The f/x chart above shows balls and strikes on Berkman’s at bat in the seventh. The chart shows the view of the strike zone from the catcher’s point of view, so pitches on the left side of the chart are outside pitches to a lefty like Berkman, and pitches on the right side are inside pitches. Pitch 4 is circled above. It was called a ball. Obviously, pitch 4 was a strike (not exactly “down the middle”, Andrew Marchand, but a strike nevertheless). Pitch 2 is also circled above. It was called a strike. Obviously, pitch 2 was a ball.
Even Steven, as we used to say.
The thing is, Wendlestedt called balls and strikes this way all game long. Check out the f/x chart below.
Our second chart shows all of Wendlestedt’s called balls and strikes to left handed batters on both teams. The squares are pitches thrown by Twins pitchers, and the triangles are pitches thrown by Yankee pitchers. The red shapes are called strikes, the green shapes are balls. Pitch 4 to Berkman is circled. It was one of six strikes on the inside of the plate that were called balls by Wendlestedt. Three of these pitches were thrown by Yankee pitchers, three by Twins pitchers.
Also note how Wendlestedt called pitches thrown to the outside part of the plate to left-handed hitters. Wendlestedt called a lot of strikes on outside pitches to lefties that should have been called balls. Moreover, if you check the proportion of red squares to red triangles, you’ll see that the Twins have nothing to complain about here. Twins’ pitchers got the benefit of most of the bad calls on these outside pitches. (Note that JoeP noticed this same thing over at FanGraphs: some pitches called strikes for Pavano weren’t given the same benefit for Pettitte. RAB noticed this too. Both JoeP and RAB were far more critical of Wendlestedt’s pitch-calling than I have been.)
It was obvious all game long: Wendlestedt’s strike zone was (from his perspective) located a bit right of where it should have been. I heard Berkman talk about this in his TBS post-game interview (sorry, I don’t have the exact quote): with a left-handed hitter at the plate, Wendlestedt was giving pitchers the outside strike, but not the inside strike. Berkman knew this when he took pitch 4.
Point is: Wendlestedt called balls and strikes to Berkman in the seventh inning pretty much the way he called balls and strikes to lefties all game long. His strike zone was a little strange (also note the lack of strikes called on the bottom ¼ of the plate). But major league hitters adjust to the way an ump calls balls and strikes, so long as these calls are reasonably consistent.
The Twins got the benefit of some of Wendlestedt’s bad calls, including the call on pitch 2 to Berkman. The Yankees got the benefit of other bad calls, in particular the call on pitch 4 to Berkman. Even Steven, as we say. I don’t see anything here for the Twins to complain about.