1997 Umpire Ratings
In a perfect world you expect that the umpire calling balls and strikes would have no impact on the outcome of a ballgame. But all you had to do was watch Eric Gregg's effort behind the plate in last year's NLCS to be disabused of that notion. The fact is there are umpires who are known to be "pitchers umps" and others who are "hitters umps".
Last year, I was curious to see how much variation in fact exists between the men in blue when they work behind the plate. This is not a conclusive analysis, because the Full Count ratings are devoted only to starters. But it should be good enough to get some insights. The tables below provide the average ratings achieved by all starters working while each ump was behind the plate.
Keep in mind that 50 represents average, so umpires with ratings over 50 were more favorable to starters in 1997; umps with ratings below 50 were better for hitters. It's perhaps interesting to see that Gregg was not worst pitchers ump in the NL! In fact, he was pretty close to average. You're free to draw your own conclusions from that.
These ratings generally range from 55 to 45. Bobby Jones and Chuck Finley were pitchers who averaged a 55 rating in 1997. Matt Beech and Ariel Prieto averaged 45. It's sobering to think that the man behind the plate can have that great an effect on what your starter might do to your ERA and Ratio on a given day.
The second column of data I have provided is the percentage of all pitches that were strikes while each individual umpire was behind the plate. At first I thought the numbers would be higher for pitchers' umps, but that was not the case. I think the takeaway is that how many pitches get called strikes is less important than where the pitches are that the ump says are strikes.