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Entries in Texas Rangers (77)


Who is getting Squeezed?

Time to check in on which pitchers aren't getting the close calls from umpires:

(ClStk%=called strikes/pitches taken; Data based on PitchFX strike zone.)C.J. Wilson (TEX) ranks number one in terms of the most pitches called balls in the strike zone with 124.  But this is due to volume; Wilson has thrown the second most pitches within the strike zone in the majors this season behind only Cliff Lee (PHI)

Doug Fister (SEA) and Cliff Lee rank second and third in most missed strikes with 114 and 108 respectively.  Chad Billingsley (LAD) comes in 4th with 107 missed strikes - combine that with his overall 17th ranking in lowest called strike percentage in the zone, and he's a good candidate for the most squeezed pitcher in baseball this season.


Which Pitchers are Really Getting Squeezed?

Earlier in the week we took a look at which pitchers have been squeezed the most based on total pitches called balls within the PitchFX established strike zone.  While it appeared that pitchers like C.J. Wilson (TEX) and Jon Niese (NYM) have been getting a tight strike zone, the truth is that these pitchers tend to stay around the strikezone with the majority of their pitches.  In fact, C.J. Wilson leads the league in called strikes within the strike zone:

(Data from all 2011 games through May 10th)

So in reality, while pitchers like Wilson do lose a lot of called strikes on the borders, it's mostly a product of the volume of pitches they locate there.  In fact, through Tuesday, Wilson was leading all pitchers in total called strikes, regardless of location, with 194.

If we really want to see which pitchers have had a tough time getting calls from umps, we need to look at the percentage of called strikes out of all taken pitches within the strike zone.

 (Data from all 2011 games through May 10th - Min. 40 taken pitches in the strike zone)

Wilson still cracks the top 50, but he's far from the most squeezed pitcher in the league.  Mariners' closer Brandon League is not getting the majority of close calls so far this season.  The league average for called strikes in the PitchFX defined strike zone has been around 77%, meaning umpires have called 23% of pitches in the zone balls.  Of course, the majority of these are borderline pitches as the following graphic shows:

All MLB Called Balls in Strike Zone
(Click to enlarge)

League's missed strikes consist of 18 pitches, the majority of which were thrown to the bottom of the zone.  Batters have taken only 42 total strike zone pitches against him, so his "squeeze rate" is mostly a product of small sample size.  However, when we filter the list down to starters....

(Data from all 2011 games through May 10th)

Among starters, Wilson and Niese still near the top of the list of pitchers getting squeezed. And perhaps Nelson Figueroa would still be pitching in Houston if we had robot umpires.

So we've seen which pitchers have not gotten the majority of close calls so far this season.  In an upcoming post, we'll look at pitchers that have benefited most from expanded strike zones.


Most Squeezed Pitchers

Most Called Balls within Strike Zone
(Data through May 8th)

C.J Wilson (TEX) has had a tough time with close pitches this season. According to PitchFX data, 59 pitches thrown by Wilson could have been called strikes but were not. Four of these pitches came with three balls, resulting in a walk.

Wilson's heat map indicates that the majority of these called balls were on pitches low in the zone.

C.J. Wilson Called Balls in Strike Zone 2011
(Click to enlarge)

Umpires tend to have a tougher time consistently calling pitches on the top and bottom of the zone due to the fact that player height slightly alters the zone. Wilson typically locates the majority of his pitches low in the zone, so it's not that surprising to find him near the top of this list.

It's one thing to lose a strike in the middle of a count. However, it hurts a bit more when the missed call comes with two strikes. Here are the leaders for missed called strikes with two strikes on the batter.

Called Balls in Strike Zone w/ Two Strikes
(Data through May 8th)

Basically, these pitchers missed a chance at notching a strike out looking. Of course, they could have still gotten the K later in the AB. However, the walk column shows how many times they missed a K with a full count. Instead of gaining an out, the missed call resulted in a free base for the opposing team. And in case you're wondering, two players did so with a bases loaded full count this season resulting in a run: Joakim Soria (KC) and Jim Johnson (BAL) walked in one run each due to a pitch called a ball within the strike zone.