To complain about umpires has become taboo. Any criticism of officiating in baseball is immediately dismissed as “sour-grapes,” from “homers” who aren’t viewing the game objectively. And 99% of the the time, that’s absolutely true. Still, we shouldn’t overlook the impact of poor officiating. With no real replay to speak of, MLB umpires often determine the outcome of a game, with no accountability.
Recently, our Redlegs have played poorly. By no means is this an attempt to blame all of the Reds’ recent woes on umpires. Instead, a closer look might provide some insight on how the umpires have negatively impacted the Reds’ chances of winning some big games.
*The charts you are about to see are courtesy of Brooks-Baseball.net. The information is compiled using a system known as “PitchFX.” If you are unfamiliar with PitchFX, please click here to learn more.
May 25 – Halladay vs. Wood
Yes, this was the painful 19 inning loss. But perhaps the Reds could’ve won this game in regulation, had the starting pitchers been provided the same strike zone.
Here was the strike zone for Roy Halladay:
As you can see, Halladay benefitted from 7 called strikes on pitches clearly outside of the strike zone. Two of those called strikes were more than a foot outside the strike zone. Conversely, only 3 pitches clearly inside the strike zone were called balls.
Here was the strike zone for Travis Wood:
Wood benefitted from 3 called strikes on pitches clearly outside the strike zone. All 3 of those pitches were within a foot of the strike zone. Conversely, Wood threw 6 pitches clearly in the strike zone that were called balls.
Hallday – 7 calls helped, 3 calls hurt = plus 4 ratio
Wood – 3 calls helped, 6 calls hurt = minus 3 ratio
“Insignificant,” you may say, and you would be wrong. Such an imbalance affects the game, regardless of when the bad calls occurred. Looking at certain key situations, the poor officiating is even more painful.
In the 4th inning, the Reds had runners on 1st and 3rd with one out, Edgar Renteria at the plate, and Travis Wood on deck. Renteria was called out on strikes and Wood grounded out to end the scoring threat.
Here are the pitches Renteria saw:
The called 3rd strike came on the 4th pitch, and was nearly 6 inches off the plate. Renteria should have seen at least one more pitch. Would he have done anything with it? Who knows, but in that situation, it sure would’ve been nice to know – especially considering a simple fly ball would have scored a run.
In the first inning, Ben Francisco hit a solo home run on a 3-2 pitch. But he shouldn’t have been hitting with a full count.
Here are the pitches Francisco saw:
The first pitch should have been called a strike. The entire complexion of the at-bat changes after a first-pitch strike. Additionally, 2 of the next 3 pitches were strikes.
There’s no guarantee that the Reds win if they were afforded the same strike zone as the Phillies, but it certainly makes the loss a little tougher to swallow. A guy like Halladay is hard enough as it is. And no, being a “great pitcher” doesn’t grant you a bigger strike zone, or at least it shouldn’t. A pitch that crosses the plate in the strike zone should be called a strike, regardless of who threw the pitch.
Tomorrow we’ll look at more umpire misgivings by examining the Reds’ 12 inning loss to Atlanta on Saturday.
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