A lot has been made this series about the favorable strike zone for the Milwaukee Brewers in their series sweep against the Pirates. Adam LaRoche made those concerns public with this quote in the PPG:
“Go talk to the home plate umpire,” Pirates first baseman Adam LaRoche said of Marty Foster, whom players felt gave far more favorable calls to Gallardo than Ian Snell, who walked four and struck out five. “He seemed to like [Gallardo]. Old Marty back there.”
The quote was in reference to Ramon Vazquez throwing his bat on what he thought was a ball four, only to see the pitch ruled as a strike.
I decided to go back through the MLB Gameday pitch by pitch recap of today’s game, using the PitchFX data to determine whether Gallardo received an advantage over Snell. I was looking at called pitches under the following conditions:
Borderline Pitches – The majority of the ball is in the white borderline around the strike zone
Strikes – The majority of the ball is inside the white borderline
Balls – The majority of the ball is outside of the white borderline
On Borderline pitches, Gallardo had 20 pitches called. Of those 20 pitches, 10 were called strikes, while 10 were called balls. Comparing that to Snell, who saw 14 pitches called for strikes, and seven called for balls, and we see that Snell had the bigger majority of borderline pitches go in his favor.
That’s the only thing in Snell’s favor.
Snell had 47 pitches that landed outside of the strikezone. Of these pitches, 42 were called balls, and five were called strikes. Gallardo had 11 balls called for strikes, and 32 balls ruled as balls. In fairness, Snell had a lot of pitches that left no question, but there were several pitches that were ruled as balls for Snell, and strikes for Gallardo.
Even worse, Gallardo had 11 pitches called inside the strikezone. All 11 pitches went for strikes. Snell had ten pitches called inside the strikezone. Three of those pitches were ruled balls, even though they were clearly strikes.
Take a look for yourself here.
As for the game, it was a tough loss for the Pirates, ending a three game sweep against the Brewers. The good news is that the Pirates finish the month with an 11-10 record, and play their next five games at home, where they are 6-3 on the season.
The MVP Tracker
It’s hard to award negative points for the MVP tracker for today’s game. Snell pitched a great game, going seven innings, and allowing one run on five hits. Gallardo was getting a lot of calls, which is tough, because Gallardo is a good pitcher as it is.
However, there are some negative points to award…
-One negative point for Craig Monroe. With a runner at second in the eighth inning, Monroe had a 2-0 count, and watched three straight strikes, all inside the zone, without swinging.
-One negative point for Nyjer Morgan. After Monroe struck out, Morgan grounded out on a 2-1 count to first base, ending the inning.
At the end of the month of April (since the Pirates don’t play tomorrow), the leader of the MVP tracker is Adam LaRoche. No surprise there, as Adam has been on fire (for once) in the month of April, hitting .269 with five homers, 14 RBIs, and a .916 OPS. Nate McLouth finishes in second at the end of April, with Paul Maholm, Matt Capps, Zach Duke, Ross Ohlendorf, and Andy LaRoche tied for third.
The nice thing about all of that? Other than Adam LaRoche, all of those guys have several years of team control left, which means we can build on any success this season.