Upon review of Jake Arrieta’s pitch locations last night, he certainly could have been better. He wasn’t just out of the zone from time to time – he was all over the place. Worse, from a performance standpoint, when he was in the zone, he wasn’t always near his actual target. That he had five walks (four unintentional) in four innings isn’t a huge surprise, and Arrieta was highly critical of himself after the game.

That all said, he probably deserved better. Taking a look at the chart of his pitches from the magnificent and time-sucking Brooks Baseball:

To the extent you’re not able to tell (apologies for the size limitations), I count six pitches in the zone that were called balls (just two out of the zone that were called strikes), and another two or three that were very close. Out of just 82 pitches, having 6 of them called balls when they were actually strikes? That’s pretty bad, and it completely changes the face of the at bats in which they took place.

What really stung is that each of Arrieta’s four unintentional walks last night included at least one missed strike call. In other words, the majority of the missed calls actually wound up hurting him, rather than taking place in at bats that ended up a strikeout or a dribbler or whatever.

Was Arrieta wild last night? Yes. Was he going to have some issues regardless of how the zone was called? Maybe so. But, when you actually look at pitch locations, he probably should have wound up with one or two fewer walks, and maybe another inning or two of work.

And, to close, a little fun with the chart:

Yeah. There are pitches in those two locations.

  • TWC

    I mean, seriously, Brooks Baseball, how hard would it really be to export your charts as high-res .jpgs? We’re not trying to cram your images onto our Geocities pages.

    • jh03

      Maybe it is hard. You don’t know. Jerk.

      • TWC

        Heh. For a kid who wasn’t even born yet when Geocities pages were hot, you’ve got a pretty smart mouth.

        • jh03

          Not going to lie, I have no freaking idea what those things are.

          Just googled it. And yeah, you’re an old fart.

          • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

            You don’t know what GeoCities are?

            Damn, I am getting old.

            Do you know what Snake is?

            • jh03

              Like the animal that needs to go straight to hell?

              In seriousness, no I don’t.

              • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                Oh god, how about Nintendo? Duck Hunt? Contra? Iron Man? Legend of Zelda (as in the original)?

                How about this…have you ever had a paper due in school that wouldn’t allow for internet sources?

                • jh03

                  Wait, were you talking about that super old game? I remember that. I didn’t realize that it was actually called Snake lol.

                  Dunk Hunt was my shit when I was little. I played Zelda, but I really don’t remember anything about it. I played both of those games when I was realllly little, and same iwith Snake. But I was young enough where my memory with those things is pretty awful.

                  Umm.. Yeah. I think so. Not in high school though. I think I had to do *one* without internet sources in junior high. I think.

                • catahoula


          • TWC


            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman


              The Geocities scare easily…but they’ll be back, and in greater numbers.

              • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

                Dude I loved Geocities I know I had some kind of poetry page on there before many of these newbs were born.

                • CubsFaninMS

                  I had a page with a two-story Mediterranean style home that I designed in drafting, a bunch of car pictures that I Photoshopped, pictures of me, and a list of all of my songs. I used to burn CDs back when few people knew how. So I made a “remix” song introducing their names into it (with Cool Edit Pro), put 10-15 songs on a CD and sold it to them for $12. Dem were the dayz.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Well, part of that is me trying to have them be data-saving sizes so that people can see them easily on mobile. I wouldn’t blame Brooks on that one as much as the current layout of this site.

      (Which is changing soon … minimally, but helpfully … )

      • TWC

        I can see that you reduced yours down a touch (a nice gesture, but probably not necessary in 2014), but I was looking at the originals on Brooks’ site. They’re just 600×400 .gifs. I mean, come ON…

        • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

          Ace is really stingy these days first closing our home, then kicking us to another site and no afraid of a small image. Makes you wonder what evil plot he is planning with all the extra space?

      • RoughRider

        Mimeograph a copy and mail it.

  • aa.

    I don’t know how accurate MLB Gameday is, but I definitely remember the first three pitches Arrieta threw to Adam Wainwright after the intentional walk were shown to be in the zone but called balls.

    • aa.

      Cool, I can use Brooks Baseball to actually take a look at that sequence, and they say 1 of those pitches was in the zone, so I guess MLB Gameday isn’t all that accurate.

  • ced landrum

    I didn’t feel like it was a framing issue on most of them last night either.

    • nate1m

      Exactly. If he’s wild even in the the zone its gonna be hard to get the glove on the ball

    • https://twitter.com/dwoytek dw8

      Castillo is doing him no favors, especially at the bottom of the zone. The at bat against Bourjos in the 4th was a particularly bad one for Castillo.

    • Q-Ball

      I didn’t see the game, but this data does support what pitch framing guys say: That Castillo is the worst in the game. I’m not sure myself about pitch framing stats, because in terms of blocking pitches and controlling the running game, Castillo is one of the BEST in baseball.

      • ssckelley

        I believe Molina is considered one of the best framers in the game and he struggled to get that call on the pitches at the bottom of the strikezone and on the left edge (from pitchers point of view).

        The calls were horrible but at least the umpire was bad for both teams.

  • mudge

    Counterintuitive solution: work faster.

  • candyland07

    WELCOME to the Excuse Party.

    • TWC

      “Jake Arrieta … could have been better. He was just out of the zone from time to time – he was all over the place … he wasn’t always near his actual target. … Was Arrieta wild last night? Yes.”

      Sounds like excuse-making to me.

      • DarthHater


      • CubsFaninMS

        Brett’s analysis appears to be pretty objective on this to me, clearly acknowledging Arrieta’s shortcomings last night while showing via statistic analyses that he was not helped any by either pitch framing or bad umpire judgment.

    • DarthHater

      Speaking of parties, you are hereby invited to the Shut the Fuck Up Festival.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      Only reading the title of articles is fun

  • Dougy D

    I think that all of the strike zone plotting shit can be interesting, but give me a break. Look at the chart and tell me that it is an accurate strike zone for both Darwin Barney and Adam Dunn. They are not the same size! It is the stupidest shit!

    I am on board with Candyland 007 as far as making excuses goes. If a pitcher is getting ‘pinched’, then they need to make adjustments. The MLB umpires are damn good and do sometimes make mistakes, but to think that they could get much better is ridiculous. Stop whining.

    • Beast Mode

      Did you watch the game last night? That was very poor umpiring.

      • waittilthisyear

        yea, the ump stunk for both teams. miniscule zone, then when extras came, anything near the dish was called a strike. totally disinterested.

        • waittilthisyear

          which makes grimm’s inning that much worse, i suppose

  • Dafoxx

    An article recently published the journal Management Science concludes, after analyzing over 700,000 pitches, that status bias does exist in the calling of balls and strikes and furthermore, “umpire errors resulting from status bias lead to actual performance differences for the pitcher and team.”

    “Baseball insiders have long suspected what our research confirms: that umpires tend to make errors in ways that favor players who have established themselves at the top of the game’s status hierarchy.” That would lead one to conclude that Adam Wainwright (a two time all-star) along with Molina (a five time all-star) would have gotten several of those called balls called strikes instead. And yes, missed calls can and do effect the outcome of a game.

    The article also states that umpires miss on average 14% of non-swinging calls. And the technology exists to get those calls correct, the question is do we want to take the human element out of the game?

    • TWC

      “[T]he question is do we want to take the human element out of the game?”

      Shit yeah.

      At least when it comes to calling balls and strikes.

      • SirCub

        Nah, I want it COMPLETELY eliminated. Pitching machines throwing to robots, with all the fielding positions played by animals (Which Air Bud was that?).

        • Brocktoon

          Seventh Inning Fetch

    • TWC

      And Dafoxx, thanks for mentioning this article.

      Here’s the original, from one of the authors’ personal webpages: http://www.jerry-kim.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/KimKing-SeeingStars-Mar2014.pdf