This is the first in what will be a series of posts on the topic of Major League Baseball’s ‘pace of play’ initiative. The data used to generate these posts comes from publicly accessible Gameday data files at MLB.com. Keep an eye out for posts to come!
I recently came across this 2006 ESPN article that chronicles a week in the life of a major league umpire. To my surprise, the piece mentions MLB’s efforts to police the pace of the game even back in 2006 by gauging umpires and their ability to move the game along (or not). Here’s a relevant extract that discusses an umpire’s “POG stat”:
The POG [pace of game] stat is derived from a formula that includes length of game, number of pitches, pitching changes, runs and innings. “Pace of game is harder to control,” Marsh says. “But if your POG average is consistently high in relation to the other crews, they let you know it.” He asks if any of the other guys saw the previous night’s Yankee game. “Posada went to the mound three times in an inning,” he says. Everyone shakes his head. Not good for that crew’s POG.
“You pull for the other crews to have short games,” Hernandez says. “Not just for their POG stats, but because you know how tired they are. When you’re watching a game and it goes into extra innings, you say a little umpire prayer for it to be done soon.”
Admittedly, I don’t know the POG formula referenced, though that won’t stop me from trying to create one of my own. In the interim, here’s a listing of the umps with the best and worst average game times when they’re behind the plate from 2016. For the purposes of making things somewhat reasonable, I have restricted the table to only those regular season games that ended after 9 innings. I realize this is rather rudimentary and doesn’t take into account a whole host of other factors, but I thought it might be interesting to see any noticeable differences amongst the umpires. In coming weeks, I’ll update with more detail and hopefully provide breakdowns for individual crews. Keep Reading