Losing is generally not a fun, enjoyable experience. Winning is better, and when you don’t win, sometimes you look for reasons why that coveted win didn’t occur. In baseball, the margin between winning and losing is often very small, and that has certainly been the case in the American League Championship Series: both of the series’ first two games were close, low-scoring affairs won by a Cleveland team that scored a total of runs. While players generally control outcomes, for a high-scoring team like the Toronto Blue Jays to score just one run in two games, the results have been unusual, a little too unusual, per Mike Vorkunov’s twitter account.
— Mike Vorkunov (@Mike_Vorkunov) October 16, 2016
I don’t know if I’m lumped in there with “you guys,” but I’m more than happy to discuss the “circumstances” of which Bautista speaks. Bautista’s addressing the strike zone, and he believes that Cleveland pitchers have been getting borderline calls that Toronto’s pitchers haven’t. Let’s work backwards and begin with Saturday’s game. Here’s the strike-zone plot against left-handers hitters for Cleveland and Toronto pitchers care of Brooks Baseball. (View from the catcher’s perspective.)
Green is a called ball and red is a called strike, with Cleveland represented by squares and the Blue Jays represented by triangles. For our purposes here, let’s break things into categories. We can look at missed calls in and out of the strike zone and borderline calls. Based on the typical strike zone, we find two missed calls going against Blue Jays pitchers. For borderline calls, let’s say anything touching the line of the typical strike zone is borderline. By that definition, Cleveland threw three borderline pitches and got two strikes. Toronto threw two borderline pitches and got one strike.