Monday, June 06, 2011

New York Yankees @ Anaheim: High and Tight or Right and Wrong?

On the average, umpires are 90% accurate in calling balls and strikes. This means on the average, 30+ pitches are called incorrectly during Major League Baseball games. MLB Umpires have been found to consistently call a strike zone that is not defined by the MLB Rulebook.

Mike Estabrook was the Home Plate umpire for tonight's game, the New York Yankees at Anaheim. The rookie Ivan Nova versus the accomplished ace veteran starter, Jered Weaver.

As some may not know, MLB actually "grade," their umpires. Mike Estabrook's stats as Home Plate umpire are interesting, to say the least. Of his officiating at Home Plate, 75% of the time he will call a "strike," where the ball is clearly above the strike zone. Conversely; Only 25% of pitches located below the strike zone will be called "strikes."

In just 4 games Estabrook has officiated as Home Plate umpire in 2011, he has observed an average of 9.5 runs per game, while only issuing 5.5 walks. However, his "SOPG," or "strike outs per game," is one of the highest in the league at an average: 15.5.

Ivan Nova, encountered this challenge of Estabrook's 75% bias of "shoulder high pitches must be thrown in order to have them called for strikes," in the 1st inning. Achieving one out, Aybar singled off of a fastball thrown by the rookie. Nova then logged a "wild pitch," with Abreu at-bat, advancing Aybar to 2nd. Unfortunately, Abreu doubled off Nova after 5 pitches, sending Aybar home. Then we encounter a "passed ball," by Russell Martin, advancing Abreu to 3rd. Well, what the hell?? Now's a good time to walk someone, eh? Why not Torii Hunter? With only 1 out, perhaps we can force the double play. And that's about when Homeplate Umpire Estabrook began to get creative with the strike zone. With 2 pitches, the damage was done...

Skip ahead to the 4th inning. Branyan singles on a curveball straight over the plate, Trumbo also had his eye on that curveball that he finally received on the 5th pitch, landing both Branyan on 2nd and Trumbo on 1st. Nova then chose to stick with all fastballs with Mathis' at-bat, but no matter where he threw them, it seems Estabrook believed bases should be loaded...

Borjous came up to bat, he singled, Branyan scored, and I believe the trainwreck could have been far worse had batters like Izturis not struck out, popped out, or flied out. Because of Ivan Nova's 2 whole strike outs, I don't believe 1 of them were a Called Third Strike. Damn it, huh, Estabrook?

Weaver, on the other hand, did a fabulous job at pitching above the belt and logged 8Strike Outs, in addition to the bullpen's 3. I have no idea how many were "Called Strike Outs," but then again, I don't give a shit. Just take a look at Weavers pitching pfx for the game. The green dots are deemed BALLS and the red are CALLED STRIKES or deemed strikes via fouls or swinging strikes.

Poor officiating has ruined many otherwise amazing opportunities in Major League Baseball games. Rarely are these "mistakes," ever mentioned, however. Just another loss. Just another win.

...Unless your name just so happens to be Jim Joyce or Armando Galarraga.