Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

I heard the beefing about the strike zone in the first two games of the NLCS, and, for the most part, I ignored it because I didn’t agree. To my eye – not the terrible, terrible TBS zone on the broadcasts – the strike zone was pretty consistently good in those first two games.

In Game Three, however, it looked pretty brutal to me. And, if you were in the company of any other human beings, digitally or otherwise, you probably heard them complaining from the moment Dexter Fowler struck out on what looked to be ball four (indeed, PITCHf/x had it six inches below the zone) until the final out of the game. I certainly was.

What does the data have to say? Well, thanks to Brooks Baseball, you can see Ted Barrett’s zone for yourself:

barrett zone lhh

barrett zone rhh

That, simply put, is not a playoff-caliber performance.

Using the typically-called strike zone (the dashed box), I count 22 – TWENTY-TWO! – missed calls in the game. Setting aside the teams for a moment, that is flatly unacceptable. Moreover, it wasn’t even a consistently bad zone … it was a floating bad zone. Sometimes a pitch was called a ball one moment, then, in the same spot, called a strike. For reference, Tim Timmons was at 14 missed calls in Game Two, and Rob Drake was at 13 in Game One.

The 22 missed calls break down like this:

  • 4 balls called strikes in favor of Cubs pitchers.
  • 7 strikes called balls in favor of Mets batters.
  • 4 balls called strikes in favor of Mets pitchers.
  • 7 strikes called balls in favor of Cubs batters.

You could argue that some of the missed calls that favored the Mets happened in more critical moments, but I’m not going to go there. The bad strike zone helped and hurt both teams at varying times.

That said, it affected the game. Who knows how a “better” zone would have moved the needle – maybe it wouldn’t have – and I’m not complaining about the strike zone vis a vis the outcome of the game. I’m simply confirming for those of you who were beefing last night: you were right.

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