*Lets be honest here, I'm probably risking my nonexistent press credentials, but since I planned on attending my final Royals game of the year later today, I think I'm alright.
It was pretty clear to just about anyone watching the game yesterday that something was off in the home plate umpires calls of balls and strikes. Not just a little off, like Tim McClellands notoriously small strike zone, or the occasional random bad decision most umpires make. I'm talking a full fledged out and out bias for Red Sox pitchers and a tightening of the zone against Royals pitchers.
Now to be fair, I'm ONLY going to address the pitch calls. I'm not going to discuss Gibson's handling of the Zach situation, the warning given out after a wild pitch, nor the further situation with Trey Hillman.
So using the very convenient graphs at Brooks Baseball(ironically enough a very pro-Boston site) I decided to take a look at just how the game was called.
The first thing we need to look at is the overall game calling to see if something is amiss.
The first thing we notice is a MAJOR shift of the plate. For the most part the Vertical location of the calls was pretty good, there are still a few missed calls but that's to be expected. However the Horizontal location of the calls is absolutely atrocious. Not only were the calls for the left side of the plate sheared off by almost half of a normal strike zone (Note: the scale above uses a normalized strike zone, since this is fairly accurate to the rules, the distance from -1 to 1 is about 17 inches) this effectively cuts almost 5 inches off the left side of the plate. For comparison the average diameter of a baseball is about 2.9 inches. So where did that extra room go? To the right side of the plate, where Greg felt compelled to add on as much as 3 inches to the strike zone.
One major problem with this setup is that it favors right handed batters by a good deal. While it may be nice to throw half way to the right batters box when a lefty is up, it would prove too easy to hit any righties who might crowd the plate. This leaves righties with a strike zone less than 3/4 of its original size. At the same time it allows the pitcher to basically throw strikes well beyond the reach of your average left handed batter, giving them a good margin.
So was this biased against the Royals? Well if it was then the Red Sox didn't seem to know before game time. Despite a strike zone with a large anti-lefty bias the Red Sox started just one fewer lefty than the Royals (5 to 6).
BUT that just means that the "strike zone" didn't have a bias. But did the CALLING of the strike zone have a bias? Lets take a look.
What we have here is a edited version of what you saw earlier, I removed any pitches that were more than a ball length away from the traditional strike zone as well as from the "Gibson Strike Zone", which I marked in blue.
So now we have to count and see if preferential treatment was being given to one team or the other.
First we have to see the number of pitches compared to the Traditional zone Including the edited out pitches.
# of Correct KC Strikes: 27
# of Correct KC Balls: 61
# of InCorrect KC Strikes: 7
# of Incorrect KC Balls: 18
Totals: 88 correct out of 113 called pitches (77.8%) 6% incorrect Strikes, 16% incorrect balls
# of Correct BOS Strikes: 21
# of Correct BOS Balls: 45
# of Incorrect BOS Strikes: 11
# of Incorrect BOS Balls: 8
Totals: 66 correct out of 85 called pitches (77.6%)13% Incorrect Strikes, 9% incorrect Balls
And compare them with the number in the "Greg Gibson Strike Zone"
# of Correct KC Strikes:32
# of Correct KC Balls: 67
# of InCorrect KC Strikes: 1
# of Incorrect KC Balls: 13
Totals: 99 out of 113 Correct (87.7% correct) 1% Incorrect Strikes, 12% Incorrect Balls
# of Correct BOS Strikes:32
# of Correct BOS Balls: 50
# of Incorrect BOS Strikes: 0
# of Incorrect BOS Balls: 3
Totals: 82 out of 85 Correct (96.8% correct) 0% Incorrect Strikes, 3% Incorrect Balls.
Important to note that many of the Correct balls for both sides were no-doubters well away from the strike zone. All told about 80 pitches combined were likely not even close, this makes the miscalls all the more important.
So what does this tell us? Well for starters it means that Greg Gibson got only about 3/4's of his calls right tonight across the board. However it also tells us that Greg was twice as likely to miscall a strike for Boston and about half as likely to miscall a ball. But that's compared to the normal strike zone. Inside his own Zone Greg was much better, rarely miscalling any strikes, he was however FOUR TIMES more likely to miscall a ball against Royals pitchers.
But there is one more step to the puzzle. We can tell from the top graph that Greg was just as harsh against both teams on the Right side of the plate. But what about his little "growth" on the left side? Was he fair there?
Here's our final edit. I narrowed the field down to just the difference between Gregs apparent strike zone and the normalized one. Remember this represents almost 4 inches of space OFF the outside edge of the plate.
In this area Greg called:
KC Strikes: 8
KC Balls: 8
Now take from this what you will, But it seems obvious to me that not only was Greg Gibson an inaccurate disgrace to his profession, but one with a large pro-Boston bias. The biggest problem that I have is that with the exception of 1 Miscalled KC Ball there are BOS Strikes that are called further out of the zone, so this isn't simply a matter of the BOS strikes being close and the KC Balls being on the fringe, this is a case where the KC Balls and BOS Strikes look like someone tossed them into a blender. There is simply no reason, AT ALL, for this sort of inconsistent calling from the umpires.
*Edit: fixed some spelling, minor grammatical errors