If I told you the Detroit Tigers have had the worst luck with umpires in the entire American League this season, would you be surprised? I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t. The Tigers have been incredibly unlucky in that respect this season — almost legendarily so. It’s something all of us can agree on: Whether you’re on #TeamBuy, #TeamSell, #TeamFireAusmus, or another side of the aisle entirely, we can all agree that umpires seem to be biased against Detroit. Only now we have proof.
Not proof that umps are biased against the Tigers exactly, but proof the Tigers have truly had as much bad luck as we thought. Twitter user @flippingbats tweeted a chart quantifying each major league team’s luck in regards to umpire calls. Teams with the best luck are towards the top, while teams with the worst luck are towards the bottom. American League teams are in red and National League teams are in blue. Here’s the chart:
There are quite a few interesting things about this chart.
The Tigers are 28th of the 30 MLB teams, and worst in the American League
This isn’t all that surprising, considering just how many bad calls Detroit has been on the receiving end of. For example, here are two poor calls against the Tigers from the past week.
Clearly, the Tigers have had unusually bad luck. Still, it’s a tad shocking the team has indeed had as much bad luck as we thought, or even more.
Teams with catchers better at pitch framing have better “luck.”
Statcorner.com has a pitch framing statistic that orders catchers from best at pitch framing to worst. Among the best are Yasmani Grandal (Los Angeles Dodgers), Christian Vasquez (Boston Red Sox) and Brian McCann (Houston Astros). The fact their teams are all considerably above average on the umpire luck chart is probably not a coincidence. Cameron Rupp (Philadelphia Phillies), J.T. Realmuto (Miami Marlins), James McCann (Tigers), and Salvador Perez (Kansas City Royals) are the four worst catchers at framing and, unsurprisingly, each of their teams are well below average on the luck chart. Maybe it’s more than just luck after all?
American League teams have had somewhat better luck than National League teams
The American League had nine teams above zero and only six below The six AL teams below zero are the Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, and the Tigers. Coming into play Tuesday, the only team of the six with a win-loss record above .500 is the Twins, who hold first place in the AL Central division. They’re the only team on that list to hold a place above third in any AL division, as well.
The National League has teams on both extreme ends of the spectrum
Four of the top five teams and three of the bottom five are NL teams. The top teams are the Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, and San Diego Padres. The bottom teams are the Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds. This is quite odd because the Pirates and Padres, who have had some of the best umpire luck, are in last place in the NL Central and West divisions respectively, and the Diamondbacks, who have had some of the worst umpire luck, are nine games over .500. Why is that? I have no idea. It could just be outliers proving that you can’t read too much into data.
Overall, the chart is interesting
Even if there’s no real reason for any of this, it is a bit reassuring knowing that we’re not all crazy — the Tigers truly have had some of the worst umpire luck in baseball. Unfortunately, there’s nothing the team can do to fix it.