But I’ve written about pitchers and their strike zones before. Conveniently, Masterson’s entire big-league career has come during the PITCHf/x era. As I’ve noted earlier, using plate-discipline data available at FanGraphs, we can calculate a difference between actual strikes and expected strikes. Pasted below is a table of the ten pitchers with the greatest negative differences per 1,000 called pitches, since 2008. Minimum 200 innings, starters only, adjusted so that the league average is zero.
Vicente Padilla -30
Ian Snell -32
Mitch Talbot -32
Jeff Niemann -34
Oliver Perez -34
Felix Hernandez -35
Glen Perkins -35
Jeremy Sowers -39
Andrew Miller -47
Justin Masterson -52
Relative to the league average, over his career, Justin Masterson has pitched to the tightest strike zone out of the sample. Because 1,000 called pitches is an unfamiliar denominator, know that Masterson has averaged about 1,815 called pitches per 200 innings. So this is a pretty extreme result we’re looking at, and it’s the sort of thing that makes you want to regress it going forward. It makes you want to blame someone other than Masterson — someone like, say, Masterson’s catchers. One wonders if this is a framing thing, since, in theory, a strike zone is a strike zone. Why should Masterson get screwed so badly?
Every year, Masterson has had way more pitches in the zone called balls than the average. Every year, Masterson has had fewer pitches out of the zone called strikes than the average. This confirms what we were talking about above — Masterson hasn’t been pitching to the same strike zone as everyone else. It makes you wonder how much better Masterson could be if the zone treated him more fairly.
http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.ph ... terson-be/
I really suggest reading the article. This is really thought-provoking stuff from Sullivan.