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Strike Zone Newsbeat

Monday, August 25, 2014

Fivethirtyeight: Four Strikes And You’re Out

Hey, its Enrico Palazzo!

Consider a forgotten game in April 2010 between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox were up a run with two outs in the eighth. Their set-up man, Matt Thornton, was on the mound, protecting a lead with a runner on first and the right-handed Jhonny Peralta at bat. Ahead in the count with one ball and two strikes, Thornton froze Peralta with a slider on the outside half of the plate, a couple inches below the belt. For a pitch like that, the umpire, Bruce Dreckman, would normally call a strike — 80 percent of the time, the data shows. But in two-strike counts like Peralta’s, he calls a strike less than half the time.

Sure enough, that night Dreckman called a ball. Two pitches later, Peralta lashed a double to right, scoring the runner and tying the game. Neither team scored again until the 11th, when Cleveland scored twice to win the game. Had Peralta struck out to end the top of the eighth, Chicago almost certainly would have won.1

This one call illustrates a statistical regularity: Umpires are biased. About once a game, an at-bat ends in something other than a strikeout even when a third strike should have been called. Umpires want to make the right call, but they also don’t want to make the wrong call at the wrong time. Ironically, this prompts them to make bad calls more often.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 25, 2014 at 09:47 AM | 51 comment(s)
  Beats: strike zone, umpire

Friday, June 20, 2014

Orioles starters can’t fool hitters

Orioles starters have trouble getting batters to swing at pitches out of the zone, particularly Ubaldo Jimenez:

“Hitters swing at only 24.5% of Jimenez’s pitches out of the zone, fewer than one out of four. This is great, because he throws out of the zone so rarel—err, no, wait, he throws out of the zone 53.6% of the time. Dang.”

rpollack Posted: June 20, 2014 at 02:02 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: orioles, pitchfx, pitching, strike zone

Saturday, May 03, 2014

BtBS: Does the strike zone shrink in later innings?

John Smoltz suggested last week that the strike zone shrinks in the late innings. Is he right? [.

I never trust anything I see on Twitter (or the Internet, for that matter) without checking out the bona fides of the party involved, and after a rigorous vetting process, determined the tweeter involved could be trusted—indeed, they appear to be a stunningly bright group of men and women at the forefront of sabermetric research, but I digress. It poses a legitimate question, and the data exists to check the veracity of the statement.

Before showing the data, it’s important to draw an important distinction. When John Smoltz shaves, he loses more baseball knowledge than I’ll ever possess in my lifetime. In testing questions like this, my purpose isn’t to demean someone or show off my vast knowledge as much as check if the facts line up with the statement. There will never be an instance when my opinion should be given greater weight that John Smoltz’s.

bobm Posted: May 03, 2014 at 09:19 PM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: john smoltz, strike zone

 

 

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