MLB Umpire Bias, Baseball Technology and Reputation Management with Brayden King

Brayden King and Jerry Kim found bias played a role in new research that confirms what baseball fans knew all along: umpires blow calls.

What’s surprising is why umpires miss calls, especially at the plate.

Northwestern University professors King and Kim found bias played a role: that race, the reputation of the pitcher and importance of late-game at-bats influenced how correctly umpires called balls and strikes.

“What our study shows is that umpires are actually systematically favoring certain kinds of pitchers,” says King, an associate professor at the Kellogg School of Management. “So yeah, it would be nice and doable to have a uniform strike zone that would get rid of some of those biases.”

In this installment of “The Big Questions” podcast, we talk with King about bias and the future of technology in baseball. Below is an excerpt of our talk, but the entire conversation can be downloaded via iTunes and SoundCloud or streamed via YouTube. “The Big Questions” is part of the Sun-Times Media Local Podcast Network.

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