I’m normally not an ump basher, but…

And versus LHH:

Here is the combined chart for CC:

And to be fair, here is the chart for Verlander (UPDATED):

About these charts, from Brooks:

Non-Normalized maps simply use the actual height of each pitch as it crosses the plate. But, because of variable batter height, this may not provide a completely accurate picture of an Umpire’s Strikezone in the Vertical Axis. The outside edges of the strikezone are then drawn to specifications corresponding to an average umpire’s strikezone.

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46 thoughts on “I’m normally not an ump basher, but…

  1. Just judging by the TBS graphics last nite, CC's pitch chart looked just like Rivera's – he painted a perfect rectangle on the edges of the strikezone.

    Sadly, the umpire defined the edge of the strike zone as "Outside" the strike zone.

  2. to me, it looks like gerry davis was consistently off … about the same number of pitches and the same location miscalled for both pitchers … can't complain about consistency from an umpire, even if it's horrid consistency … even martin alluded to that.

    • I'm not buying this, specifically because of what happened last night. "Consistent" or not, the umpire being horrible created an unfair playing field because he was so slanted between left handed batters and right handed batters, heavily playing to the Tigers' advantage. And that's without even going into the last two innings, or the at bat when he wrung A-Rod up on a pitch he'd called a ball the pitch immediately prior.

      Not that I put that on Detroit, obviously, but I'm not accepting "consistency" as an excuse for bad umpiring anymore. If you're consistently calling marginal pitches one way or another (like Hirschbeck normally does) that's one thing. But guys like Davis or Hunter Wendelstedt whose consistency involves shifting the strikezone and drastically affecting the game? I don't want to hear it. If you can't do that job, you can't do the job.

      • 13 strikes called for pitches from CC outside the strike zone in the chart
        18 strikes called for pitches from Verlander outside the strike zone in the chart

        CC gave up 13 base runners in 5 innings…explain how your "consistent" call theory would've changed the outcome if all the correct calls were made in the game according to the chart?

        Then, find 1 umpire who could live up to your "consistency" standards, in every game, using these types of charts. Save yourself the pain and heartache- one does not exist. Deal with the reality that the Yanks were whipped fair and square.

    • The thing is, if the umpire is calling strikes inside to lefties, they have to defend inside as well as over the plate. They'll swing at pitches they shouldn't, and bad things will happen. The Yankees fielded a lineup with 6 lefties in it. The Tigers had 1 lefty, plus 2 ABs from Don Kelly.

  3. Unless I'm missing something, you've put up 4 figures, but in reality it is just the CC figures repeated (so, 2 figures put up twice).

  4. Sorry if I am being daft, but can someone briefly explain how these charts work? I went to BrooksBaseball to see if I could find a key that explains them, but to no avail.

    Or, if there is a key to the charts at the website, please post the URL.


    • Someone please correct me if I'm wrong:

      -Red triangles are strikes thrown by Yankees pitchers.
      -Green triangles are balls thrown by Yankees pitchers.
      -Red squares are strikes thrown by Tigers pitchers.
      -Green squares are balls thrown by Tigers pitchers.

    • thanks, William. Between the revision of the charts and the other info added in the comments, I now have it figured out. I don’t feel so dumb now either! Clearly I wasn’t the only one confused.

      Also helpful to know that it is from the catcher’s viewpoint, not the pitchers. Again, explains what seemed to me counterintuitive information.

  5. also, a smaller strike zone impacts Sabathia more than it does Verlander due to the discrepancy in their pure stuff.

    If you are going to be squeezed into putting pitches over the heart of the plate, it's a lot easier to do so with the 100 MPH fastball that Verlander has.

    • That was something I noticed – while CC was painting corners and not getting calls, Verlander would just throw three balls down the center of the plate, get three standing strikes, and go to the next batter.

      I guess I'd never realized how much of a finese pitcher CC had devolved into.

      • And a very cursory look shows that 20 pitches by Verlander were out of the strike zone but called strikes, whereas CC had about 12. Do with that as you wish.

        • Wow, really? That's discouraging. It felt that way watching, but to see it in print….

          How different things would've been if the strike zone was the same.

        • Jason, my count is that each pitcher threw five strikes that were called balls. CC had 13 balls called strikes and Verlander had 18 balls called strikes. What I'm seeing is that the ump was calling a lot of strikes on pitches outside the zone that would be inside to lefties, and that Verlander threw more pitches there than CC.

          • Larry, because the plot is normalized — though I'm not sure how — that seems counter-intuitive to watching last night. Where the OUTSIDE pitch to LHH was consistently called a strike but the SAME PITCH to a RHH by CC was not (so outside to LHH, inside to RHH).

          • David, thanks, you're right. The pitch f/x charts are from the catcher's point of view (unlike the charts we see on TV which are normally from the pitcher's point of view). I can never remember this! So yes, what we're seeing above is that left-handed hitters had an expanded strike zone on the outside part of the plate, while righties had balls and strikes called pretty well. As the Yanks lineup was predominately left-handed and the Tigers lineup was predominantly right-handed, this pattern hurt the Yankees.

            So, scratch what I wrote about Verlander throwing more pitches to this zone than CC, because CC did not have an equal opportunity to throw to this zone against lefties. Still, we ARE talking about a difference of five pitches called in Verlander's favor. Some of that 5 pitch difference is a result of Verlander throwing more pitches last night than CC. I read this as a small advantage in favor of the Tigers.

          • I can’t reply to David directly, but wanted to offer these examples to bolster his observation:

            Example 1: Bottom 3rd, CC has two pitches called balls (to a RHH) that appeared to be strikes, one of them being on the outside, lower corner. This prompts Darling’s comment: “If entire ball is not in the box, it won’t get called a strike tonight.” The next pitch, a second pitch on the outside corner is slightly further outside and also called a ball.

            Example 2: Top 4th, Swish out on called third strike, the last out of the inning. This pitch is clearly several inches off the outside part of the plate (to a LHH, thus showing the opposite treatment by the ump). To be honest, I don’t see this pitch on the charts above. I think it would have been much higher than the strike called that is off the outside, lower corner of the box in the chart. That pitch was about halfway up the box, as I recall.

        • wow I guess people did not watch the entire game. The ump made bad/terrible calls for both teams. So if that's the Yankee fans reason for losing, you don't know baseball. :(

          • No one here is blaming the umps for the loss. CC has broad enough shoulers to hold that blame himself. However, the umping wasn’t good at all. For both sides.

    • Bingo. CC doesn't have the stuff anymore to just overpower hitters for 6-7 innings. He relies more on location — both hitting the corners and moving the ball around the strike zone.

      In the bottom of the 3rd, Ron Darling said at one point (paraphrasing): If the entire ball isn't within the box, it won't get called a strike tonight."

      Now, we know that "rule" went out the window in the final 1/3 of the game, but it was certainly a telling comment early on.

      My question: Every BB player from Little League to MLB knows that if the ball, when pitched, crosses any part of the plate — even it if it only grazes the black outside trim of the plate — it is a strike. Where does West get the notion that a ball has to fully within the "box"? Or does the so-called "box" already cover all pitches that only "graze" the outside corner of the plate (or knees or belt — for vertical boundaries)?

  6. And I'd add that the chart really doesn't capture the worst of the matter, which was the way the zone started to dance wildly in the last 3 innings or so.

  7. Balls and Strikes should really be called electronically at this point in time given the technology that is available.

    If a small Ultra-Wideband radar was put pointing up from under home plate it would be able to accurately detect the presence of a pitch over the plate. You could cross correlate that data with other sources, such as the current pitch tracking system that works from the peripherals, to build an extremely accurate representation of the track of the pitch in three dimensions with the exact hight and location it passes over the plate.

    Leave the Ump back there for everything else if MLB wants, but if they did the above it would make a 100% consistent strike zone.

    • Amen to that. And the reason that needs to happen is that although we accept that "consistently calling marginal pitches one way or another (like Hirschbeck normally does) that's one thing" is OK. Even this hurts both hitters and pitchers from game to game. I mean what if we said that consistently calling slightly foul balls fair was OK because he is consistent??

      As the system is today, we can only hope for consistence. As the system should be, we should hope for the correct call.

      • Well if we want to discuss incorporating more technology, that's another matter. My comment was just directed at the different styles of umpiring with regards to marginal calls, which is inherently limited by the physical limitations of human umpires. To that extent, I don't mind the Hirschbeck's, because they are reasonably consistent in a way that's pretty predictable and doesn't affect the game *too* much. But someone who's drastically shifting the zone is another matter, regardless of their consistency.

        • I agree, as I put in the second paragraph, right now all we can hope for is a Hirschbeck, but that is not really acceptable either. It is just more acceptable than what we actually have.

  8. Pretty hilarious to complain about CC being squeezed when he has lived on borderline 1-2, and 2-2 calls.

    Otherwise- I tend to agree. But the solution is to get better umps. The IR and radar stuff is no fun, satisfies only the hyper-critical, and is just as prone to error. The problem is that these guys are not reprimanded for their "pet" strike zones and other awful calls. Even with extra blue on the foul lines, fair/foul calls that the plate ump could make are still blown horribly. Basically- retrain and/or fire bad umps, and reward good ones.

    • "prone to error"

      Human perception and decision making is "prone to error"

      Modern UWBR/Doppler/IR is extremely reliable and accurate. It's not about being hyper-critical, it's about being correct.

      Hell, leave the ump back there w/ a little watch display that lights up red for strikes and green for balls and let a human still call it for the "drama" of the punch out…

    • Precisely, thanks for pointing that out. The fact that umpires face no discipline makes them a law unto themselves, and leads to the kind of discrepancies we saw last night. An umpire could make a lot of money betting on games ~!

  9. Actually, it doesn't look that bad. It doesn't look like CC put too many balls into that ball-that-was-called-a-strike-to-lefties zone to righties that were were not put into play. Can't really complain about that. The fact that the zone seemed to get bigger as the game went on… maybe that… most blatantly when Cano got called on a ball at the shoulders.

    • My man Avila got strike calls 1 foot out of the zone, so too bad for Cano. The ump was terrible for both sides.

      • Yeah, Avila, the ONLY left-handed batter in the Tigers' lineup, got bad strike calls. The Yankees had six lefties getting those bad calls.

        • Simple put no they didn't, not like Avila. The game should have ended the pitch before Jeter swung, we all know that was a strike, but Jeter got lucky with a ball. If he hit the next pitch and sent some runners to the base, you damn well know that Yankees would be keeping their mouths shut about the ump……but he struck out. hahaha

  10. It looks to me like the strike zone this chart is using remains the same, even though the batters change. I thought that strike zones are altered based on a batters height?

    • There are "normalized" plots on Brooks as well (that adjusts the strikes for hitter heights). That is an approximation so there is some error in that too

      I don't have any data on this but umpires tend to call the high pitch regardless of whether the batter is tall or short… I think they tend to account for the hitter mostly on the low strikes. (or at least that is my belief)

  11. Ironically the terrible strike calls laft Gardner at bat on the 3-2 count when he drove in the two runs with a double. The TV zone showed he should have walked on the fourth pitch of the AB, which was clearly high and outside when the count was 3-0. On the other hand, Granderson flied out deep to right on a 2-2 count when the tv zone showed all four pitches taken that were clearly outside the zone.

  12. The ump was bad for both teams, he should be regulated from the home plate. On his defense he was consistent, consistently bad that is. It is what it is and the Detroit Tigers have the better team.

    • As I mentioned in my comment yesterday the issue was not so much consistency between pitchers but the vastly different left handed and right handed hitter strikezones. If there were 2 righties on the mound it would be a bit more even but when you have one team righty heavy and the other team lefty heavy it's a major impact. It would also be a major impact if you had 2 vastly different pitchers… for example if you have a huge strikezone and it's Verlander vs Freddy Garcia that tends to level the playing field more than it should. If it was absurdly tight it might make the gap even larger in that type of a matchup.

      I can't stand the as long as it's cosnistent narrative. If the first base umpire consistently called everyone within 1 step of first base safe, you would not hear people saying "well at least he was consistent for both teams".

      • Way different scenarios. I would prefer an ump who calls a strike a strike and a ball a ball to make the game as evenly as possible. However you must take into consideration human error and the ump sees differently then what we see.
        Baseball can't have instant re-play for every ball thrown it takes long enough as is. They just need to set the standards for the home plate umpire top-notch in the playoffs.
        Quit whining yankees

        • calling one zone for lefty hitters and a different zone for righty hitters = consistent?

          Huh, I thought I understood the meaning of consistent…. apparently the box the batter stands in affects whether a pitch is a ball or a strike.

  13. This view of balls and strikes also may not be the most useful for dissecting balls and strikes. Isn't the strike zone 3 dimensional rather than 2? It's more like a cube or rectangle floating in space. A pitch spinning and crossing the front right corner of the box but ends up a foot outside of the plate when it hits the catcher's glove would still be a strike right? How does the 2 dimensional plotting depicted account for pitch movement? Perhaps all the called strikes that look clearly like balls were closer than what can be depicted in a 2D view? I agree that the strike zone calls did seem to be inconsistent, and subjectively I felt CC was impacted a bit more than Verlander, but for full disclosure I am a Yankee fan.