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Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt: Helping Moscoso With The No-No

Yesterday, with the Royals struggling to get a hit against Moscoso, home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt, who from now on will be known as HW, called a strike against Mitch Maier that was a ways out of the strike zone. Here is a screen shot of the final pitch location:


Additionally, video of the pitch can be seen here (1:30 mark in the video):

The pitch is outside. No doubt about it. To beat a dead horse, here the plot of called balls and strikes for the game (catcher's/umpire's perspective).  I bet you can't pick out Maier's called 3rd strike (strikes are red, called balls are green):


He obviously called some pitches closer to the plate balls for both teams. He did only have one pitch that was completely out of his normal strike zone, but it was an important one. Further more, HW loves to call pitches strikes on the outer half of the plate when a left handed hitter is up.  Here is a general map of his LHH strike zone:

The strike zone is from the catcher/umpire's perspective. The square is the rule book strike zone and the circle is added for visual reference. The scale is the percent that the umpire call a ball a strike in that part of the strike zone. If the umpire is being compared to the league average or another umpire, the values are the difference in percentage points. The zone is adjusted according to the player's height.


As it can be seen, he does call quite a few pitches on the outside part of the plate. Here is how he compares to other umpires:

The umpire is being compared to the league average, so the values are the difference in percentage points.


Compared to other umpires, the difference can also be seen.

Pitch FX placed the pitched at -1.6 in the horizontal and 3.0 vertical directions. This pitch is in the 0% called strike zone.  

I know the images do round down to the closest numbers, so I looked a little further to see if he had called any strikes that far outside before. Since 2008, he actually did call 3 pitches this far outside. They were at the horizontal values of -1.61, -1.68 and -1.68. Two of the instances didn't have a major impact (one in the 1st inning that ended up in walk and the other AB ended up with a HBP), but the 3rd is a little interesting. The Cubs were throwing a shutout going into the 9th inning and the pitch ended up being the 3rd strike on Felipe Lopez for the first out. HW may have a thing for helping dominating pitching performances out.

It was a bad call and HW should be tarred and feathered because of it. On the other hand, he loves to call pitches strikes on the outer half of the plate when a lefty is up. Moscoso took advantage of the expanded zone and got a lucky, but incorrect call.