as follows:

Game 1: Joe West

Game 2: Jeff Nelson

Game 3: Jerry Layne

Game 4: Derryl Cousins

Game 5: Gary Cederstrom

Game 6: Angel Hernandez

Game 7: Joe West

Here are the statistics on each of the umpires in terms of number of walks and strikeouts per 9 innings, as well as the league average (as weighted by innings):

Joe West3.46.8
Jeff Nelson3.07.0
Jerry Layne3.56.1
Derryl Cousins4.16.4
Gary Cederstrom3.26.2
Angel Hernandez3.26.4
MLB Average3.176.38

As you can see, this crew, except for Jeff Nelson, is relatively hitter-friendly. Derryl Cousins' games have nearly 30% more walks than average, and only Joe West and Jeff Nelson are above average when it comes to ringing hitters up. Mark Buehrle, who does not need much help throwing strikes, pull Nelson in Game 2 and Angel Hernandez in Game 6. Troublingly, Freddy Garcia, with one of the higher walk rates on the White Sox, picks up Cousins in Game 4.

You might ask how this compares to other umpires the Sox have had in the post season? Well, here they are:

John Hirschbeck (ALDS-1)3.06.5
Bill Miller (ALDS-2)2.66.3
Mark Wegner (ALDS-3)3.36.1
Jerry Crawford (ALCS-1)3.06.0
Doug Eddings (ALCS-2) 2.26.6
Ted Barrett (ALCS-3)3.16.1
Ron Kulpa (ALCS-4)3.16.3
Ed Rapuano (ALCS-5)3.16.1
MLB Average3.176.38

In the prior to series, the Sox had just the opposite - pitchers who issued fewer than average walks, including super-low-walk men Doug Eddings and Bill Miller. The only possible exception to that was Mark Wegner, who wound up allowing a bunch of walks in Game 3 of the ALDS (remember Ozzie's tirade from the dugout).

You can draw your own conclusion from these data. However, it is clear to me that the Sox pitchers, who walked only 4 batters in the ALCS, will have a bit more difficulty in the World Series getting their pitches called strikes. And keeping the Angels off base was was on the key weapons of the ALCS; one hopes that subtle things like close calls on 1-1 counts do not make the difference in the series.

You can find the data on the umpires at Baseball Prospectus.

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