The Washington Nationals vs. Vic Carapazza

This is a story all about how an umpire flipped-turned a playoff game upside down.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming the outcome of Saturday night’s marathon game between Washington and San Francisco entirely on fourth-year umpire Vic Carapazza, working in his first MLB postseason. I would never do that. Despite what disgruntled fans might lead you to believe, the blame for a team’s loss can never be placed on the shoulders of one individual. Especially not in a game that lasted 18 innings.

There are countless factors that played into Washington’s loss, and that’s been reflected in the media’s coverage of this game. The offense went scoreless for 15 innings after taking a 1-0 lead in the third. Many have focused on manager Matt Williams‘ decision to remove starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann after a walk in the ninth. Some have focused on… the male genitalia? But a lot of attention has turned to Carapazza, who had a shaky strike zone and ejected Williams and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera in the bottom of the 10th for arguing balls and strikes.

Cabrera and Williams need to keep their cool in that situation, but, boy, did Vic Carapazza have himself a rough night.

The first thing we can do to look at an umpire’s performance is evaluate their strike zone plots. In these plots, the squares are pitches thrown by Nationals pitchers, while the triangles are pitches thrown by Giants pitchers. Reds are called strikes, greens are balls.

First, to right-handers:

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 11.39.28 AM

Carapazza certainly expanded the zone outside to right-handers, and also had a few bad misses, both high and low-and-away. Now, to the left-handers:

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 11.42.10 AM

Carapazza was a bit better to the lefties, but what these images call to my attention is Carapazza’s consistency. Consistency, as an umpire, is giving the same strike zone to both teams. The Giants got 20 called strikes outside the typical strike zone. The Nationals got just 10. Look at the right-handed plot. Of the 15 pitches called for strikes outside the typical right-handed strike zone, 12 of them were in favor of the Giants. The Nationals didn’t get the same calls up in the zone as the Giants. The Nationals didn’t get the same calls low-and-away as the Giants. Now look at the left-handed plot. Yes, for the most part, Nationals pitchers also threw to an expanded zone, but they also saw several of their pitches within the expanded zone go for balls, whereas nearly every close pitch the Giants threw went for a strike.

But the issue isn’t just that Carapazza was inconsistent in the Giants favor. It’s that he was inconsistent at the worst possible times.

The moment of the game that has received the most attention, understandably, is Brandon Belt‘s go-ahead home run in the top of the 18th inning. But perhaps an even bigger moment was Zimmermann’s walk with two outs in the top of the ninth, because if Zimmmermann can retire that batter, Belt’s homer never happens nine innings later. We’ll get to the video of Zimmermann’s walk in a moment, but first, let’s set things up.

Zimmermann’s walk was to second baseman Joe Panik, who hits left-handed. As we’ve discussed, Carapazza established an outside zone to left-handed batters, and he established it early.

From the first inning:

zimout1

Of the four pitches I’ve selected to help set up the ninth-inning walk, this is actually the one closest to the heart of the plate, but it’s still outside the designated PITCHf/x strike zone and Pablo Sandoval still doesn’t like the call. Regardless, Zimmermann gets his first outside strike in the first inning and continues to get it the majority of the night.

From the third inning:

zimout2

From the fifth:

zimout3

And the sixth:

zimout4

All game long, Jordan Zimmermann was dealing. And all game long, Jordan Zimmermann was getting the outside strike. Until the last batter he faced. One out away from victory, this is the zone Zimmermann dealt with:

wasball5

That’s ball one to Panik. The first pitch is the biggest pitch of an at-bat. Zimmermann got to the ninth inning with less than 90 pitches because of his ability to work quickly, and working quickly begins with getting first pitch strikes. Here, Zimmermann throws a pitch that he got for a strike all night, but Carapazza calls it a ball. Zimmermann shakes his head in slight disapproval, now behind 1-0 in the count.

wasball6

Zimmermann comes back to the exact same spot, because, again, that pitch had been a strike all night. But again, Carapazza sticks with his newfound zone and calls a ball. Again, Zimmermann looks like he doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do, and it’s tough to blame him.

He misses high on the next pitch to get behind 3-0, and then throws a strike to get to 3-1. Here’s his final pitch of the night:

wasball7

Zimmermann can’t believe it. He knows his night is over, and he knows his night is over because he inexplicably stopped getting a call he was getting all night long. We all know what happened next. Drew Storen came on in relief, gave up two consecutive singles, the Giants tied the score at 1-1 and the teams played eight more innings of scoreless baseball until Belt’s homer.

The ball four pitch was a shade outside, but the first two were both not only within the boundaries of a typical strike zone, but strikes Carapazza had already called that night, given his expanded zone:

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 10.01.05 AM

Adding insult to injury is that after Zimmermann’s costly walk, Carapazza went right back to calling this pitch a strike! Not only that, but seemingly all went against Nationals hitters, and their frustration is evident in the following clips. I think it’s worth noting, too, that all of the following came after Carapazza’s ejection of Cabrera and Williams in the 10th inning. Bryce Harper had also been barking from the bench and Zimmermann himself had some words for Carapazza throughout the night. I sure would hope that a major league umpire in a postseason game would be able to put tension aside and not let bias creep into his decision making, but it’s hard not to consider it a possibility.

From the 13th inning:

wasout1

From the 14th:

wasout2

And the 16th:

wasout3

It seems the only time all night that pitch wasn’t a strike was during Panik’s walk. That is, until one pitch before Belt’s game-winning homer in the 18th, when he got this pitch for a ball in a 2-2 count:

wasball8

Granted, this pitch is little high, and it’s probably a borderline call either way. Granted, catcher Wilson Ramos is not a good receiver and did a terrible job framing this pitch. But both teams had gotten strikes higher than this, and both teams had gotten strikes more outside than this. Proof:

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 5.28.52 PM

The pitch in question is that green square, firmly planted not only within the boundaries of a typical strike zone, but the very zone Carapazza had called for 18 innings. Had this pitch gone for a strike, Belt would have been out. Instead, Belt got one more pitch that resulted in a bat flip and a trot around the bases.

And this isn’t even getting into the two high strikes that led to Cabrera and Williams’ ejections, because those have been covered enough. The 3-1 pitch was definitely high, the 3-2 pitch was borderline. But that at-bat, in the grand scheme of things, didn’t matter all that much.

More important is that Jordan Zimmermann got the outside strike all night until the moment it mattered most. Vic Carapazza’s strike zone suddenly shrunk, costing Zimmermann a shutout and, perhaps, the Nationals a series-tying victory. Two ejections and nine innings later, Carapazza’s zone suddenly shrunk again, extending Brandon Belt’s at-bat and awarding him the opportunity to be a hero.

Sure, Tanner Roark still needs to get Belt out. Sure, maybe if Williams leaves Zimmermann in the game, Panik doesn’t come around to score the tying run. Sure, Ramos didn’t do his team any favors by being a poor receiver. Sure, the Nationals didn’t do themselves any favors by going scoreless for 15 innings. And sure, umpires are human and these things are going to happen. Vic Carapazza didn’t lose this game for the Nationals, they lost it themselves. But Carapazza’s biggest mistakes helped out the Giants in a big way, and the Nationals have every right to be upset about that.



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August used to cover the Indians for MLB and ohio.com, but now he's here and thinks writing these in the third person is weird. So you can reach me on Twitter @AugustFG_ or e-mail at august.fagerstrom@fangraphs.com.


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gump
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gump
1 year 7 months ago

MGL said this during the game but real ump zones are note rectangular. That last picture is evidence of a consistent strike zone, not an inconsistent one.

Orsulakfan
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Orsulakfan
1 year 7 months ago

Yeah, I look at this evidence and I see a decent performance from the ump, certainly when it comes to consistency.

JCCfromDC
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JCCfromDC
1 year 7 months ago

The point is not that he had an accordion zone all night – it’s that he had a fairly consistent zone except in the top of the 9th, when the game hung in the balance. With two outs in a one run game in the 9th inning, he seems to have essentially decided to “swallow his whistle” and decide that he wasn’t going to be the person who determined the game. Except by making that decision, he put a game back in play that shouldn’t have been.

And then again in the 18th, when he gave Belt a mulligan on a pitch that several hitters had already been called out on, which in turn enabled the Giants an free opportunity to ultimately win the game – which they did.

JCCfromDC
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JCCfromDC
1 year 7 months ago

And this isn’t to not give credit to the Giants – they took advantage of the extra opportunities and won the game. Roark didn’t execute the pitch that Belt roasted, and Belt didn’t miss it. Cabrera should not have gotten himself tossed. And if you look at the pitches and locations, the balls that Posey and Sandoval hit to tie the game were good pitches, 95mph and right on the corner. They didn’t try to do to much, just put it in play and were fortunate that they found holes. That’s being a good hitter and putting the ball in play on tough pitches.

But there are certain teams, particularly teams that have been recently successful (Giants, Cardinals, the Yankees during their long playoff run) that get the benefit of the doubt in tight situations. Whether conscious or unconscious, the hesitation to (for example) issue the final punchout doesn’t determine the game, but it keeps the game in play. Which will sometimes results in victories that other teams don’t get. This “human element” is sometimes referred to as a kind of “respect” (“he’s a Hall of Famer, and is going to get that call … “). But for fans of teams/players that aren’t getting that “respect” it’s kind of hard to swallow.

Brandon
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Brandon
1 year 7 months ago

I think this comment is fantastic. The three pitches to Panik were all clearly both down AND out. He gave the outside pitch when they were at the belt, but not at the knees. The first pitch labeled above is really the only one to complain about from the Nats point of view, when compared to the strike call for the Giants in a close place. But even that Giants strike “in the same cluster” is also slightly closer to the plate. I don’t see much here, and I thought at the time those were great calls.

AC_Butcha_AC
Guest
AC_Butcha_AC
1 year 7 months ago

Notice how Ramos drops his head considerably more during the late, not given calls – a habit that Mike Fast famously showed to have a very negative correlation with called strikes. Also, Ramos has a lot of movement and sometimes quick, twitchy motions.
Compare his receiving mechanics to Posey who is considerably more quiet and does not drop his head. A difference like day and night.

Maybe this should have been a Sullivan article about pitch framing?

D
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D
1 year 7 months ago

Looks like those 3 by Zimmerman in the 9th were caught more outside than the previous strikes.

Brandon
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Brandon
1 year 7 months ago

Yeah, just from eyeing the gifs it looks like Zimm’s strikes early in the game catch the plate, whereas Zimm’s in the 9th are just missing the outside corner. The pitches by the Giants are clearly more over the plate than the 9th inning balls.

The Nats didn’t get robbed, the ump actually called an amazing game.

cass
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cass
1 year 7 months ago

Giants fan?

Cool Lester Smooth
Member
Cool Lester Smooth
1 year 7 months ago

Giants fan.

Brandon
Guest
Brandon
1 year 7 months ago

No, I’d actually rather not see the Giants in the World Series. Just calling it like I see it.

FladaYank
Member
FladaYank
1 year 7 months ago

MOTTO: Don’t piss off the umps

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 7 months ago

That’s a stupid motto. It’s also stupid to think the umpire was not being professional.

Hurtlockertwo
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Hurtlockertwo
1 year 7 months ago

You apprently have never seen Cowboy Joe West get out of control.

TKDC
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TKDC
1 year 7 months ago

Joe West changed his name to Vic Carapazza? Why’d he do that?

Chris
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Chris
1 year 7 months ago

Yeah, I’m with some of the others. In half these cases, the narrative description doesn’t really match what we’re seeing in the graphics.

Even the isolated shot of the pitches Belt took are further out than the cluster he had been calling.

Hurtlockertwo
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Hurtlockertwo
1 year 7 months ago

Agreed

channelclemente
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channelclemente
1 year 7 months ago

Saturday was a painful experience for those spending their efforts protecting the pet narrative.

Will
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Will
1 year 7 months ago

As someone who got cold as shit up in the 400-level for an extra 9 innings, I support this message. I wasn’t one of those booing, since I honestly don’t think you can tell crap from the stands (most of them anyway) but this is pretty damn clear. Of course umps are human, Cabrera needs to shut up in a situation that important, and the Nats need to score at least one run over 15 innings, but an altered zone is the worst. Thanks for this analysis.

ajones2522
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ajones2522
1 year 7 months ago

I didn’t watch the game so all I have to go on is the GIF’s and graphs here. Color me entirely unconvinced. In fact, I was impressed with the calls in the GIF’s.

Justin
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Justin
1 year 7 months ago

Your bias is very obvious when you don’t put up the strikezone plot for the Panik at bat. Only one of those pitches was even close, and even that one was very borderline at best.

Alex
Member
Alex
1 year 7 months ago

This game was brutal to watch as a Nats fan, but I don’t think we can really blame anyone but ourselves. One run in 18 innings certainly doesn’t deserve to win very many games. The only emotion I came away with after this game was depression, and the general sadness associated with being a DC sports fan. I just can’t muster up any anger about borderline strike calls after an overall offensive performance that pathetic.

Hurtlockertwo
Guest
Hurtlockertwo
1 year 7 months ago

Thanks for your honesty. As a Giants fan, I’m glad we won the game, but that was painful to watch. I didn’t get the feeling watching it live on TV that the umpire had a bad game. This wasn’t like years of watching Greg Maddux get strikes no one else got.

Josh
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Josh
1 year 7 months ago

Don’t limit yourself, Alex: you can have both opinions. The Nationals’ offense was truly pathetic in Games 1 and 2 and their hitters looked lost at the plate most of the time (especially Ramos and Desmond who, my God, are now what I think of when I think “flailing”). BUT, the ump also was a dog. You don’t have to pick one or the other. And finally, to those who claim to see a difference between pitches that are literally centimeters from one another, and that professional baseball players who have executed and looked at said pitches 1000s of times seem to think (from their movements and reactions) are STRIKES, presumably based on the strike zone until the 9th inning: you are pushing your narrative, unsupported by observable facts, aren’t you? Maybe just a teensy little bit? Yeah?

phoenix2042
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phoenix2042
1 year 7 months ago

Yeah I have to agree with some others on here. The pitches that were called for balls looked like they were just off the corner and the ump did a great job. The ones that went for strikes were definitely an inch closer and caught the plate. I think this is evidence of an incredibly good umpiring job. The only evidence that helped your argument were the 20-10 missed calls that went the giants way. But all the picture evidence looks like that ump was fantastic.

phoenix2042
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phoenix2042
1 year 7 months ago

Also, I say this as someone who is a fan of neither team, but really wanted to the Nats to win. I didn’t watch the whole game, and I am just going off the info here. Why did you not show the strike zone plot of the panik at bat? If those pitches were actually within the typically called zone, that would help your argument enormously. The only reason not to show it, when you showed other, less important ones, is that those pitches were in fact out of the zone and called correctly as balls.

Ray
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Ray
1 year 7 months ago

What are you talking about? Those pitches are going in the same place and getting called differently. This is why the article provided both gifs and charts. Did you see those? “The only evidence that helped your argument were the 20-10 missed calls that went the giants way”. Yeah, just that little thing.

Bobby Ayala
Member
Member
1 year 7 months ago

Can we just have robot umps already? Zimmermann’s gonna remember this for the rest of his life, all because of basic human inconsistency. Think about every sport in the world, how much energy is wasted debating bad calls that affect game outcomes. Every football game is decided by a questionable pass-interference penalty, every soccer match is decided by a questionable free kick, jeez every time a basketball player drives to the hoop they get hit- sometimes it’s called, sometimes it’s not- and it affects games, seasons, careers. We have the technology to map a hyper-accurate and consistent strike zone real-time within a game, let’s do this already.

JCCfromDC
Guest
JCCfromDC
1 year 7 months ago

Some official calls require judgment that aren’t going to easily solved with technology. But the line calls and the strike zone calls could and should. The “human element” in sports should be in the competitors, not in the contest itself.

Scott Marcus
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Scott Marcus
1 year 7 months ago

Totally agree. Just two words to fix things: robo-umps. (Okay, one hyphenated made-up word.)

Robo
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Robo
1 year 7 months ago

For comparison’s sake here’s the plot for Zim vs all lefties.

And here’s Panik’s at bat.

The first and last pitch were more outside than other pitches that Zimmerman had gotten called, but the second pitch definitely looks like it should have been called a strike.

phoenix2042
Guest
phoenix2042
1 year 7 months ago

Is there a way to get that overlay of the typically called strike zone expansion?

Dan Rausch
Member
Dan Rausch
1 year 7 months ago

Thanks for pulling those charts.

I agree – pitch #1 and #5 were not strikes. Pitch #2 had been consistently called a strike most of the night. Eye-balling the pitchF/X chart on the top of the post, I think it was the closest outside pitch that was called a ball all night, and there were at least 4 or 5 other pitches farther outside called for strikes. If it wasn’t the closest, then the 2-2 pitch to Belt that was called a ball was the closest. Both of those pitches could have easily been called a strike and no one would have batted an eye based.

Has anyone looked at Ramos’s framing abilities on outside strikes? It as mentioned in passing that Ramos isn’t a great framer. Is this less of a umpire bias issue than a Posey-vs-Ramos framing ability difference?

channelclemente
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channelclemente
1 year 7 months ago

Good comment, I was wondering about the contribution of framing in what was a pretty average example of pitch framing by the Nationals catcher.

Nivra
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Nivra
1 year 7 months ago

This. Very much this. I can’t believe this isn’t addressed at all.

Jianadaren
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Jianadaren
1 year 7 months ago

Even #2 is a bit borderline. There’s only one pitch farther outside that had been called a strike so while that’s definitely an inconsistency it’s not clear which pitch is wrong – both could conceivably be balls.

vi
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vi
1 year 7 months ago

“Consistency, as an umpire, is giving the same strike zone to both teams. The Giants got 20 called strikes outside the typical strike zone. The Nationals got just 10.” Well, yeah, look at the Giants pitches outside the zone that were called strikes. How many Nationals pitches outside the zone were as close to the zone as those? It’s not like you have Giants’ OOZ strikes and Nationals’ OOZ balls intermingled in the same space. The Giants’ OOZ strikes are actually closer to the zone than are the Nationals’ OOZ strikes.

There is no quota of outside pitches to be called strikes. They need to be at least close. Throw more close pitches, get more strikes. It’s that simple.

“More important is that Jordan Zimmermann got the outside strike all night until the moment it mattered most. Vic Carapazza’s strike zone suddenly shrunk…” Except, uh, it didn’t. One of the nice things about GIFs of pitches is the camera is steady enough that you can put your mouse pointer directly over where the pitch is caught, and then use that as a point of reference relative to the plate for a better understanding of pitch location. The pitches you highlight throughout the game all seem to be right over the outside edge of the plate; the first pitch in the 9th that you claim is the same as those is actually another inch or two outside. Heck, go right back to the strike zone plots and you can see it yourself.

The second pitch to Panik I’ll grant you, in terms of how far outside it was, but it was considerably lower than the others. If you want to complain about the strike zone, it’s worth pointing out that it’s mostly, well, oval. If a pitch is outside, he might call it a strike if it’s not too high or too low. The outside pitches earlier in the game that he granted Zimmermann (and the Giants) were vertically middle. The outside pitches he didn’t grant Zimmermann (and the Giants) were not vertically middle, with maybe one exception – the lone curveball from Hudson that wasn’t put into play, with 13-15 additional inches of horizontal movement (and 8 additional inches of vertical movement) from his other pitches.

If you want to state emphatically that Carapazza was fooled by a Tim Hudson curveball, I have no objection. Other than that pitch, it looks like he had a very consistent, but oval, strike zone.

Kram
Guest
Kram
1 year 7 months ago

Right. The plots clearly show that the Giants threw more pitches very close to the edge of the zone. Entirely explains the 20-10 discrepancy. Doesn’t make any sense to throw the 20-10 number out there without discussing this point.

Jose
Guest
Jose
1 year 7 months ago

The ball isnt called where its caught, specially with the camera angle being a little to the right. Maybe that’s your problem.

skore
Member
skore
1 year 7 months ago

If this were the Brewers and not the Giants, a team with a good receiving reputation (although Posey rates highly as a pitch-framer), no one would be writing these pieces. What was a remarkably good strike zone for almost 18 innings may have missed a couple pitches to good vs. bad framers, Surprise!

#Roboumps
Guest
#Roboumps
1 year 7 months ago

Pitch framing had a lot to do with these calls, but pitchframing wouldn’t matter if we had roboumps! Given the technology available in the world we live in, it’s crazy that we have catchers being lauded for having the ability to trick the umpires.

Jason B
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Jason B
1 year 7 months ago

Really enjoyed the article August. Just one minor quibble–

“perhaps an even bigger moment was Zimmermann’s walk with two outs in the top of the ninth, because if Zimmmermann can retire that batter, Belt’s homer never happens nine innings later.”

That’s…not correct. We have no idea how the next inning would have played out had that one batter’s outcome changed, much less NINE innings later. You can’t simply say “well let’s change this one thing but then assume the next 30 hitters (or whatever) do the exact same thing.” You would have a different set of hitters and circumstances in EVERY inning thereafter, not just skipping ahead to the 18th. I understand the basic point you’re trying to make and it doesn’t hurt the understanding of the overall article, just not an entirely correct statement. Again, really thoughtful and well done piece.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 7 months ago

Wait, I understand what you’re saying now – if the Giants don’t get that walk, then game over. I…I am a dummy. My bad August!

DrBGiantsfan
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

Just going by my own eyeball test, the second pitch to Panik should have been called a strike. Ball 1 and ball 4 were so far outside they were over the chalk of the RH batter’s box!

The ball to Belt was borderline because it may have caught the front of the zone, but 90+% of the time that pitch gets called a ball because it tailed way up and in, so by the time it hit the catcher’s glove it was way out of the zone.

On the Fox TV broadcast, the graphic clearly showed a vertically rectangular zone and the 2 strikes to Cabrera well within it. Why the difference in true zones used by the Fox broadcast and this article?

JCCfromDC
Guest
JCCfromDC
1 year 7 months ago

The point of the article is not that the pitch f/x zone is right, or the Fox TV broadcast is right. The important part is whether the zone is/was consistent. To refute that with the Fox data you’d have to show not just one pitch, but compare pitches in similar locations to see whether they were called similarly.

I can’t speak to the Fox TV broadcast because I was at the game (the whole damned thing, TYVM). But I had several friends who siad that they didn’t use the strike zone graphic much, and the only put it up there when it agreed with the umpire.

channelclemente
Guest
channelclemente
1 year 7 months ago

To really do that, you can’t use this faux zone construction with sharp delineated edges. You have to look at the zone with the probability regions on the edges expressed as Brooks ‘ump card’ used to illustrate them, much as ‘vi says’ put it above.

DrBGiantsfan
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

In the course of the game, I am quite sure all umps make at least 1 or 2 calls on the exact location different than at some other point in the game. If you make a mistake on a call early in the game, does that mean you have to keep making it for the rest of the game? The two pitches that Cabrera and Williams went ballistic on were both strikes according to the graphic strike zone that Fox showed on the broadcast.

ElJimador
Guest
ElJimador
1 year 7 months ago

Of the strike calls selected from earlier in the game the only one that looks similar to the pitches Panik took in the 9th was the 3rd inning pitch to Blanco. That one had a little tailing action and looked like it was caught just off the plate also. The pitches to Crawford and Sandoval are definitely over the plate (and btw I can’t see there that Sandoval had any beef w/that call. Just looks to me like he’s backing out to check the sign from his 3B coach since there’s a runner on 1st).

None of the pitches from Petit had that tailing action either, which I suspect is what the ump was reacting to. They’re aimed at the black but there’s no horizontal break that then runs them off like the Zimmerman pitches to Panik, or Roark’s to Belt.

Not really seeing any inconsistency here.

johnq
Guest
johnq
1 year 7 months ago

Red-Green color blindness is very common. While it doesn’t generally have the drastic effects people imagine, like misreading traffic lights, it does make reading graphs like these incredibly difficult.

Knowing this, why can’t we use different colors for strike zone plots?

We don’t ask for much.

cass
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cass
1 year 7 months ago

Good point. I believe these are form Brooks Baseball. Might want to alert them.

Vslyke
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Vslyke
1 year 7 months ago

As a color blind reader, I support this message.

Anon
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Anon
1 year 7 months ago

From what I see in the graphs and gifs, the text of this article doesn’t have any basis. The called strike zone isn’t rulebook perfect, but it is consistent with very few exceptions. The typical called strike zone is not a rectangle as shown by BrooksBaseball.

If you want to use an article on Fangraphs to gripe about the strike zone, at least make it be a clear case. (ex. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/matt-carpenter-and-a-strike-most-amazing)

Bert
Guest
Bert
1 year 7 months ago

As an umpire if I was reviewing my performance based strictly through what you’ve shown I would consider the 1-0 to Panik a bad miss. Other than that I would be comfortable with all the other calls. just looking at the plot i only see one in zone miss and that was at the very corner, the rest are in the extended parts of the zones. If he had a bunch of in zone misses you could start killing him for the zone, but when almost everything is borderline its a pretty tough to make a case.

the ‘they called this many strikes for team 1 and this many for team 2’ is a pretty bad case to try and build, it just screams of obvious bias by the person saying it. Umps at a advanced level don’t intentionally call things for one team and not the other. Its really a small sample issue, if you had a large enough sample of pitches in that same spot they would likely be pretty even.

Were talking about an inch or fractions of an inch in some cases and at the velocity these pitches come in at its impossible to be 100% accurate. If your set up is slightly different, or you just don’t track one pitch as well for whatever reason it is enough for you to see two exact pitches differently. And when your behind the plate for 18 innings it gets tiring, and maybe you stop being quite as sharp, it happens to the players as well.

If Carapazzas zone was so biased towards one team the game would not have gone 18 innings. Umps don’t get paid by the hour, if the home plate ump was out to intentionally screw the Nats he would have found a way to do so long before the 18th.

KDL
Guest
KDL
1 year 7 months ago

Yes. The thesis of this piece was clearly : Ump screwed the Nats.

Also there need not be intention for a result to be real. Carapazzas doesn’t have to intentionally call 10 extra strikes on the Giants behalf for that not to effect the game.

Final thought: We all bring biases to the table. Maybe before we hint at or blame others for theirs…we, I don’t know, stop and realize we’re an umpire defending umpires and think, I might not be seeing this as clearly as I think I am.

Nit Pickety
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Nit Pickety
1 year 7 months ago

“Drew Storen came on in relief, gave up two consecutive singles, the Giants tied the score at 1-1…”

Sandoval’s hit was scored a double.

Jose
Guest
Jose
1 year 7 months ago

Its funny how many people comment on what they see, when the graphics are there. Horrible calls, makes me wish for robot strike callers that we dress up as umpires.

JCCfromDC
Guest
JCCfromDC
1 year 7 months ago

“What are you going to trust, the data or me?”

tomemos
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tomemos
1 year 7 months ago

But the “data” aren’t indisputable. PitchF/X, for instance, had both of the Asdrubal Cabrera strikes in the 10th as correct calls. Brooks Baseball didn’t. I would have thought the author would have at least mentioned that.

JCCfromDC
Guest
JCCfromDC
1 year 7 months ago

Again, for the larger point it doesn’t really matter whether the pitches were actually within the strike zone box of the tracking mechanism. The point is that pitches in the same place were treated differently, and for whatever reason (including random chance/no reason at all) the outliers fell for one team.

Keeper
Guest
Keeper
1 year 7 months ago

I’ve mentioned this before but in high leverage situations in playoff games, especially in late innings, it seems that umps tend to tighten up the zone that they had been calling all night. Obviously doing any study on this would be considered Small Sample Size bias.

BigBob
Guest
BigBob
1 year 7 months ago

Giants fans, we get it, you don’t want your parade rained or stories about how gritty and clutch your team is complicated. The article doesn’t say that Carapazza was biased or that the Nats weren’t responsible for their own demise. It just demonstrates that Carapazza was pretty inconsistent and that this is frustrating.

Paul
Guest
Paul
1 year 7 months ago

Except there is no demonstration in this article, just some narrative that is not backed up by facts

BigBob
Guest
BigBob
1 year 7 months ago

What are you guys missing? Look at the charts: there are balls and strikes that overlap and contradict each other. The inconsistency isn’t biased and it’s far from the worst we’ve seen, but it’s there.

Paul
Guest
Paul
1 year 7 months ago

It was inconsistent yes and it was inconsisten for both teams and as you say it is far from the worst we have seen. So there is no story here. It is just nick picking and narrative.

tomemos
Guest
tomemos
1 year 7 months ago

But you can’t use “Look at the Brooks charts!” to settle the argument when Brooks Baseball and PitchF/X often disagree, including on key calls in this game.

tomemos
Guest
tomemos
1 year 7 months ago

“The article doesn’t say that Carapazza was biased…”

Oh no?

I sure would hope that a major league umpire in a postseason game would be able to put tension aside and not let bias creep into his decision making, but it’s hard not to consider it a possibility.

You’re right, the article only strongly implies that Carapazza was biased. My bad.

Sam
Guest
Sam
1 year 7 months ago

I don’t think the ump decided at any point that he wanted to intentionally screw the nationals but looking at the strike zone plots, it’s pretty clear that the Giants benefited more from the calls on the whole than the Nats and it particularly key moments. Now maybe that’s Posey/Ramos framing, maybe it’s random, maybe the ump was subconsciously annoyed who knows.

celtic1888
Guest
celtic1888
1 year 7 months ago

‘it’s pretty clear that the Giants benefited more from the calls on the whole than the Nats ‘

Except for the whole 8 2/3rds innings that Zimmermann received an extra couple of inches on the outside of the plate.

Sam
Guest
Sam
1 year 7 months ago

As has been mentioned repeatedly, the Giants had 20 outside the zone strike calls and the Nats had 10, so any advantage on the outside was to both teams, until of course the Panik at bat.

celtic1888
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

There were 485 pitches thrown in the game

Thats not a bad percentage of close calls that were missed and none were completely egregious misses

The Panik 3-2 was clearly a ball

Josh K
Guest
Josh K
1 year 7 months ago

Giants fan here, I agree that the umpiring was flawed. But how much do you think it might have had to do with pitch framing — Posey vs. Ramos?

slothy
Guest
slothy
1 year 7 months ago

This is really well done, August.

tomemos
Guest
tomemos
1 year 7 months ago

PitchF/X had the Strike 2 and Strike 3 calls to Cabrera as strikes, Brooks Baseball had one of them as a ball. There is not one infallible pitch-charting tool, so it’s kind of stretching to write as though the Brooks charts settle the argument.

channelclemente
Guest
channelclemente
1 year 7 months ago

Sort of makes the case for the umpire, doesn’t it.

tomemos
Guest
tomemos
1 year 7 months ago

At the very least it adds reasonable doubt.

arc
Guest
arc
1 year 7 months ago

No. Not even a little. Forget comparing the two. Neither of those tools reflect *internal* consistency. That is the singular issue.

snack man
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

Does anybody know why they disagree?

Scott
Guest
Scott
1 year 7 months ago

Given the amount of articles written on this site regarding pitch framing, I’m disappointed that this article does not seem to consider it a factor in any way. It seems like these types of calls are the ones where pitch framing can be the biggest factor, and to simple run out some zone graphs showing where the pitches crossed is a bit lazy, honestly.

Watching the game, it was clear to me that Posey was helping his pitchers a lot more than Ramos was his. I was actually looking forward to a Sullivan article on this topic, and instead we get some kind of conspiracy theory that attempts to place responsibility for the Nats losing an 18 inning game on a handful of borderline calls by the home plate umpire.

tomemos
Guest
tomemos
1 year 7 months ago

I had the same thought. “Ramos did a terrible job framing this pitch,” the author writes, with no mention of other pitches Ramos may have done a terrible job on. It’s kind of unbelievable that the author spends more words on the possibility that Carapazza may have been using his calls to punish the Nats for questioning him (I thought that’s what the ejections were for) than he does on the possibility that Ramos is largely responsible for any discrepancy.

Haze
Guest
Haze
1 year 7 months ago

This was my initial reaction as well. Even in the GIFs there is very noticeable movement from Ramos pulling each pitch in towards the zone, while Posey is quiet receiving the ball.

arc
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

Lazy? Many commenters are enamored with the use of this word in response to these articles, but there is no basis for the characterization here. It’s a hollow criticism. It’s lazy.

Conspiracy theory? The article explicitly says the Nationals are responsible for the loss – more than once. You have to deliberately ignore and twist the text to produce the descriptions you just have. What motivates this kind of behavior? Certainly not objectivity.

screamin_jay
Guest
screamin_jay
1 year 7 months ago

keep overrating the impact of fake brutal playoff losses that mean nothing when you win four world championships just like that though

The universe
Guest
The universe
1 year 7 months ago

lolwut

steex
Guest
steex
1 year 7 months ago

This is what caught my attention: “The Giants got 20 called strikes outside the typical strike zone. The Nationals got just 10. Look at the right-handed plot. Of the 15 pitches called for strikes outside the typical right-handed strike zone, 12 of them were in favor of the Giants.”

There are, for sure, a few outliers on the RHH plot. However, what caught my attention in terms of raw volume is that the Giants repeatedly painted a just-off-the-plate area that was getting called strikes and there is a complete dearth of Nationals pitches in that zone. There appear to be 11 zone-high Giants pitches off the plate horizontally before you get to the first Nats pitch horizontally. Seven of those eleven were called strikes.

I’m not sure it’s evidence of an agenda on Carapazza’s part that he called some outside pitches but didn’t call further outside pitches. There is a missed called strike for WAS just inside the zone that doesn’t look good, but misses are indeed bound to happen (for good or bad either way).

KJ
Guest
KJ
1 year 7 months ago

Even if the ump did have an inconsistent strike zone the Nationals need to keep their composure. Bryce Harper really should have been ejected even before Cabrera. He got what he thought was a bad call and turned around and screamed at the ump. Cabrera was shown also screaming from the dugout. That generally gets a player ejected during the regular season. Then I guess the ump had had enough when Cabrera also turned around and started barking at him in the next inning. The Nats should be lucky that both players weren’t ejected.

JCCfromDC
Guest
JCCfromDC
1 year 7 months ago

Agreed, certainly with regard to Cabrera. I don’t think Harper’s dissatisfaction merited getting tossed, or even was particularly close to the line – it’s not like he got in the umpire’s face and barked.

And it doesn’t really help to get a reputation for barking at umpires. Some umpires have long memories and are vindictive. Harper’s strike zone is one of the biggest that I’ve ever seen – that 2-2 pitch to Belt is a strike to Harper 95% of the time. Matt Holliday is the same way – he’s the only Cardinal who doesn’t seem to get the benefit of any doubt, and I’ve always suspected it’s because he openly questions umpires.

celtic1888
Guest
celtic1888
1 year 7 months ago

‘it’s not like he got in the umpire’s face and barked.’

ummm… that’s exactly what he did

JCCfromDC
Guest
JCCfromDC
1 year 7 months ago

It didn’t seem that way to me, but then again it happened very quickly and I wasn’t THAT close to him (first couple of rows of the infield gallery behind third base). I didn’t have the advantage of a tight camera shot or replay there.

salvo
Guest
salvo
1 year 7 months ago

I’m missing something here, because based on the dashed line indicating the “typical” strike zone, I’m only seeing 8 pitches total (both teams) outside that typical zone called as strikes to RHH and only one pitch all night outside the typical LHH zone called as a strike.

RoyaleWithCheese
Member
RoyaleWithCheese
1 year 7 months ago

Seems like he’s talking about the rulebook strike zone, but referring to it as the typical strike zone.

NatsFan
Guest
NatsFan
1 year 7 months ago

I hope Carapazza’s wife leaves him for a better man and his children forget his name.

It’s disgusting; the Giants are quickly becoming the Argentina of the World Cup. They’re fans are so obnoxious, all of Latin America (or in our case The United States) root against them to not have deal with them.

As an A’s/Nats fan who lives in the great city of Oakland, I couldn’t stomach another Giants World Series and Giants fans proclaiming how good Sabean and all his Aaron Rowand contract , Barry Zito contract , and half a year of Carlos Beltran for Zach Wheeler clown moves are.

Please baseball gods, stop rewarding the Giants.

Samuel
Member
Samuel
1 year 7 months ago

Giants fans are annoying as a whole. Blasting Sabean for his 3 worst moves is wholly annoying.

Bib
Guest
Bib
1 year 7 months ago

I agree. They should cancel the post-season and play it out on simulation 100 times. Playing the games with real people and limited sample size is unfair.

arc
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

I agree. That’s exactly what he said.

DrBGiantsfan
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

@NatsFan,

OK, you went there. In the spring of 2010, Fangraphs ranked the Giants as the #23 organization in baseball with an even lower ranking for executive decisionmaking. After they won the WS that year, they grudgingly moved them up a couple of notches. If finally got so embarrassing(along with rankings like Mariners #6), that Fangraphs stopped ranking organizations altogether.

Year after year, we read about what in idiot Brian Sabean is and what a genius Billy Beane is. When another favorite Fangraphs whipping boy, Dayton Moore traded 1 prospect for 2 good pitchers to try to win now, he was excoriated on this site, yet when Billy Beane traded the farm, and I mean the ENTIRE farm for that same chance at winning now, he was hailed as a genius. Sabean goes and gets a guy does everything for the Giants that Samardzija and Lester did for the A’s at a fraction of the cost and he’s still, you guessed it, an idiot.

The Giants farm system is rated as one of the weakest in baseball year after year, yet they field a playoff team populated by 14 homegrown players, second only to the Cardinals at 16. Ditto with their drafting.

Last year, of the potential major 3 OF’s available, Sabes signed Pence for by far the best deal. He’s still an idiot!

You don’t like the Giants fans being smug or standing up for their organization? Maybe if sites like Fangraphs gave them an ounce of respect for once we might pipe down.

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 7 months ago

I can kind of agree on Billy Beane getting the benefit of the doubt on this site, and on Dayton Moore being a whipping boy.

But where do you get that Sabean has been a whipping boy or viewed as an idiot? Before the first SF championship, I’d agree with you. But I think the Giants’ success has killed any widespread ridicule of Sabean.

(Just don’t expect him to land on the same pedestal of public opinion as Beane or even Theo Epstein. Not likely any time in the near term future)

DrBGiantsfan
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

Maybe not out and out ridicule, but certainly no props from this site for what Sabean has accomplished.

I do know that his signing of Hunter Pence was panned by Dave Cameron when compared to the Ellsbury and Choo contracts it was a steal. That is just one that comes to mind.

The trades for Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera were at least laughed at and declared losses at the time if not ridiculed outright.

Those are just a few examples I can think of off the top of my head. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t keep a list of slights and tabulate them.

These examples do not get into the general tone of the site which has a strong tendency to belittle Sabean’s accomplishments, but to prove that, I would have to keep a list of every small negative comment and damning with faint praise that came along and I’m not crazy enough to do that.

I’ll just leave it that I am quite sure I am not alone in my opinion about the treatment Fangraphs gives the Giants and a few other organizations(KC would top the list) who don’t appear to buy into the Fangraphs narrative of how organizations should be run.

arc
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

A beautifully predictable retreat to an entirely unfalsifiable claim that a “general tone” exists against the Giants. You are so full of shit.

And no, “popular belief” is not that you keep a list of anything. To the extent that there is any popular belief about you, it’s that you eschew any such objective data in favor of the same indefensible garbage you just backpedaled to here when questioned. You’re forever lost in your own nonsense – and mad at other people about it.

All that laughter you’re hearing isn’t at Sabean. It’s at you.

DrBGiantsfan
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

It’s not a backpeddle. I gave several specific examples. I stand my my comments. I will retract them when I read one of the regular contributors on this site write a piece on how Brian Sabean is is one of the best GM’s in the game making way more good moves than bad ones and is responsible for building a team that won 2 WS in 3 seasons and went to the postseason 3 times in 5.

arc
Guest
arc
1 year 7 months ago

“I gave several specific examples. I stand my my comments.”

Because you’re a delusional half-wit and a liar. I balked at the claim that you gave specific examples, so went back and saw you named Pence, Cabrera, and Pagan as trades that were “at least laughed at and declared losses at the time”.

I don’t want to validate the idea that those could even pass as credible evidence in the first place, but wanted to at least run a quick test to see just how full of shit you were. Googled “Angel Pagan trade fangraphs” Found this:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/angel-pagan-heads-to-san-francisco/

The conclusion of which is as follows:

The addition of Pagan gives the Giants a real center fielder with a semi-reliable bat, something their roster sorely lacked in 2010. It allows them to play Melky Cabrera at a position more suiting to his glove as well, as the prospect of him sprinting after balls in the cavernous AT&T Park outfield is a gloomy one. Pagan’s acquisition was not a sexy trade by any means, but the Giants added another useful piece

In other words, you are again a huge fucking liar. The very first one of the “several” specific examples you gave not only fails to support your narrative but actively contradicts it.

None of this concrete evidence will change your position at all because, again, you’re a delusional half-wit beholden to his biases. But it’s yet another brick in the wall of your laughable legacy.

arc
Guest
arc
1 year 7 months ago

Holy shit, the Melky article defends the Giants as well.

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/which-melky-cabrera-will-san-francisco-get/

And here is Dave Cameron himself, in the comments section:

+2 to +3 win players cost upwards of $10 million in the free agent market. Cabrera will make $3 to $4 million, a fraction of what he’s actually likely to be worth.

And yet, for whatever reason, a lot of people apparently believe this is a bad acquisition by the Giants. Jack’s right – if you divorce yourself from the tired and incorrect “Melky Cabrera sucks” narrative, the Giants just got a nice underpaid player.

You are such a fucking joke. Never post again.

arc
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

God you people are insufferable – and dishonest.

The last thing I want to do is say something that will make you talk more, but i can’t resist pointing out your obvious lie that Shields and Davis were acquired for “one prospect”. The “one prospect” was arguably the best in the game and he came with Jake Odorizzi, a top-100 prospect and the Royals second best. Odorizzi put up 2 WAR in this, his first season.

You didn’t forget. You lied. You are so committed to your persecution complex and associated narratives that no deceptive rhetoric, no abuse of retrospective finger-paint analysis is beneath you.

Thank you, though, for – heroically – continuing to come to fangraphs every single day to publicly piss yourself over the grand conspiracy against the Giants. You’re an inspiration to charlatans everywhere.

DrBGiantsfan
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

The point still stands that Billy Beane made exactly the same move as Dayton Moore for exactly the same reasons and gave up way more. Beane’s gutting of he farm system was pronounced a good move here, while Moore was excoriated over and over.

William
Member
William
1 year 7 months ago

While the pitches were all close, Posey was clearly the superior framer as his glove didn’t move one bit. Ramos, on the other hand, looked down (which I believe has been identified as a surefire way to get a ball) on three of the four balls thrown to panik.

Samuel
Member
Samuel
1 year 7 months ago

2014 Pitch framing stats via statcorner. min 5000 pitches
Ranks (out of 32 qualified catchers)

zBall%
Posey 10.2 (t-2nd)
Ramos 12.7 (t-18th)

oSTR%
Posey 8.9 (8th)
Ramos 7.0 (22nd)

PerGame
Posey 1.41 (7th)
Ramos -.26 (19th)

RAA
Posey 17.7 (6th)
Ramos -2.6 (19th)

Posey grades out as top 10 in every single measure they use to quantify pitch framing. Ramos fails to grade place in the top half in any of them. If you decrease the sample size of pitches for qualifying catchers Posey starts to look better and Ramos starts to look worse.

Maybe MLB would be better with robots calling games but when I was coached as a catcher one of the skills they emphasized was a “quiet” glove before, during and after the act of receiving the pitch. It was a skill I worked hard at and took a lot of pride in converting fringe calls into strikes. For all I know I could have been the very worst catcher in the league at this, but maybe I wasn’t.

August I think you might be taking a little flak for this article because you’re being nitpicky in your critique (In a 127 PA game!!!!) while validating it by saying it was the highest leveraged AB of the game, which is true. You titled the article “the Washington Nationals vs Vic Carapazza” which to me is the worst part of the piece. Instead of acknowledging an at least partly quantifiable skill to back up your narrative, you chose to lampoon an umpire in his first postseason game basically for being human. This is not a bad article but I do hope the next one is better.

Alex Dodd
Guest
Alex Dodd
1 year 7 months ago

I agree with what seems to be the consensus down here, and am in no way biased regarding either team. The GIFs seem to, for the most part, agree with the calls and follow along with the typical oval strike zone of Major League umps. The pitches shown earlier in the game look to the naked eye to be better received or actually catching more of the plate than the ones to Panik in the 9th or that high ball to Belt in the 18th.
There also seems to be some selection bias here. I would be willing to bet you could find two GIFs of Nationals’ pitchers getting outside edge pitches called for strikes in extra innings if you were looking for it.
Not that this matters much regarding this article, but more as an aside, there was an article on JABO regarding Matt Williams’ decision to pull Zimmerman and references one of the signs of pitcher fatigue being visible frustration with not getting calls. While we don’t know what was going through Zimmerman’s head at the time, this is easily as believable a narrative as the one you’ve presented, and could be considered an explanation if entertaining the argument that umpire was not *as* in the wrong on a lot of these calls as you argue about.

Alex Dodd
Guest
Alex Dodd
1 year 7 months ago

I do generally love your work, though, August.

screamin_jay
Guest
screamin_jay
1 year 7 months ago

yes nats fans, keep nitpicking meaningless shit about your players when two of the most highly regarded young players on the mets are complete garbage baseball players

The universe
Guest
The universe
1 year 7 months ago

again…lolwut

sam
Guest
sam
1 year 7 months ago

great article+analysis. Giants supporters can say whatever they want but it’s clear that there were some unfortunate calls that hurt the nats more. I do wonder if part of the deal with Panik is an aversion to end the game on a called strike 3, it would be interesting to see some analysis of whether the zone shrinks when the game is one out from completion.

Juan-John
Guest
Juan-John
1 year 7 months ago

Anybody know what the gambling lines were for this game?

Samuel
Member
Samuel
1 year 7 months ago

WSH SU -209
WSH -1.5 +106
O/U 7

DC
Guest
DC
1 year 7 months ago
Jimmy
Guest
Jimmy
1 year 7 months ago

Eat your heart out, Zapruder.

This will only make it sweeter when we rip of 3 in a row….

DC
Guest
DC
1 year 7 months ago

Good job. Couple of notes:

The pitches to Sandoval in the first and Crawford in the 5th were both strikes in PITCHf/x.

You have the sequence in the 9th wrong; the 2nd pitch to Panik was closer to the edge of the plate than the 1st.

Oh yeah, and you can’t trust the top and bottom of the strike zone on brooks. But that’s for another day.

Samuel
Member
Samuel
1 year 7 months ago

“Oh yeah, and you can’t trust the top and bottom of the strike zone on brooks. But that’s for another day.”

! I have not heard this before but I did notice the difference between brooks and pitchf/x at the top of the zone for the first time this game. Have you read about this or is this personal insight?

DC
Guest
DC
1 year 7 months ago

I haven’t yet seen the data (working on it), but I’ve read that PITCHf/x includes a top and bottom edge height for each batter based on an operator’s assessment. This is what Fox based their pitch track on for the 2nd strike in the 10th. This is a little problematic, however, as operators’ assessments of strike zones vary. In the first few years of data, it varies A LOT. Don’t know about today.

Brooks’ is more problematic; it has a fixed strike zone box that never changes, regardless of the batter’s height/stance. And it’s much smaller than the rulebook zone; I believe I read that it’s set based on what umpires typically call, like the dashed line for left/right edge.

I’m 6′ tall, which is below average for major leaguers, and my strike zone by rule would start at about 18″ from the ground. Brooks has it starting at about 21″ (eyeballing, haven’t looked hard for the actual answer). So lots of those strikes that are out of the zone low on Brooks actually are strikes.

The game-long strike zone plots can’t be used to judge top/bottom accuracy because there’s no adjustment for batters’ various heights/stances; Brooks believes (correctly) that umps don’t adjust their called zone that much for different batters. But that’s beside the point when we’re trying to assess umpires’ ability to call the zone.

celtic1888
Guest
celtic1888
1 year 7 months ago

No matter what the strike zone is there is no excuse for Cabrera’s behavior and subsequent ejection.

You cannot argue a called 3rd strike like that and expect to stay in the game

MW
Guest
MW
1 year 7 months ago

Asdrubal was tossed before he barely got a word out – throwing your bat and helmet at the ump’s feet is pretty much an automatic heave-ho.

celtic1888
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

485 pitches thrown by both teams and the reason the Nats lost was because of a borderline 2-0 pitch was called a ball to Panik? and somehow the HP umpire was partially responsible for it?

How about don’t throw Panik ball 1 and ball 2 to start the AB?

You are REALLY stretching for something here

Jeff in Alameda
Guest
Jeff in Alameda
1 year 7 months ago

I live in the Bay Area, and there are few things to dislike more than smug Giants fans. That said, those pitches to Panik are borderline pitches at best and frankly all look like they should be called Balls.

celtic1888
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

> live in the Bay Area, and there are few things to dislike more than smug Giants fans.

Whingy A’s Fans?

JCCfromDC
Guest
JCCfromDC
1 year 7 months ago

Again, it’s not that they were strikes or weren’t strikes – it’s whether the zone was called consistently. As a pitcher or hitter all you want is consistency. Let us know what your zone is, and stick with it. Don’t change it suddenly in a crucial situation.

ElJimador
Guest
ElJimador
1 year 7 months ago

How about consistency within the same AB? Zimmerman kept trying to nail the same spot vs. Panik after the first one was called a ball. Does he really think the ump is going to call a pitch a strike when he just called the previous one in the same location a ball? Same thing with Cabrera’s AB. To me strike 2 looked like a ball high and away but once the ump called it how can Cabrera blame anyone but himself for not swinging at the next pitch in a slightly better location than the previous one?

You have to be willing to make adjustments to the calls you’re getting and in those key spots the Nationals didn’t do that.

John C.
Guest
John C.
1 year 7 months ago

But when do you make adjustments to what seems to be an inconsistency from what has been the zone all day, and when do you decide that this zone is the “new normal?”

Tim
Guest
Tim
1 year 7 months ago

“Does he really think the ump is going to call a pitch a strike when he just called the previous one in the same location a ball?”

This is very funny now.

DC
Guest
DC
1 year 7 months ago

You forgot one very important vine:

http://vine.co/v/OK1mIOUeqKp

brendan
Guest
brendan
1 year 7 months ago

” The Giants got 20 called strikes outside the typical strike zone. The Nationals got just 10.”

I think this overstates things a bit. in the plots, I see more SF pitches near the boundary. yes, there are more strikes for SF, but there are not any WAS pitches in the same proximity to the zone. I’m talking about the pitches just off the outside to RHH and LHH both. it’s all triangles there.

Green Mountain Boy
Guest
Green Mountain Boy
1 year 7 months ago

Did I miss something? Did this series end Saturday night? Did the Giants not come back from 0-2 down to Cincinnati just a couple years ago? Come on, Nats fans, quit whining!

To address one other point someone made, that the Giants’ farm system sucks. Apparently not, with 14 home-grown players on their roster. Or maybe it shows that Bruce Bochy is one hell of a manager and puts his players in the best position for them to succeed. He HAS managed 2 of the last 4 World Series Champions.

DrBGiantsfan
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

Agreed that this thing ain’t over, especially after today’s game. The Nationals are the most talented team in the postseason and it’s not particularly close. They easily have the resources to come back and win the next two making it 3 in a row and a comeback series win.

LD303
Guest
LD303
1 year 7 months ago

If you’re here to argue against the premise of the post, and your main point is “well, the strike zone is actually an oval,” you have already lost the argument.

Bert
Guest
Bert
1 year 7 months ago

The post on instagraphs about the strike zone is very good. When looking at all the umpire plot Carrapazza probably had the best strike zone in the postseason so far!

Noah Baron
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

This whole article could have been avoided simply by knowing that Buster Posey is an above average framer and Wilson Ramos is a below average framer. The gifs make this fact obvious.

philosofool
Guest
philosofool
1 year 7 months ago

The whole article could have been avoided by using a reliable method for calling balls and strikes too.

Adam
Guest
Adam
1 year 7 months ago

How did you pull these charts? Would like to see something like this on the Dodger-Cards game tonight. The ump was all over the place with the strike zone in that one.

Adam
Guest
Adam
1 year 7 months ago

This is one of the worst articles I’ve seen on here in a long time, and I HATE the Giants and also hate strike zone inconsistency. But when I look at the strike zone plots I see a very consistent zone, above average for sure and watching the game live I had no disagreements whatsoever (compare that to tonight’s Dodgers-Cardinals zone. That was a mess).

The headline is ridiculous, and as many people here have mentioned, there’s absolutely no mention of pitch framing (almost certainly a huge part of the discrepancy), there’s no consideration that brooks baseball and pitchfx have different zones and that this is merely an approximation. Nor did you look at the distribution of pitches thrown by each team. Nope, just had a hypothesis and stuck to it instead of you know, positing alternative theories.

This is writing an article and using data to fit a preconceived narrative and to pander to a pissed off fanbase. To imply bias and causality over 2 or 3 very close calls (we’re talking about 1/2 inch of a difference here!) is utterly ludicrous and totally unprofessional. It discredits both the Giants and the Nationals and the FANTASTIC 18 innings of baseball that happened. It was one of the best postseason games ever and we get this piece of trash, poorly conceived and poorly researched article about the umpire “missing” calls (barely, if at all).

You can do better, Fangraphs.

Adam
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Adam
1 year 7 months ago

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/instagraphs/the-postseason-strike-zone-thus-far-vizualized/

Hmmm. Vic Carapazza’s zone looks way better and different on this post. Maybe you could have, I don’t know, consulted multiple data points? But nope, just decided that the game went the way it did because of the ump and decided to write an article about it.

Yes, this article pissed me off. It’s lazy. And not deserving to be on a site that usually does such excellent work.

FIP'n good
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FIP'n good
1 year 7 months ago

I had the gamecast on during the game as I always do, and I know those lack accuracy but it was one of the worst called games I have ever seen. Balls called right over the middle of the plate and strikes elsewhere. Strikes outside then balls over the middle. It was awful!! Then the game today was just as bad!

DC
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DC
1 year 7 months ago

The Nats-Giants Game 3 zone was far worse.

Prof in Statistics
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Prof in Statistics
1 year 7 months ago

Your data proved the UMP was consistent! The UMP was within 1 standard deviation based on the data you provided. Just do the math, the number never lies.

Your analysis was flawed, and perhaps bias made you reach an incorrect conclusion. Your analysis is a perfect example of a saying Mark Twain make popular “Lies, damned lies, and statistics”.

John
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John
1 year 7 months ago

Thanks, I really appreciate this analysis. I’m amazed by the comments. I think some of the data is a little difficult to take in. But look at the topmost charts, and focus on the red-triangles outside the dotted box, and the green-squares inside the dotted box. This is a decent visualization of what was frustrating the Nationals players and fans.

I wonder if there isn’t a better way to visualize this, maybe by creating different graphs for each team and overlaying them? Not sure.

Anyway, thanks for synthesizing this data. The comments reflect that most folks have a need to placate authority. But it’s pretty clear that Carapazza did not call the game effectively. If this data exists in real-time, it should be used to hepl the refs call the game in real-time.

BigLarry
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BigLarry
1 year 7 months ago

I just found this site because I was bored with no baseball on and I wanted to see if anyone was talking about how the Nats got robbed in that game. I’ve watched a lot of baseball, and those were bad calls. It was obvious. Cost them the game. And I am objective with maybe a slight preference for the Giants. Ninth inning, home team pitching to keep the one run lead…hitters never get those calls. That was bad umping.

Andrew Johnson
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Andrew Johnson
1 year 7 months ago

The strike zone is not a rectangle! It is 3D.

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