The Most/Least: Called third strikes

Chris-Davis

I am confident that the day will come when strikes and balls will be called electronically. I am equally confident that the suggestion will be met be an overwhelming amount of negativity by baseball aficionados, but very few loud arguments from batters, pitchers, or umpires.

In this World Series, Fox periodically showed us the over-the-plate camera angle which exhibited numerous things:

  • It showed us how good umpires are, particularly when addressing pitching on the black or just off the plate.
  • It showed us how bad an umpire can be when consistently, or even worse inconsistently, missing a pitch.
  • It showed us how good some batters are in knowing the strike zone.
  • It showed us how good some pitchers are in hitting their sports.
  • It showed us the high degree of inconsistency there is, and how poorly defined the check-swing is.

For the most part, like in the World Series, throughout the season, umpires do an excellent job in calling strikes and balls. It is only when the call is egregiously bad that our sympathy lies with complaining batter, especially on a called third strike. I say that because if the call is “strike three” and the replay indicates that pitch was an inch or so out of the strike zone, you still have to wonder why the batter is not protecting the plate under those circumstances and leaving himself open to a minutely erred decision by the ump.

We understand that there are batters who are looking for a pitch so intently that they are blind to a pitch down the middle or a breaking ball absolutely “buckles the knees” of the batter cannot comprehend how that pitch broke into the zone, but those moments are exceptions as opposed to the rule.

There are the batters who consistently take that called third strike or the pitchers who throw them, who are simply purveyors of pain.

The Whiffers

Let’s begin by looking at this season’s strikeout leaders. Obviously, it stands to reason that they each will have their fair share of called strike threes, but the range in the top 10 whiffers is pretty large.

2013 Strikeout Leaders
K ClStk#
1. Chris Carter (HOU) 212 59
2. Chris Davis (BAL) 199 47
3. Adam Dunn (CWS) 189 46
4. Mike Napoli (BOS) 187 52
5. Pedro Alvarez (PIT) 186 33
6. Jay Bruce (CIN) 185 32
7. Mark Trumbo (LAA) 184 28
8. Dan Uggla (ATL) 171 46
9. Evan Longoria (TB) 162 44
10. Justin Upton (ATL) 161 55

Repeat offenders

Here are the 14 batters who took at least 40 called strike threes

2013 Called Strike Three Leaders
K
1. Chris Carter (HOU) 59
2. Justin Upton (ATL) 55
3. Mike Trout (LAA) 53
4. Mike Napoli (BOS) 52
5. Ryan Zimmerman (WSH) 48
6. Chris Davis (BAL) 47
7. Dan Uggla (ATL) 46
8. Adam Dunn (CWS) 46
9. Jason Kipnis (CLE) 45
10. Joey Votto (CIN) 44
11. Ian Desmond (WSH) 44
12. Evan Longoria (TB) 44
13. Shin-Soo Choo (CIN) 42
14. Nick Swisher (CLE) 40

The Good Guys with the Good Eyes

Here are the players with the fewest called strike threes. Now, at first glance I would have accepted these on face value but Adam Jones reminded me that in order to get to take a strike three, you have to get to strike two and by his walk total (only 25 in 689 PA) we can see that he is up there swinging which is why you really have to love the plate discipline of those batters who see over five pitches per plate appearance.

2013 Fewest Called Strike Three Leaders
K P/PA
1. Adam Jones (BAL) 6 4.67
2. Ichiro Suzuki (NYY) 7 5.00
3. Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) 8 4.75
4. Andrelton Simmons (ATL) 8 4.13
5. Howie Kendrick (LAA) 8 4.50
6. Victor Martinez (DET) 8 5.63
7. Adrian Beltre (TEX) 9 5.56
8. Nolan Arenado (COL) 9 4.89
9. Norichika Aoki (MIL) 10 4.30
10. A. J. Pierzynski (TEX) 11 4.82
11. Chase Utley (PHI) 11 5.27
12. Erick Aybar (LAA) 11 5.55
13. Yadier Molina (STL) 11 5.36

Don’t even try to generalize

Before you even consider trying to generalize whether a good team does not take a lot of called strikes and bad team takes many, let me tell you that the runaway NL East champion Atlanta Braves took the fourth most called third strikes and the World Champion Boston Red Sox took the sixth most called third strikes.

2013 Called Strike Three by Team
K P/PA
1. Houston Astros 391 4.76
2. Minnesota Twins 379 4.82
3. New York Mets 359 4.91
4. Atlanta Braves 334 4.86
5. Washington Nationals 329 4.88
6. Boston Red Sox 322 5.04
7. Tampa Bay Rays 316 4.96
8. Cleveland Indians 314 4.82
9. New York Yankees 299 4.84
10. Pittsburgh Pirates 298 4.90
11. San Diego Padres 295 4.69
12. Seattle Mariners 288 4.85
13. St. Louis Cardinals 281 4.88
14. Oakland Athletics 280 5.04
15. Arizona Diamondbacks 280 4.81
16. Chicago Cubs 279 4.90
17. Philadelphia Phillies 276 4.83
18. Los Angeles Angels 274 4.89
19. Miami Marlins 270 4.76
20. Toronto Blue Jays 267 5.11
21. Cincinnati Reds 265 4.94
22. Chicago White Sox 265 4.85
23. San Francisco Giants 264 4.90
24. Colorado Rockies 263 4.85
25. Milwaukee Brewers 261 4.82
26. Texas Rangers 247 5.02
27. Los Angeles Dodgers 246 4.71
28. Baltimore Orioles 245 4.82
29. Detroit Tigers 231 4.94
30. Kansas City Royals 226 4.80

Good pitchers throw good pitches

Here are the 2013 pitchers who threw the most called third strikes. I think you would be quite happy to have any of these guys on your team.
Cliff lee

2013 Called Strike Three Pitching Leaders
K
1. Cliff Lee (PHI) 92
2. Chris Sale (CWS) 73
3. David Price (TB) 67
4. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) 67
5. Felix Hernandez (SEA) 62
6. Adam Wainwright (STL) 60
7. Ubaldo Jimenez (CLE) 57
8. Yu Darvish (TEX) 56
9. Jon Lester (BOS) 55
10. Justin Verlander (DET) 53
11. Max Scherzer (DET) 52
12. Shelby Miller (STL) 51
13. Hyun-jin Ryu (LAD) 51
14. C.J. Wilson (LAA) 51
15. A.J. Burnett (PIT) 51
16. Justin Masterson (CLE) 50
17. Jeff Locke (PIT) 50
18. Doug Fister (DET) 50

  • Ácbéam

    Interesting that the top 4 ‘2013 Called Strike Three Pitching Leaders’ were southpaws.