Jim Joyce’s Strike Zone: Not That Bad, Turns Out

Because I’m married — and because my wife informed me that we needed to “get out of the house” at around 5pm CT or whatever — I watched the last third of yesterday afternoon’s Cardinals-Nationals NLDS game from a very authentic sort of supper club near my house in Madison, Wisconsin.

Watching baseball at a supper club in Wisconsin is nothing to complain about — one is warm, one is drinking a brandy Old Fashioned, one is drinking (later on) a second brandy Old Fashioned. Life, in short, has been perfected.

What is something to complain about, I learned — especially if you’re Matt Holliday or the TBS broadcast team or (later on) the entire internet — is home-plate umpire Jim Joyce’s strike zone.

These were not complaints that I actually heard with my own ears. Perhaps the one drawback of watching a baseball game at an authentic sort of supper club in Wisconsin is that a constant soundtrack of top hits from the 50s and 60s and 70s takes precedence over audio commentary.

However, all was not lost: as a married person — and especially as a married person who is also an idiot — I have become quite adept at registering frustration in the facial and bodily expressions of others (wives, most notably, but different kinds of people, too). Which, as an expert in this area, frustration is what I registered on the face and body of Matt Holliday following the third pitch (and third called strike) of his eighth inning plate appearance against Nationals.

Can you spot it?

The strike call to which Matt Holliday is reacting most immediately here regards this pitch:

This pitch, according to PITCHf/x data from Brooks Baseball, was 1.319 feet from the center of home plate. Owing to how home plate is 17 inches wide — and, therefore, half of home plate is 8.5 inches (or .71 feet) — one feels pretty comfortable in saying that umpire Jim Joyce missed the call. That’s not ideal — especially given the situation (i.e. tied, possible elimination playoff game).

However, reactions to Joyce’s strike-calling for the duration of the game seem overstated. Not only was Joyce’s strike zone rather consistent over the course of the game, but it was mostly consistent with how umpires call strike zones all the time.

Let’s return to Holliday’s eighth inning plate appearance. Here, courtesy of Brooks again, are the locations of Clippard’s three pitches to Holliday:

“Those are all outside, you dirty Italian!” the reader cries aloud to the author. To which that same author responds: “I see that.” And also: “Maybe let’s keep the ethnic slurs to a minimum.”

Indeed, all of those pitches from Clippard to Holliday were off the plate — were, in fact, 1.175, 1.085, and 1.319 feet, respectively, from the middle of said plate, according to the data.

However, work from John Walsh on the strike zone at The Hardball Times from a few years ago demonstrates that umpires, on average, call a wider zone than the rule book otherwise dictates. Here, for example, is the normal strike zone to right-handed batters:

In fact, umpires call a strike zone that’s about a full two-feet wide. Applying that same zone to the Holliday at-bat, here’s what we find:

By this measure, we see that — relative to how the strike zone is usually called — that Joyce has only really erred notably on that third and final called strike to Hollday.

This was really the case during the entirety of the game. In fact, including the bad call to Holliday, Joyce made only three notably poor ball/strike calls on Thursday.

Here, by way of example, are all of Joyce’s calls with right-handers batting (with the actual strike zone, as it’s called, noted by hash marks):

And here are Joyce’s calls with left-handers batting (with the actual left-handed strike zone, as it’s called on average, noted by hash marks):

Indeed, besides the called third strike to Holliday, Joyce’s other notable errors came with Ross Detwiler pitching. Twice Joyce adjudged would-be strikes from Detwiler to be out of the zone — one, on a first-inning pitch to Jon Jay (the first pitch of the game, actually); the second, a fourth-inning pitch to Daniel Descalso.

Did Joyce’s one poor call draw some (probably deserved) attention because of the circumstances under which it occurred? Yes. Was that one poor call representative of a poorly called game, in general? The data would suggest not.




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Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.

72 Responses to “Jim Joyce’s Strike Zone: Not That Bad, Turns Out”

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  1. Brian says:

    Am I the only person who can’t stand the pitch tracker from TBS? I understand they want to flood the screen with as much information as possible, but just gives people more things to complain about when pitches go against their team. And even though it may represent the rulebook strikezone, everyone knows each umpire has his own version of the strikezone which most often does not reflect what the rulebook says.

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    • Zach says:

      Yeah I can’t stand it either. And compared to the strike zone on mlb.com, it’s incredibly tight. I prefer the way the umpire has called the game every time to the way it would have been called with the TBS pitch tracker

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    • Bigmouth says:

      Personally, I love it. Reminds me of maybe the best SI article I ever read. After the Dodgers beat the A’s in 1989, they had Scioscia go over a game pitch by pitch with diagrams. It blew my young mind.

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    • Bernie says:

      Totally agreed. I’m really scared about how dependent on it I’ve become to–as you’ve said–complain about. Likewise, I know Wally Bell was doing a lousy job behind the plate last night without the constant reminder. I don’t see Verlander losing a game this postseason if he’s going to continually get so much help.

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    • Ken says:

      What would be really cool is if, as the game progressed, they superimposed how the ump was calling the strike zone as data became available. Perhaps sometime around the 4th or 5th inning you could get a pretty good idea of what is an isn’t being called a strike, assuming of course, the ump is reasonably consistent.

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    • cpebbles says:

      I’m fine with PitchTrax, they just desperately need to recalibrate it. It’s frustrating to see so many pitches a full 3-4″ below the strike zone registering as borderline strikes, which has consistently been the case for every series.

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    • Bob Grayton says:

      Brian, you didn’t need TBS pitch tracker to know that Jim Joyce was awful. If you watched baseball for consistently for a long time, you can tell it was bad. I mean, you can see the plate. I’m comfortable with a pitch being called a strike if at least a part of the ball hits the outside black — not necessarily the whole ball or the whole black… just a part. And yet last night multiple pitches were called well beyond the black. It was a disgrace to the game and these two teams who played hard all year to get to this point. I feel cheated as a fan, as should anyone else who loves baseball.

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  2. tim says:

    The Cardinals are a disciplined team who work the zone and make you throw strikes. With a zone that wide on both sides, you cannot do that and are forced to protect and swing on pitches you otherwise wouldn’t. Also, what about the strike at the knees which he consistently missed? Like the pitch on Werth called a ball that was a clear strike, right before the homer. Just saying.

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    • Aaron (UK) says:

      That “clear strike” is the little green triangle just outside the bottom-right corner of the zone (to RHH)

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      • payroll says:

        The width of the ball is greater than .1 inches. If that plot marks the center of the ball, then the top part of the ball would have caught the zone.

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      • David says:

        *lol* yup! There are a mess of pitches against RHHs that are outside the rule book strike zone that were called strikes anyway, but only a single rule book strike called as a ball … and that was high and inside.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Pitch f/x isn’t particularly great at telling whether or not a pitch is high or low.

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      • payroll says:

        But it is consistent, no? Can we agree that cameras are going to be more consistent than human eyes?

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Not so sure about that. It’s still guessing when the ball crosses the place to a certain extent. It’s still limited by the 30 FPS that the cameras it uses are shooting at.

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  3. WG says:

    That we are discussing an ump’s strike zone at ALL is the problem. And yes, it was a problem last night. Yes, consistently bad for both sides, but still doesn’t make it right. It changes the game.

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  4. Wes says:

    Mmmm… brandy old fashioned.

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  5. Otis says:

    For 8 innings Joyce neutralized both offenses. Completely changes the game. For whatever reason he opened up in the 9th, to both sides.

    I’m tired of hearing it was bad for both sides, or it was consistent. It was terrible and it messes with the integrity of the game.

    If I have to hear one more time how “respected” Jim Joyce is after he botches another call I’ll puke.

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    • gnomez says:

      The thing about Joyce is exposure. Yes, he blew the Galarraga call. Yes, he called a terrible game in the NLDS. On the other hand, most games I’ve seen him call have been very good. He calls one of the most consistent strikeouts in the game, and makes most calls in the field.

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  6. Anon says:

    By this measure, we see that — relative to how the strike zone is usually called — that Joyce has only really erred notably on that third and final called strike to Hollday.

    So the typical called zone is wider than the rulebook zone. The pitches were outside that zone too but not by a lot, so I’ll add an adverb to make the ump look less bad.

    The zone had to be 43% larger than the plate to call the third pitch a strike. That is absurd.

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    • chuckb says:

      The more I read this, the more infuriated I get. I know I shouldn’t let this get to me but it is patently ridiculous that umpires — apparently, knowingly and willfully — call strikes that aren’t in the strike zone. “Well, it’s ok. Everyone else does it, too!” F-you. If it’s a strike, call it a strike. If it’s not, it’s not.

      It’s one thing to make a mistake. That’s excusable. No one’s going to get 250-300 pitches right. It’s entirely another to DELIBERATELY make the wrong call and then justify it by saying either “at least I’m doing it consistently” or “but everyone else does it also.” If the umpires did this at first base — just willingly, blatantly, deliberately called someone safe when he was out or vice-versa — people would go ballistic.

      It’s absurd that this is allowed, excused, and rationalized. Computers have the ability to get this right. If the umpires are unwilling to enforce the strike zone, as it appears, we need to replace them with computers that will enforce the strike zone. If the computers screw up, at least it won’t be willingly and deliberately.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        You do realize that pitch f/x treats a ball with a diameter of ~3 inches as if it were a point, right? And that it only reporting its position at one moment, not the entire time it is over the place? The MLB rule book says nothing about how much of the ball needs to cross the plate for it to be a strike. If we accept that any part of the ball crossing over the plate at any point is a strike, then we should expect that any ball that’s only an inch of the plate is a strike, and quite a few of the balls that are charted as 2 inches off the plate were in fact over the plate at some point.

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      • diegosanchez says:

        While we’re at it, why does no one get pissed off that the called zone is from (roughly) the belt to the knees when Rule 2.00 in the official handbook states:
        “The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a
        horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform
        pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap.”

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    • joser says:

      Actually, what they should do is adjust the rulebook to reflect the zone as it is actually called. Just as we had the discussion earlier with Ichiro and the basepath, the infield fly rule, and so many other things, as the game evolves the rulebook should be adjusted to reflect accepted practice. At least the act of laying it down on paper would cement the discussion — is this how we want the game called, or not?

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    • payroll says:

      I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Umpire maintain they get 95% of strike calls correct. Well, that’s 10-20 blown strike calls per game. Much more significant than the random foul ball call that gets blown a handful of times all year. But we have instant replay in place for that, yet nobody, not even fangraphs evidently, gives a shit about the innumerable outs that are wasted due to incorrect strike calling. This is the biggest threat to baseball’s integrity after PEDs in my opinion and in the SSS world of 5 game series, correct strike calling is absolutely critical.

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      • joser says:

        Well, if it is the biggest threat, it’s also been the biggest threat for over a century, so I guess it will destroy baseball any day now.

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      • payroll says:

        I suppose its not threatening anymore since it has been going on forever but yes, every MLB record is farcical to some degree, absolutely.

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  7. Tony says:

    Is anyone else ready for computers to call balls and strikes?

    How is an at bat with three called strikes that are at least three inches off the plate, including a called strike three that is over seven inches off the plate, not an example of terrible umpiring? Even if umpires (wrongly) tend to call pitches 2.5 inches off of the plate strikes, all three pitches in Holliday’s at bat were even further off the plate than that.

    We can build robot umpires that NEVER miss balls or strikes. We have the technology. Why don’t we do it?

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    • Todd says:

      I am so, so, so ready.

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    • MikeM says:

      I’m very ready. That’s why I like what TBS is doing with putting pitchtrax on screen. Showing the world that they have the technology for a “robot” to call balls and strikes while also pointing out how badly most umps deviate from the rule book will hopefully lead to a demand for computerized calling of balls & strikes.

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    • joser says:

      I think we should just start by putting a little cruciform of LEDs in the ump’s mask — a green one in the center, and red ones for high, inside, outside, and low — connected to a wireless receiver. Have them light up to reflect what PitchFX has recorded. The ump is still free to call it “as he sees it” but he’ll be on notice as to what the record will show later. And he should, at the end of the season, be expected to defend his record. (Ideally we’d see attrition of the worst three or four strike-callers each season, to be replaced by the best coming up from AAA, but this is a union not a meritocracy). What I expect will happen is that the umps, despite inevitable complaints and protests, will start to call the PitchFX strikezone — perhaps in spite of themselves. It won’t happen right away, but even if they’re fighting it the subconscious suggestion made by the lights will eventually hold sway.

      A human needs to be there to call plays at the plate, pop-ups to the catcher, and foul tips. But there’s no reason why we can’t use technology to help him be better at his job. (If he just becomes a meat puppet for the PitchFX system, so much the better).

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    • Nitram Odarp says:

      The thing is computers aren’t ready to call balls and strikes with perfect accuracy either. They are better at calling balls and strikes on the inside and outside of the plate, but they are not good at calling the upper and lower boundary of the strike zone. Besides, am I the only one who doesn’t want to see catcher framing ability removed from the game entirely? Not that I’m against any sort of progress in baseball (I would like to see expanded replay), but I prefer human umpires calling balls and strikes.

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      • joser says:

        Your evidence that they’re not good for the upper and lower bound is what, exactly? You are aware PitchFX is adjusted for that per-batter, as necessary?

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        I’m not sure that is true, but either way, I’m trusting the judgment of Mike Fast, who knows a heck of a lot more about pitch f/x than either of us.

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    • snoop LION says:

      READY

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  8. xsturmin8 says:

    This analysis strike me as incomplete. You showed that each pitch was consistent with the likelihood of being called a strike given the typical actual strike zone.

    What you need to show is that the collection of all pitches was consistent with that. The boundary you mark is where roughly 50% of pitches should be called balls and 50% strikes. If you manually count pitches near that line there are roughly 13 of them, only one is a ball. Plug this into a binomial distribution and the likelihood of 1 or fewer pitches being called a ball given that boundary is roughly .2%, suggesting a strike zone that was significantly shifted outside.

    I don’t have access to the actual data so I can’t do a formal analysis, but it’s important to judge probabilistic data in its entirety and not on a case by case basis.

    Each data point may not be an outlier, but the data as a whole appears to be so.

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  9. chuckb says:

    I have to say, with all due respect to Carson, that this meme that a bad strike zone from an umpire is somehow OK because it is “consistent” absolutely repugnant to me. If an umpire “consistently” makes bad calls at first, is it ok as long as he does it in equal numbers for both teams? Consistently bad calls are just that — they’re bad and I find it appalling that people (mostly TV commentators) excuse the bad calls by saying “at least he’s being consistent.”

    Holliday couldn’t hit that pitch if he was swinging a telephone pole — and the same was true as you pointed out for many strikes called against the Nats — and it’s absolutely absurd that this continues to be OK with people in an age where we have the technology to improve it. After all, isn’t this why baseball instituted Quest-Tec?

    Joyce’s strike zone yesterday was horrific. It cannot be excused or rationalized away simply by saying that Joyce was consistently bad for both teams. If umpires cannot call the strike zone correctly, they shouldn’t be out there.

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    • Aaron (UK) says:

      Another argument against “umpire’s internal consistency” is: just what are hitters in the 1st supposed to do?

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    • stretchfest says:

      The way Holliday is built he probably could swing a telephone pole.

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    • J.R.Reynolds says:

      Regarding the pitches to Matt Holliday, two things are clear (1) the ‘bad calls” were right on the edge of the plate, NOT “way outside”, and (2) after two pitches in that spot were called strikes, Holliday should have been swinging, especially with 2 strikes on him.

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  10. Uncle Randy says:

    Even IF you concede that his strike zone wasn’t terrible, there is simply no getting around the fact that his third strike calls last night were an insult to every creature on this planet, living or dead.

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  11. Bob Grayton says:

    I’m sorry, but rationalizing the strike zone based upon typical poor officating trends — which is what you’re saying… that umpires usually call a wider strike zone — is a farce and a detriment to the game.

    Jim Joyce was terrible last night. Absolutely terrible. Both sides complained about it. It likely kept a “decent” pitcher like Ross Detweiler in the game. As a lefty, he was targeting six inches plus off the plate, which were getting called strikes all night.

    Consequently, if you actually would have watched the entire game rather than casually viewing it at a supper club, you could tell that Cardinals hitters in particular were expanding their strike zones to at least be able to foul off that outside pitch. Not surprisingly, it then left them vulnerable for anything thrown inside.

    Look, the Nats won. Good for them. Lance Lynn didn’t do what he should have and just pound the outside six inches to a foot off the plate, get his strikes, and get out of the half inning. Bully for Jason Werth on a great at bat. That said, the Cardinals had one of the best offenses in baseball all year. It’s littered with .300 hitters and post season veterans. And yet, during one point last night, 7 straight batters were struck out. That doesn’t happen without being influenced by a wildly inconsistent and terrible strike zone. Period.

    In other words, you can put as much lipstick and eye liner on this pig as you want, but Jim Joyce absolutely was THAT BAD.

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    • Richard says:

      “That said, the Cardinals had one of the best offenses in baseball all year. It’s littered with .300 hitters and post season veterans. And yet, during one point last night, 7 straight batters were struck out. That doesn’t happen without being influenced by a wildly inconsistent and terrible strike zone. Period.”

      This is silly. Of course it happens. Maybe this game it was a function of a poor zone, but to suggest seven straight “.300 hitters” won’t all strike out is nonsense.

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    • Felix says:

      Consequently, if you actually would have watched the entire game rather than casually viewing it at a supper club, you could tell that Cardinals hitters in particular were expanding their strike zones to at least be able to foul off that outside pitch.

      Molina’s AB during that K parade comes to mind.

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  12. James says:

    Crying about the strike zone *worked* for the Cardinals last year in game 3 vs. Cliff Lee. LaRussa got on TBS and did an interview crying that the umps were giving Lee too much and the zone changed in the 4th inning.

    Why not go back to what worked before for the Cardinals?

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  13. Bob Grayton says:

    Bitter Philly fan? Very nice. I watched that game very closely, and Lee was getting a bigger zone than he should have. Still, I haven’t seen this poor of a zone since Eric Gregg’s infamous Marlin/Brave playoff game in 97.

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    • Richard says:

      you watched very closely, eh? Go back and look at the data…. Lee was getting pinched after the whining (which was, however, more about Carpenter supposedly being pinched, which he was not at all–seriously, look at the data). (And, yes, bitter Phillies fan.)

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  14. payroll says:

    “but it was mostly consistent with how umpires call strike zones all the time.”

    How did this ever get to be the point? And isn’t that really the source of the frustration, that in fact zones vary from ump to ump and so hitters and pitchers alike sacrifice at bats needlessly over this? The rules are very clear here. I don’t see why we keep treating the strike zone differently than foul ball lines. It is just as definite.

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  15. John Stamos says:

    Noticing that the first two called strikes were also outside of the perceived strike zone, Holliday should have been “protecting the plate.” He was basically given free data by Joyce that the strike zone was indeed much further outside than he thought. Holliday had two whole pitches before the third called strike.

    And kudos to Clippard for nibbling away on the outside edge of the plate with such precision.

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  16. Bert says:

    OK, but what about the near perfect pitch Lynn should have struck out Werth with? I believe the 11th pitch of the at bat?

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    • payroll says:

      I’m not convinced that there are enough “make up” calls over the course of a season to balance out all the blown ones, much less the SSS of a 5 game series.

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    • Person says:

      Well, it would be one of those green squares on the RHH chart. Please tell me which of those green squares you find inside either Joyce’s or even the rule book strike zone?

      Methinks some people are placing too much faith in the view they are getting from a camera that is offset from center enough to confuse the outside edge of the strike zone.

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  17. MikeS says:

    Maybe a silly question.

    When a pitch is “1 foot from the center of homeplate” is that the edge of the ball or the center? A baseball is 2 7/8 – 3″ in diameter, call it 3″. If any of the baseball passes over any of the plate then it is a strike. So if you are measuring the middle of the ball then any pitch that is up to 10″ from the center of home plate is still a strike – 8.5″ of rubber and 1.5″ of cowhide.

    This does not even cover the fact that the trajectory of the ball is almost never parallel to the edge of the plate. So the next question would be is where are they measuring the location? Front edge? Back edge? Middle? It is entirely possible that a ball passes over the front corner of home plate but by the time it gets to the back edge it is no longer over the plate or vice versa.

    Without knowing the methods, any analysis is worthless.

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    • Tom says:

      With Brooks (pitch f/x) it is the center of the ball, so you should add in a radius (~1.5″)

      The other issue you mention – I think pitch f/x is at the front edge of the plate. (don’t know if TBS is using this data or their own system)

      Depending on where the pitcher stands on the rubber, the handedness, the arm slot (over the top, 3 quarter or even sidearm), the extension of the pitcher and type of pitch, you can have situations where maybe you miss the front edge, but catch the back edge (or vice versa). For umpires, I’m guessing it is a little more variable in terms of front of plate/back of plate as opposed to a camera based system like pitch f/x

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    • J.R.Reynolds says:

      Nicely put , but the strike zone is 8.5” from the center of the plate, so a ‘real’ strike is up to 11.5” from the center of the plate. .)

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  18. cpebbles says:

    Since there’s no better place to put this: Kozma should have been benched in favor of a goddam pitcher just standing in the vicinity of shortstop after he missed that hit-and-run. I not only hope he’s finally released this offseason, I hope they drop his ass out of the flight back home without a parachute.

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  19. Tom says:

    When a pitch being a strike or ball is dependent on which box the batter steps into, I don’t see how anyone can call Joyce (or any umpire) consistent.

    Why would you split up the FASTMAPS? Why is a ball 4-6″ on the 3rd base side of homeplate normally a strike to a lefty hitter but a ball to a righty hitter?

    This is a huge issue for games which have opposing handed starters – which often means the two teams have a different mix of lefties and righties.

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    • Bojan says:

      That has mostly to do with the fact that most umpires nowadays work from the slot, and that the game is not symmetrical. All catchers are right-handed, meaning that when the ball is outside to the right-handed batter they will have a view of it over the catcher’s glove side. When it is outside to the left-handed batter, they will have a look at it over the shoulder of a throwing arm, which will get lowered less than the “glove” shoulder, thus giving an umpire different (and worse) view.*

      I would love to see some pitch f/x data from the time where more umpires worked the box stance.

      *I put some photographs of what I’m describing here , ignore the rest as it was mostly written in jest.

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  20. Scott says:

    Let’s try a computer strike zone in a college or Independant league, refine the technology and umpire duties and go from there. Does MIT have a baseball team? Remember the NFL before replay? That sport is more fair every year and much better for it.

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  21. Jason says:

    Can’t you just look at the locations of the pitches that were called strikes, look at the fact there were six HITS in a game that featured two of the top five offenses in the NL and conclude an egregiously wide strike zone was severely detrimental to the chances of the teams’ scoring runs?

    Can’t you conclude that Joyce’s performance influenced the outcome not by favoring a team but by ensuring it would be extremely difficult to score? Can’t you then decide umpires must perform better or a better ball/strike system has to be put in place?

    I think you can. Trying to create an argument that this level of umpiring is acceptable only adds to the problem.

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  22. Alan Shank says:

    Some issues with TBS’ version of PitchTrax:

    1. The “ball” shown in the graphic is WAY too big, as the strike zone is only three balls wide. So, when a ball is shown barely touching the strike zone, does that mean it was a ball, because an actual-sized ball (2.86″) would not have touched the zone?

    2. On some pitches, they show a couple of alternate views, which show the PATH of the ball, either looking down on the plate from above or a side view, from the front to the back of the plate. Do these views really indicate that all that information is there? Also, in these views the “ball” is just a stripe and doesn’t appear to be over-sized.

    If they have the technology to actually capture the path of the ball through or past the strike zone (including varying the height for each individual batter), then they should use it, in my view. However, a ball moving at 90 mph is moving at 132 ft/sec, or 1584 in/sec, so it travels 17 inches in .0107 seconds, which is less than a third of 1/30 second.

    Asking umpires to call balls and strikes accurately, which is not humanly possible, totally aside from the “personal” strike zones different umpires have, introduces a “randomizing” element into baseball, which means that the impact of a batter’s or pitcher’s skill in commanding the strike zone is reduced.

    Cheers,
    Alan Shank
    Woodland, CA

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    • J.R.Reynolds says:

      The strike zone is 23” wide, not “3 balls wide”. The rule states that if any part of the ball crosses any part of the strike zone, it’s a strike. The strike zone is 8.5 inches from the center of the plate, PLUS the width of the ball (which is +-3 inches), so a ‘real’ strike is up to 11.5” from the center of the plate.

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  23. james wilson says:

    I suspect that it would be a great relief to hitters and pitchers equally to know to a certainty if a pitch was a ball or a strike. If in fact MLB does in future go to electronic strike zones the next thing to happen will bee a tinkering with it. Just as after Gibson came in at a 1.16 ERA and Yastremski won the AL batting crown at .301 the mound was lowered officially, and the strike zone unofficially, so would an electronic strike zone be altered to meet the desired results of MLB.

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  24. stan says:

    I totally disagree. Joyce’s strike zone was ridiculous and what’s worse, it was fluid. It was basically a total guess whether something on the outside of the plate would be a ball or a strike. Sometimes a pitch that was two inches inside the strike zone was a ball, sometimes a pitche that was two inches outside the strike zone was a strike. Once the pitchers figured that out the hitters had no chance.
    By the sixth inning I felt like Enrico Palazzo was calling the game, because hitters, especially Cardinal hitters, were getting called out on pitches they couldn’t possibly reach.
    Between that awful strike zone and his two blown calls at firs the previous dayt, I wonder how Jim Joyce got his reputation as a great umpire. If it was ever earned, his skills have left him.

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    • J.R.Reynolds says:

      While the outside edge of the plate is indeed 8.5 inches from the center, the rule states that if any part of the ball crosses any part of the strike
      ?z?one, it’s a ‘S?trike’. Therefor, the true accurate strike zone is 8.5 inches PLUS the width of the ball (which is +-3 inches), so a ‘real’ strike is up to 11.5” from the center of the plate.

      This is also true for the top and bottom of the zone, which means in all the charts one sees about how pitches are called, all those strikes that seem to be ‘just ?outside?’ 0r ‘at the letters?’?are really strikes, or they are so close that calling them “bad calls” is really splitting hairs.

      Regarding the pitches to Matt Holliday, two things are clear (1) the ‘bad calls” were right on the edge of the plate, NOT “way outside”, and (2) after two pitches in that spot were called strikes, Holliday should have been swinging, especially with 2 strikes on him.

      J.R. REYNOLDS

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  25. HOSS says:

    This is a controversy that shouldn’t exist. All the graphs and data are impressive. However, they are irrelevant other than to show that Joyce shouldn’t be behind the plate. First of all, the rules of baseball should apply to umpires as they do to players. Keep in mind that the “game” is about those who play it, not those who referee it. Thus, the thought that the umpires are doing a good job when they call pitches consistent with their “big” or “small” strike zones misses the point, since MLB has designated what the strike zone is, and has not left it a discretionary aspect of umpiring. And, as in the case of Holliday, the umpire effectively took the bat out of his hand. You hate to lose to the pitcher, but you absolute hate to lose to the umpire at the plate. And yes, an umpire can affect the outcome of a game, which can be devastating under the right circumstances. We’ve all seen it, but often feel there is nothing that can be done about bad officiating. What bothers me is that these bad balls/strikes calls are so common; we’ve come to accept them as part of the “human” factor of baseball. BS, for the sake of the game and of the players, we have to get it right. MLB must correct this; and has the capability to do it. With today’s technology, balls and strikes can be called immediately by the f/x. Everyone wants to get it right. Lets do it!

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  26. J.R.Reynolds says:

    Major League strike zone

    While the outside edge of the plate is indeed 8.5 inches from the center, the rule states that if any part of the ball crosses any part of the strike
    ?z?one, it’s a ‘S?trike’. Therefor, the true accurate strike zone is 8.5 inches PLUS the width of the ball (which is +-3 inches), so a ‘real’ strike is up to 11.5” from the center of the plate.

    This is also true for the top and bottom of the zone, which means in all the charts one sees about how pitches are called, all those strikes that seem to be ‘just ?outside?’ 0r ‘at the letters?’?are really strikes, or they are so close that calling them “bad calls” is really splitting hairs.

    Regarding the pitches to Matt Holliday, two things are clear (1) the ‘bad calls” were right on the edge of the plate, NOT “way outside”, and (2) after two pitches in that spot were called strikes, Holliday should have been swinging, especially with 2 strikes on him.

    J.R. REYNOLDS

    ?San Diego County Baseball Umpires Association?

    ?
    in the words of George Carlins’ “Biff Barf”, Sportscaster:
    “?
    I call ‘em the way I see ‘em – and, if I don’t see ‘em, I make ‘em up! .)

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    • RobM says:

      J.R. I see what you are saying and this has always interested me. However, the location of the ball given by the pitchf/x machine is measured to the center of the ball (I’m guessing), so wouldn’t that only expand the strike zone by about half the diameter of the baseball (1.5″) on each side, for the purposes of this discussion.

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