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  1. top view would be so helpful to illustrate this

    Comment by Chris — January 11, 2013 @ 5:44 pm

  2. I’d say the worst one is the last one because of the inconsistency. Makes hitting and pitching comfortably impossible.

    Comment by Daniel Rozenson — January 11, 2013 @ 5:47 pm

  3. I respectfully doubt that “all hitters really want is consistency.” More likely they really want is a strike zone about three inches wide belt high. Consistency is just something they say when they choose not to lambaste the ump.

    Comment by Dave Scott — January 11, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

  4. These pitches all look like strikes to me.

    Comment by Pablo Sandoval — January 11, 2013 @ 6:33 pm

  5. Huh, and here I fully expected to see the malicious third-strike call against Lawrie. Of course, I can’t remember the pitch-fx data for that one so it’s probably not as mathematically egregious as the ones in this article.

    Comment by wristworks — January 11, 2013 @ 6:47 pm

  6. Genius! I didn’t understand until I saw who posted it. Silly Panda.

    Comment by Cody — January 11, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

  7. Jeff,

    Both of these posts were an absolute joy to read.

    Thank You,

    Comment by Cody — January 11, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

  8. You definitely thrive while hacking so keep doing so Fat Vladdy.

    Comment by Thinly Chubby — January 11, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

  9. I think Smith’s arm angle fooled the umpire in this case, as much as it usually does to righthanded batters. For the same reason it’s tougher for a hitter to pick up, a weird delivery likely makes it tougher for an umpire to accurately call strikes. It might be interesting to separate out the sidearmers and submariners into a pool and check whether their called strike zone floats more than guys with traditional arm slots.

    Comment by Phantom Stranger — January 11, 2013 @ 7:51 pm

  10. I reckon I could hit all of those pitches over an outfield fence.

    Comment by Tyler Greene — January 11, 2013 @ 8:58 pm

  11. PLEASE do a freeze frame of the 2 pitches brett lawrie took for strikes that were a foot off the plate, leading him to smash his helmet off the ground…and Bill Miller

    Comment by WonderBrett — January 11, 2013 @ 10:26 pm

  12. 3rd is the worst. Mostly because I think you can factor in that in the first two, you have two bonafide quality pitch framers added to the fact that they’re both lefties.
    Also I’d suspect that the ump had to make some kind of adjustment to the sidearmer and I’m assuming it was the first pitch the ump saw from him that day maybe it caught him off guard a little, also explains why he might call that one a strike and the next one a ball.

    Comment by Craig — January 12, 2013 @ 12:01 am

  13. Thought of the same thing. Here’s that PA from BrooksBaseball:

    So, looks like it’s maybe 15 inches off the centre of the plate, not quite up to these standards.

    Comment by NorthOf49 — January 12, 2013 @ 12:26 am

  14. To account for the offset just move the pitch (in your mind’s eye, of course) to the right a bit. The more the offset to the right, the more a pitch appears to be away to righties and in to lefties.

    Comment by ezb230 — January 12, 2013 @ 3:19 am

  15. The fact that the strike three call vs. Lawrie was clearly malicious makes it the worst of the year.

    Comment by Tommybones — January 12, 2013 @ 7:52 am

  16. Jeff could really just do a piece on Fernando Rodney making use of Jose Molina’s framing ability.

    Molina caught those two calls on Lawrie and got Cody Ross to throw his bat after a called 3rd strike on the same outside pitch to end a game in April. He basically gave Fernando Rodney an extra 4 inches on either side of the plate to work with, which turned Rodney into a demigod last year.

    Comment by Glorpo — January 12, 2013 @ 9:02 am

  17. Also, it simply looked the worst. There is no excuse for the umpire due to great framing.

    Comment by Baltar — January 12, 2013 @ 11:27 am

  18. I completely agree.

    Comment by Vlad G. — January 12, 2013 @ 11:41 am

  19. Some of these aren’t even that bad. I feel like I see 10 worse calls in every game.

    Comment by Nick — January 12, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

  20. This is a very good idea that would make a lot of intuitive sense

    Comment by Scott — January 12, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

  21. Screw the human element here. Get out the lasers and find a way to make it work. No human can get the strikezone correct. Start in rookie & A league and work up for a few years to make it as perfect as possible. It does seem some batters are hurt more than others (it works that way for pitchers too of course). Micheal Saunders of the M’s seems to get screwed on calls more than most, for whatever reason. He’s normally not a bitcher.
    I remember when Doug Harvey retired he said he would call the strike zone correctly in his last game (the high strike in particular). I’m not blaming umps. Calling the borderline strikes correctly is VERY difficult.
    It could be worse. We could be talking about the NBA. I heard several years back that someone got called for traveling.

    Comment by algionfriddo — January 12, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

  22. It’s the worst because the umpire’s head is already positioned in the same freaking spot. I know umpires generally line up on one side of the catcher or the other and stay there the whole game, but the catcher is ALREADY SET UP OUTSIDE OF THE “THEORETICAL” CATCHERS BOX. It’s no wonder the umpire called that a strike at first. He was probably taking for granted that the catcher would already be that far off the plate to begin with.

    Having been an umpire myself (non pro), I understand that you can’t always sit with your head directly in the middle of the plate (sometimes the catcher’s head is blocking you, in fact, most of the time the catcher’s head is blocking you), but when he’s lining up so far inside, the umpire should have easily been able to line up on the catcher’s right shoulder instead to stay with the plate. As it was, if a pitch had been thrown on the outside portion of the plate (or direct middle, like the Bailey non-call in the last article) those pitches probably would have been called balls simply by virtue of the umpire mistaking where the plate is actually positioned.

    Obviously he corrected his problem on the second pitch (not his positioning, just where he was relative to the plate).

    Comment by TIF — January 12, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

  23. As an example, this fucking game:

    Comment by TIF — January 12, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

  24. Can you analyze the back to back strike calls against lawrie ( which led to his helmet toss) that was the most pathetic umpiring I have seen. Not only the magnitude of the situation but that it was back to back, right after lawrie thought he had drawn a walk. An umpire who has a personal vendetta against a player should be banned.

    Comment by Taylor — January 12, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

  25. Me too :(

    BTW on a totally unrelated note, anyone have a spare roster spot?

    Comment by Delmon Young — January 12, 2013 @ 4:01 pm

  26. On the issue of consistency, I remember watching a yankee game one time and Michael Kay asks Paul O’Neill if all players want is a consistent strike zone. His answer was something along the lines of I want them to call balls over the plate strikes.

    Comment by James G — January 12, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

  27. Except that we don’t. These were the worst of the year.

    Comment by CinemaRing — January 12, 2013 @ 4:52 pm

  28. The problem with this thinking is that the called third strike was actually incredibly close to the strikezone per pitch f/x. The umpire did miss on the pitch before, though IIRC the Blue Jays actually got a pitcher further outside called a strike earlier in the game. This was already linked above.

    Comment by Nitram Odarp — January 12, 2013 @ 7:30 pm

  29. It was nowhere near that bad. The third strike was actually over the plate though probably high. The second strike was 8 inches or so outside, but it actually was not the furthest outside pitch called a strike that game (that one benefited Toronto).

    As linked to above:

    Comment by Nitram Odarp — January 12, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

  30. Has anyone ever studied the ways and frequency that Pitch-fx makes mistakes? How often does it get it wrong, and in what ways when it makes an error?

    Somewhat relatedly, what should the people on the field do when a pitch is thrown but the system doesn’t record it? Call a do-over?

    Comment by Roger Turner — January 12, 2013 @ 9:56 pm

  31. Pitch framing by catchers is one thing. But how about pitch framing by pitchers? I’ve watched Mariano Rivera throw balls that are called strikes for a long time with a lot of different catchers. Of course this is anecdotal and it may not be the case, but I think Mo gets called strikes because of his insane control. He almost never makes the catcher move his mitt at all. Yankees catchers don’t set up as strikes with Mo. Especially inside to lefties. They always sit inside, and Mo often gets that call.

    Comment by Jason H — January 12, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

  32. Cool. Thank you. I hadn’t seen that before.

    Comment by Taylor — January 13, 2013 @ 1:09 am

  33. The highest team walk total in 2012 would have to be Ricky Romero.

    Comment by Matty Brown — January 13, 2013 @ 4:28 am

  34. they do. They want to know what was a strike the previous pitch will again be a strike, and the same with a ball prev, still being a ball. If you (as ump) are mixing up that basic thing, then nobody (pitcher, or batter) is happy. At least if a pitch in a given location is a ball, and is a ball earlier on, and later on, you know to lay off it.. Happy. Uncertainty causes unhappiness and frustration, eventually aimed at the ump.

    Comment by Cidron — January 13, 2013 @ 10:56 am

  35. Sugarland Skeeters? Decent pitching (Clemens among others), but they could use batters/position players

    Comment by Cidron — January 13, 2013 @ 10:59 am

  36. get out the lasers, and you will, dare I say it, have a properly called strike zone. Not the width part, but, you may actually see a strike called above the belt !! *gasp* Even though, it goes up to the armpits (technically, halfway from shoulders to top of pants, so somewhere in upper ribs – given crouch factors) !

    Comment by Cidron — January 13, 2013 @ 11:06 am

  37. good thought, reverse? pitch framing.. on the pitcher. Reminds me of the old Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz days with the Braves. The catcher would set up well off the plate, pitch arrived exactly where the catcher set up, voila, STRIKE.. even though it was ‘jusssst a bit outside’ (in the words of Bob Ueker).

    All three had such remarkable control that the borderline calls were always strikes and they knew it. They used that to push it so that even balls were strikes. Others did to (Eckersly).. but, all were precise in their pitches. A pitched ball was considered a bad days work !

    Good thought on a “next article” – ‘Pitch Framing by the Pitchers’ (or, ‘Its a strike, catcher didn’t even have to move his glove’)

    Comment by Cidron — January 13, 2013 @ 11:12 am

  38. Pitchers often dont get strike calls when they miss their target by a lot. …in the other article looking at the worst strikes called balls, the catchers seemed to have been blamed for poor framing. But really, in all those cases, the pitchers were missing their spots by feet. They just happened to miss over the heart of the plate. They weren’t good pitches even if they should have been called strikes. I think umpires probably have an idea of what a strike will look like before a pitch is thrown based upon how the catcher sets up, and if he doesn’t see that pitch he calls a ball. I wouldn’t be surprised if pitchers have as much to do with “framing” as catchers do.

    Comment by Jason H — January 13, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

  39. The absolute worst case I have seen in 50+ years of watching Major and Minor League baseball was Eric Gregg in the 1997 NLCS,Brave vs Marlins. There is no way that man wasn’t doing that intentionally. No individual umpire could be that consistently bad for an entire game without doing it with a purpose.

    Comment by Leo Walter — January 13, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

  40. Go back to the Braves over their run.. Catcher set up outside the strikezone, away from the hitter a TON of times. Pitch arrived dead on, into the mitt. It was called a strike almost always, even though it was outside the zone. But, as the pitch arrived where it was….

    If I recall right, there was a “instruction” from above (commish office, or similar) to the umpires, stating that they were to call those as balls, even though they arrived exactly on target. Further, if I recall right, alot of the write-ups by sites/papers/media basically pointed at the braves pitching staff as the culprit/cause of this “instruction” from above.

    Comment by Cidron — January 13, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

  41. Worst I remember was CC Sabathia against the Tigers two postseasons ago. He just was not allowed to have a called strike. If you look at the box score it looked like he was wild, but he was throwing five or six strikes to many of those hitters that walked. It felt like some of those walks he struck the hitter out twice in the same at bat.

    Comment by Jason H — January 13, 2013 @ 5:26 pm

  42. These three candidates for worst called strike of the year, perfectly illustrate my biggest umpiring pet peeve, i.e. the umpire that sets up on the hitters inside corner. Many MLB umpires do this is in varying degrees. Some set up way inside, making it almost impossible to be consistent calling balls and strikes on the outside part of the plate. Some of the worst calls I’ve seen came from umpires that set up too far inside.

    Comment by Fred Thompson — January 14, 2013 @ 9:23 am

  43. Yeah, the “Livan Hernandez 12K Game” was just horrible. Like, Naked Gun bad.

    Gregg was having more fun than Livan was.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 14, 2013 @ 10:28 am

  44. Those pitch’s are at least in the strike zone from bottom to top. What about th strikes called on pitch’s in the dirt or at eye level? I’m convinced that some record pitching games (high strikeouts or no hitters) are influenced by the umpire.

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — January 14, 2013 @ 11:38 am

  45. Still holding a grudge after 15 years, TIF?

    Comment by JimmyD — January 14, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

  46. I have to think that the Nava one was worst. I mean, it’s way outta the zone and it’s tailing even farther outta the zone, and I think the catcher basically catches it in the visitor’s dugout. The Holliday one is at least moving towards the plate.

    Hard to get a good comparison on the Reddick one because of the angle, but it might actually be worse than Nava’s. I dunno.

    Comment by Bloggy — January 15, 2013 @ 4:56 am

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