Jon Hale

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Jose vs. The Umps

Kansas City Royals v Toronto Blue Jays

Jose Bautista: whiner or victim? Obviously it looks bad when he’s constantly complaining, especially when he gets one wrong and melts down on national TV. But he’s got a pretty good eye and doesn’t seem like a delusional egomaniac, so in the long run is he right more often than not, or has his rise to stardom blinded him to the fact that he gets good and bad calls just like everyone else?

An article was written in the Star a while back where they used some ¬†umpire data and came to the conclusion that Bautista had gotten “20 more incorrect strike calls” since 2010, but there are some problems with such a surface analysis:

a) If you go by the rulebook strike zone, everyone gets a ton of “incorrect” strikes because the zone bulges out at the belt. As a power hitter, Bautista takes more pitches than the average hitter, and as a good one he is going to see a lot more pitches on the fringe of the strike zone. If you don’t adjust for how the zone is actually called, it will appear as if a quality power hitter is getting more bad calls than he actually is.

b) Extra strikes are only part of the picture. What if he also had 40 more incorrect ball calls over that time? It would be a sign of particularly erratic umpiring, not a bias against or in his favour.

c) The zone shrinks and expands by the count, so if a hitter is pitched carefully and winds up in a lot of 3-0, 3-1 counts, he will see a larger zone, but not any worse than other players when in those counts.

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