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Entries in called third strike (2)


Striking Out on Balls

Strikeouts are the worst.

They are better than double plays, in that, they only account for a single out.  But there is something deflating about strikeouts.

Something very, I don't know, "Charlie Brown getting fooled by Lucy while trying to kick a field goal" about it. And, of course, there can't just be one way to strike out. There has to be numerous ways to get rung up by the home plate umpire. The worst of which, has to be striking out looking. 

I have analogies and puns for days with regards to the ol' "backwards 'K'," but let's just agree that striking out looking makes you, probably, want to crawl under home plate and disappear. Then we can skip all the nonsense.

But what if a hitter strikes out looking, and, it's not his fault? 

Granted, if a hitter has two strikes on him, he should be protecting the plate. You are taught this as a young player. "Anything close. Swing." But that doesn't change the fact that the pitch was a ball. Or the fact that it was probably Angel Hernandez behind the plate

So far this season, there have been 2,045 strikeouts that have been both "looking," and on a pitch that is considered out of the strike zone. Which pitcher has the most?

Out of Zone Punch Outs

David Price (TB) 23
Max Scherzer (DET) 19
Cliff Lee (PHI) 18
Mike Minor (ATL) 17
Jeff Locke (PIT) 17
James Shields (KC) 17
Hyun-jin Ryu (LAD) 17
Eric Stults (SD) 17
Adam Wainwright (STL) 17
Matt Cain (SF) 16


David Price, come on down.

You are the winner of the "Your check's in the mail, Mr. Ump" award. 

All of these pitchers, except for Jeff Locke, are considered "strike-throwers."

Does that mean that they are getting the benefit of the doubt from the umpire?

Maybe. But when you are facing Cliff Lee and his 70.8% strike-rate, expect the ball to be over the plate. 

But Jeff Locke? Really?

On the flip-side of this coin, which hitters are falling prey to this phenomenon occurence the most?

Out of Zone Punched Out

Matt Carpenter (STL) 15
Ian Desmond (WSH) 15
James Loney (TB) 15
Chris Davis (BAL) 14
Shin-Soo Choo (CIN) 13
Nick Swisher (CLE) 12
Evan Longoria (TB) 12
Chris Carter (HOU) 12
Trevor Plouffe (MIN) 11
Prince Fielder (DET) 11


Looks like Matt Carpenter and Ian Desmond should probably start walking up to the plate with egifts for the men in blue. And no one should be surprised to see Chris Carter on this list. He just strikes out a lot with his  K-Rate of 37.4% this season.

But, Joey Votto has struck out looking on a pitch off the plate eight times this season. Who do these umpires think they are?

All told, those 2,045 strikeouts, account for 6.6% of 30,770 strikeouts this season. Not exactly an overwhelming percentage, and something that umpires should point to and say: "We're right 93.4% of the time."

But with replay getting expanded next year, and the constant cry for an automated strike zone, 93.4% of the time, might not be good enough for baseball fans. 


The So "called" Strike

Earlier this week Jonathan Scippa highlighted pitchers that appear to be getting "squeezed" based on MLB Pitch f/x pitch location data. Now let's take a quick look at hitters that appear to be hindered by "strike calls" when taking pitches outside the zone.

While Daric Barton has had the most "balls" called "strikes", Ike Davis (NYM) has been impacted the most with 9 pitches outside the zone resulting in strike outs. Other hitters hurt by the called third strike looking include Mark Teixeira (6), Stephen Drew (6), Brett Gardner (5) and Adrian Gonzalez (5).

We will keep an eye on this as the season progresses and the sample size becomes a bit more statistically relevant.