The Kansas City Royals are leading the New York Mets in the 2015 World Series, but some Mets’ players took exception to the strike zone in Game 2. Ian York uses PITCHf/x to answer the question: Was the World Series strike zone inconsistent in Game 2?
Some of the Mets batters were unhappy with the strike zone in Game 2 of the World Series. We can look at the locations of called balls and strikes to see if they were justified.
Here, the filled circles are the pitches Kansas City batters saw, the open circles are those seen by Mets batters; blue are balls, red are strikes. The grey polygon represents the strike zone, as umpires were calling it in 2015. These charts are from the umpire’s viewpoint, so imagine the batters standing in between the charts.
The teams broke even on generous balls, with one each. No called pitches are wildly outside the normal strike zone, but there are a couple of called strikes that the Mets could possibly complain about: One or two on the very outside edge of the left-handed strike zone, and one on the outside corner of the right-handed batter’s zone. But even those are very close, certainly within the region where umpires often will call strikes. The only one that was actually outside the margins of the normal strike zone was to Daniel Murphy in the 9th; he walked in the at-bat.
This is consistent with the home plate umpire’s history. When we looked at umpires’ trends in 2014, Mark Carlson was interesting in that he tended to take strikes away from right-handed batters (-1.9 extra strikes per game) but give them to left-handed batters (0.8). Here is Carlson’s tendencies from 2014; regions where he was more likely to call a strike than the average umpire are red, while those where he was less likely to call strikes are blue. Those regions match up well with the rare missed calls he made in Game 2.
The Mets lost 7-1, and according to the first strike zone maps, they only saw two or three strikes that were even slightly unfair. It’s hard to blame their lack of offense on the umpire.