Study shows white favoritism by major league umpires
A study by Johan Sulaeman, an assistant professor of finance in SMU's Cox School of Business, minority pitchers scale back their performance to overcome racial/ethnic favoritism toward whites by MLB home plate umpires.
When it comes to Major League Baseball's pitchers, the more strikes, the better. But what if white umpires call strikes more often for white pitchers than for minority pitchers?
New research findings provide an answer. Analysis of 3.5 million pitches from 2004 to 2008 found that minority pitchers scale back their performance to overcome racial/ethnic favoritism toward whites by MLB home plate umpires, said economist Johan Sulaeman, a financial economist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and a study author.
The study found that minority pitchers reacted to umpire bias by playing it safe with the pitches they throw in a way that actually harmed their performance and statistics, said Sulaeman, a labor and discrimination expert.
Specifically, minority pitchers limited the umpires' discretion to call their pitch a "ball" by throwing squarely across the plate in the strike zone more often. Unfortunately for the pitcher, such throws are also easier for batters to hit.
- Read more about the study at SMU's Research Blog.
- Read the study.
- Hear Professor Johan Sulaeman's interview (mp3) on September 15 with David Sirota of Colorado's AM 760 Progressive Talk Radio.
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