Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Look At Every Joe West Call From Game 1 Of The ALCS

Game 1 of the American League Championship Series between the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox is now in the books, and it was certainly quite exciting to say the least. The lone run of the game was scored in the 6th inning when Tigers left fielder Jhonny Peralta lofted a fly ball to center field that found space and lead to Miguel Cabrera scoring.

Obviously with a score of 1-0, the story of this game was not the powerful offenses of both these teams. It came down to pitching, and that was just something that the Tigers did a bit better yesterday. Anibal Sanchez pitched 6 innings with 12 strikeouts, and he was removed with a no-hitter intact. If you are wondering why they took him out of the game, it's because he had 116 pitches and was clearly running out of gas.

On the other side, Jon Lester & Co. pitched phenomenally, too. In most games for the Red Sox this year, only allowing 1 run would almost guarantee a win, but they just could not figure out any of the Tigers pitching.

Sanchez, Al Alburquerque, Jose Veras, and Joaquin Benoit (Drew Smyly didn't have a strikeout) combined for 17 punch-outs all together, with 6 being the way of strikeouts looking. As I watched the game, I was also on Twitter, and my timeline was exploding with how "Joe West was killing the Red Sox" and "Joe West currently has a no-hitter."

At one point, Joe West was actually a trending topic. The Red Sox were arguing with him all game, and their fans were even more upset, so I decided to look into this a little bit, and see how outrageous his calls actually were.

Courtesy of Brooks Baseball, here is Joe West's strike zone from last night's game. First for left handers, then for right handers.
There is no legend for these two graphs, so I'll explain. The green squares are pitches that he called out of the strike zone when Boston was pitching, and the green triangles are pitches that he called out of the strike zone when Detroit was on the mound.

The red squares are pitches that he called strikes for Boston, and the red triangles mean the same for the Tigers. So to be clear, these are graphs from when each team was pitching, not hitting.

I was actually quite surprised by these two graphs, as I expected it to be much more skewed in favor of Detroit. That was not the case, obviously, but the one thing I can see is that on the left-handed chart, there is one strike call that went against them that definitely shouldn't have. That is the one that is the red triangle well below the zone, and if I had to bet, I would say that that was the 7th inning call on Jacoby Ellsbury that eventually led to him striking out.

One bad call is bound to happen every game, that's just the margin for human error that exists in baseball. But to say that the umpires cost the Red Sox this game would be ludicrous, as the zone was pretty much consistent for both teams the entire night.

You need to score runs (and get more than one hit) to win games, and that's just not what the Red Sox did last night. To their credit, they did make it an interesting game at the end, as they had a man in scoring position in the ninth. Their pitching showed that they could go toe-to-toe with the game's best, and it's safe to say that I'm looking forward to watching the rest of this series; it should really be some great baseball.

Thanks for reading.

Follow Brian Rzeppa on Twitter, and check out his NBA work at The League News.


  1. That actually confirms exactly what I saw as a Tigers fan: One bad call, but overall an above average game for a homeplate ump IMO. Other than that one it seemed like every time they showed the pitch cam on TV the ump's call was spot on or the ball was so borderline it could've been called either way (and as a hitter, you have to swing at those).

    Sanchez just had ridiculous amounts of movement on his pitches, which made some of them look like balls when they weren't.

    1. Agreed. I think what a lot of people don't realize is that the pitch is called where the ball crosses the plate, not where the catcher catches it. That's especially important with pitchers like Sanchez who, as you said, have a ton of movement.

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