Red Sox fans are up in arms over the final at bat during today’s game, in which Cody Ross was called out on strikes on a pitch that appeared to be well outside. In fact, all five pitches from that at bat were outside of the strikezone (see image at right).

And even though the Rays have had their fair share of bad strikezone calls, now that one went against the Red Sox, all of a sudden people care (see HERE and HERE for a couple of examples).

Did the umpire miss the call? Yep. But he also got some help from Jose Molina doing what all catchers are trained to do, framing a pitch.

It just so happens that Molina is one of the best in baseball.

Here’s the pitch. We will take a closer look down below…

Now look at the frame just before Molina caught the ball, and five frames later. There are two references points marked with red lines.

One line is where Molina’s wrist is located in relation to the plate. And the second is the inside edge of the baseball and its relation to the plate. Obviously we had to make an educated guess on the right side as to where the edge of the ball was located…

Knowing that the plate is 17 inches wide, we can do a very rough calculation and estimate that Molina’s wrist moved about four inches towards the strikezone and the location of the ball is now on the black edge of the plate, or just off of it.

Here’s the pitch slowed down…

This is the value of a player like Molina. He is going to save more runs than he will produce, and the Rays are OK with that.

Should Red Sox fans be upset? Probably. But if they are baseball fans, they should also applaud a good baseball play.

But one thing we do know for certain. Fernando Rodney is Honey Badger, and he don’t give a sh*t.

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15 Comments

  1. Don says:

    I can't really belived an umpire is fooled by a catcher moving his mit toward the plate after the ball is 2 feet past the plate.. Frame, then make a Call? . "Thats outside no look at his mit, its a strike " doubtful
    I think he has his mind made up on strikes/balls before the ball gets to the plate.. then over or just off...then too late to change after a catcher has the ball in his glove

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      Yes, an umpire should decide before the ball is caught, but these are humans making decisions based on things that happen in a split-second.

      Take the actual framing. Going from catching the ball to moving the glove to it's final spot takes 5 frames. That is one-fifth of a second TOTAL to frame the pitch. What we see as framing in slow motion just looks like normal glove movement caused by a 97mph pitch.

      And if the pitch is close and there is any doubt in his mind, he can be influenced by a good catcher.

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  2. MarkE says:

    Bahahahah... bahahahahaha...

    I love how the second story you link to ends with a sarcastic "happy patriots day!" As if to say, "WTH, it's patriots day, Boston should get those close calls".

    They think they're more important than anyone else on earth on any given day, but on "patriots day", their own custom holiday, "how dare you make a bad call against us!"

    Hahaha... Rays have been getting those calls for YEARS! See: Curt Schilling whines and has the PLATE UMPIRE reverse a FIELD UMP's call at FIRST BASE.

    Welcome to the dark side RedSux fans, where the Umpires Strike Back.

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  3. Political Man says:

    The umpires have ben so bad over the years against us when playing them and the Yankees, I don't even want to hear it from Sox fans. My reply is the same I always hear from them; scoreboard. Payback for the series in Boston when we should have swept them least BJ getting the widest strikezone known to man.

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  4. Matt says:

    I had a dream once that MLB actually allowed the available technology into the game and would let that decide balls and strikes.

    Ha, what a pipe dream! Nah, better let the stake of the billions of dollars invested in the sport go to the chance of a person making a split second decision hundreds of time each game and only being right approximately 90% of the time. That makes a lot more sense. I mean, it's the way we've always done it, so we should probably just keep doing it that way until the end of time.

    (Cork, I just made that 90% number up off the top of my head. With your vast resources, can you estimate the percentage of the time balls and strikes are correctly called?)

    P.S. Glad we finally got one; Go Rays!

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      I dont know of anybody that has that data without going through it pitch-by-pitch. But I have looked at hundreds of strikezone plots, and I would say you are probably pretty close.

      For example, in today's game, there were 16 pitches that were called wrong (about evenly split for both teams) out of 146. That's 10.9% wrong. But 1) Vanover is known to have a wide strikezone, and most of the missed pitches were called strikes that were outside; 2) I'd say half of those are pretty darned close, and there is a chance the PitchF/x was wrong (there is a margin of error) or even if they were wrong, they weren't the egregious kind.

      But yeah, I'd guess that the true number is somewhere between 5% and 15%.

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      • Matt says:

        Thanks for the data Cork. And that's about what I thought.

        I am very surprised, with the amount of statistical analysis that is done in the game of baseball, that someone like yourself hasn't sat down and analyzed all of the pitch counts for a large sample size and drawn a number of conclusions:

        1) Do teams like the Yankees and Red Sox really get better calls?
        2) How consistent are umpires with their 'own' strike zone?
        3) Do home teams consistently get better calls than road teams?

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    • Alex says:

      I hate the umpires as much as anyone, but electronic ball and strike calls would ruin the game. Fair ball/Foul ball, HR, tag plays, w/e those can be aided electronically, but not balls and strikes. It would change the game way too much

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      • Rob says:

        I actually like the fact that umpires have slightly different strike zones as long as they are consistent about it. It makes everyone, batters and pitchers, adjust to that day's conditions. To me, that emphasizes their abilities even more than if the strike zone was exactly the same every day. It's sort of like a golfer adjusting to the conditions of the course, the pin, the wind, etc. It requires some mental agility and less reliance on muscle memory, which is why I like baseball better than other sports to begin with.

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        • Matt says:

          That's the first logical explanation for it I have found. And that's about as close as I think I'll ever get to accepting why varying strike zones might be okay.

          But comments like Alex's "ruin the game" I just hate. Why is changing the game ruining the game? Why is everyone content accepting the game as is instead of making it more accurate?

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  5. Rob says:

    If it's true that Molina is one of the best at framing pitches, then the Rays pitchers (see David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, and Matt Moore) should stop throwing fastballs down the middle and let Molina do his job.

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  6. KillaTapes says:

    I've often wondered about framing, such as in Molina's case. Don't umpires hear and read the same stories about how good he is at framing? Wouldn't that upset them a little, as if they were being cheated? And? If so, would they not be more careful, or maybe more strict when umpiring a game that he's in?

    Just wondering aloud. Either way, stoked it worked today, much needed win.

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  7. don says:

    I wonder how many hitters can decide a ball is 1-2 inches off the plate....and why would they not swing with 2 strikes and a ball is that close...then cry to the umpire..."Oh man that was a full inch outside".....ala Upton

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  8. Dave L says:

    Cathers arent the only ones who can influence umps on boderline strikes.

    How many times have we seen Zobrist for example do his quick bat flip and trot to first only to be rung up - ringent in disbelief.

    Watch Aroid are Jeter for example, closely when they take on 3-2 counts. Their eyes will follow the ball into the catchers mitt then without flinching they will glare unblinkingly directly into the umps eyes daring him to ring him up. And guess what? they rarely do. they always get those calls

    An ump is more likely to call out a guy showing him his ass on the way to first base.

    Im surprised more hitting intructors dont teach that.

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