Adrian Johnson is a good case study for showing exactly what Zone Scores and Game Scores represent. These scores are not meant to evaluate the accuracy of an umpire but rather the fairness, or consistency of an umpire as it relates to both teams. Adrian Johnson was all over the place in regards to his ball/strike accuracy, but - as represented by his decent Game Scores - he was almost as equally bad for both teams. His combined Standard Zone Scores totaled +17. This is the highest amount an umpire has had using those metrics since the start of the project on May 11th. This indicates that his zone was... well, huge. So does his combined Adjusted Zone Scores of 0 mean all of his calls were within the Adjusted Strike-Zone? No. It simply means Johnson was equally as bad calling balls as strikes as he was calling strikes as balls. He had a total of 14 gifts beyond even the Adjusted SZ, but they were evened out by his 14 misses. Again, the Adjusted Game Score simply tells us that (amazingly) his mistakes were almost split evenly between both teams, with the exception of two pitches (an extra miss for Dodger pitching and an extra gift for Padre pitching). Here are a few highlights... or I guess lowlights, from Johnson's performance: Strike 1 to Rollins in the seventh inning (0-0 count, 1 out, nobody on, LI 1.14)
This is one of the worst mistakes I have seen an umpire make horizontally against a LH hitter since beginning the project. Here is a quick primer on the actual numbers behind the Standard and Adjusted Strike-Zones and how they are measured (skip ahead two paragraphs if you don't care): MLB Advanced Media's pitchf/x system measures and provides a pitch locations distance, in inches, from dead center of the plate. Locations to the left (from the ump's perspective) towards the RH batter box are negative, and to the right (or towards the LH batters box) are positive. Simply, a pitch measured by the pitchf/x system at -0.650 is six and a half inches to the left of dead center. Accordingly, a pitch at 0.650 is six and a half inches to the right of dead center. Home Plate is 17 inches across. The Standard SZ width, as you can guess, is also 17 inches across - simply spanning the width of the plate. So for our purposes the Standard SZ is from -0.850 to 0.850. 17 inches, eight and a half inches either side of dead center home plate. The Adjusted SZ takes into account historical data that shows most umpires will expand their zones a bit beyond the plate. These areas are what are typically referred to as the corners, or the black. The Adjusted SZ, as we use it, expands the horizontal strike-zone for LH hitters from -0.850 to -1.200. This is an increase in the strike-zone by three and a half inches on the outside corner. That is quite a bit of 'leeway'. For RH hitters, the adjustments are an inch and a half on either corner, or -1.000 to 1.000. A total zone expansion of three inches. Don't ask me why umpires seem to call strikes farther outside to LH hitters than RH... that is simply what data shows. So looking at the data from this strike called on Rollins, we can tell that the pitch crossed the front of the plate at -1.448, or just shy of fourteen and a half inches to the left of dead center (umpire perspective). Math tells us that this pitch was two and a half inches beyond the Adjusted SZ and a whopping SIX inches off the actual plate. This is simply a really bad call. For those wondering, the pitch Adrian Gonzalez got ejected for arguing was -1.129, or about 2 3/4 inches off the plate, but still within the extra three and a half inches of the Adjusted SZ. In the very same at-bat, one pitch later, Johnson called this strike to punch out Rollins:
Just two ridiculous calls. But wait... there's more! Johnson made 8 strike calls on balls that were low and out of the zone. As with most of his day, at least he was consistent in being bad. Here are a few more really bad calls: Strike 1 to Puig in the tenth inning (0-0 count, 2 outs, nobody on, LI 1.05)
Strike 1 to Callaspo in the ninth inning (1-0 count, 2 outs, runner at 1B, LI 1.99)
I can't say it enough. These are really, really bad calls. Johnson made up for his mistake gifts, by making mistake misses like these: Ball 1 to Solarte in the fifth inning (0-1 count, 2 outs, runners at 2B,3B, LI 2.99)
Johnson had just ejected San Diego hitting coach Mark Kotsay for arguing a strike call to Solarte just prior to this pitch. That pitch was high, but technically a strike. I guess Johnson felt he missed it and decided to give Solarte the benefit of the doubt with this second pitch ball. This pitch was only five inches from the center of the plate! The camera angle makes it tough to really see how bad this non-call was.
Ball 1 to Barmes in the ninth inning (0-0 count, 0 outs, runner at 1B, LI 3.36)
Look at where this pitch was compared to his other strikes below the zone... and this AB had an LI of 3.36! Adrian Johnson, as consistent as he was, is clearly the worst umpire this blog has seen when it comes to accuracy. I really don't know how he has a job. I play in an amateur hardball league on Sundays and I rarely see calls as bad as some of the ones Adrian Johnson made yesterday. Wow...
Close Calls & Reviews:
In the bottom of the tenth inning, Bud Black challenged an out call at second base on the first part of a 3-6-3 DP. I posted a shot from Saturday night's game of the double play the Padres turned in the ninth inning where it looked like Amarista was not on the bag during that play. MLB has said they will not review the "neighborhood play," where, to protect middle-infielders, they give a little leeway around second base on a turn. They decided to review this play, stating that because the throw from Gonzalez caused Kike to come off the bag it was reviewable. But even with the review it didn't look like there was enough to overturn it. I guess with the way Adrian Johnson was calling the strike-zone, this one was par for the course. Overall, not a good showcase of MLB officiating today...