How awful was the strike zone Sunday?

How awful was the strike zone Sunday?
The bat boy seems to think you've just got to accept that there will always be a margin of error // José M. Osorio, Chicago Tribune

The White Sox dropped their 1st half finale largely due to struggles to keep the ball in the yard.  They rationalized that Dylan Axelrod on short rest was their best contingency option–not necessarily wrong, but certainly unflattering–and were punished for the selection.

Despite holding on to their best cards, the Sox nearly rallied back, but ultimately fell 11-9, no doubt brought on by issuing nine walks to Jays hitters, and their offense striking out 14 times.  There were some issues with the balance of balls and strikes, clearly.

Robin Ventura exploded (!) in the 9th at home plate umpire DJ Reyburn after Hector Santiago didn’t get a call on the inside corner, and Alex Rios acknowledged issues with the strike zone as much as he could while avoiding a suspension post-game.

That, along with some of the at-the-plate reactions from Alejandro De Aza, Adam Dunn, and Alex Rios are as telling indicators of Reyburn’s inconsistency, and wide zone as anything.

From a result standpoint, the Sox bullpen is stocked with live, wild arms and a big walk day might not raise eyebrows, but Gordon Beckham and De Aza striking out looking might, as well as the Alex Rios’ at-bat in the 3rd (took two pitches on the outside, grimaced, then swung through a third).

In sum, the strike zone was probably flawed.  It certainly looked like it to the naked eye during the game, while the forces of bias were at their mightiest.

The Pitch F/X system has a margin of error, and is dependent on the precision of camera placement, but it’s definitely unbiased.  As reliable as Robin Ventura’s judicious expulsions of rage might be, this table breaking down the missed calls according to Pitch F/X is still informative.

‘Strikes Given’ refers to pitches out of the zone Reyburn called strikes, ‘Strikes Taken’ refers to pitches in the zone called balls.

It’d be hard to make a very strong case that the White Sox got specifically jobbed, but there was more than enough inconsistency around the very wide corners Reyburn maintained to draw ire.

The timing for the mistakes also seemed particularly arranged to set Robin off, as the Jays closer Janssen got a low strike that hadn’t been available all day and a generous corner, right around the same time Santiago was getting squeezed.  There were plenty of scoring opportunities the Sox blew on their own, but there’s a sense of satisfaction in making one’s own bed that Reyburn might have taken.

Of course, provided it was off the record, Robin could have probably told you all of this.


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  • I had posted a link on a Cubs board on a study whether PitchTrax is accurate, but it was too geeky for me to bother again.

    The real issue is even if Toronto got the Tom Glavine strike zone, Axelrod was no where close, putting the Sox down 4-0 in the 1st, and not getting any better after that.

    Not to mention Septimo letting Rajai (Rongey) Davis steal 2 bases without any attention, and then wild pitching him in to score.

    This just hit me as another Sunday game of many the White Sox figured they could throw away.

  • The in-game pitch trax and Brooks Baseball systems might be different, I'm not sure. Sox definitely played the game with a hand behind their back, but it all comes down to whether you think the cause was worth it.

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