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Friday, May 18, 2012

Did The Red Sox Have a Beef With Dan Bellino?

There were several instances in Thursday nights game where the Red Sox looked dumbfounded by calls that home plate umpire Dan Bellino made. In the seventh inning, the frustration boiled over and Mike Aviles was tossed for arguing balls and strikes, but did the Red Sox have a beef with the sophomore umpire?

To get to the bottom of it, I pulled up the strike zone maps for the game at, as well as the map for Aviles' at-bat in the seventh, which is what you see directly below.

As you can see, pitches 1 and 3 from Burke Badenhop were outside of the zone and called correctly. Pitch #2 was a called strike and again the right call. #4 was a foul, so there's no arguing that one but pitch #5 was the one that Aviles was clearly upset about. As the map shows, the pitch caught plenty enough plate to be called a strike, so where the comment below came from, I'm not sure.

 “I wasn’t questioning whether it was a ball or strike on the last one. He had called two pitches that were very similar balls, and at that point I shut off that pitch when it got called a strike."

In an attempt to understand his frustration, I pulled up the data from his previous at-bats against Matt Moore and found absolutely nothing to backup his argument, which led me to the next map.

This is the map of every ball and strike called by Dan Bellino. It does not include foul balls, swinging strikes or hits, only pitches that the home plate umpire made a call on. The data also attempts to adjust for the height of the batter.

Squares represent Tampa Bay, Triangles represent Boston. Red are strikes, Green are balls.

As you can see, the strike zone was pretty consistent with the exception of a few pitches. There doesn't appear to be any real variation between the strikes called on Red Sox hitters and Rays hitters. If anything at all, the Rays appeared to have more strikes called on them that we're out of the zone, but it was very minimal.

I'm not really sure where the frustration from Aviles came from, but he clearly didn't have a beef. Felix Doubront on several occasions appeared upset with the strike zone as well, but like Aviles, there was really no argument. I give props to the second year umpire for calling a good game. There are many umps out there a lot less consistent than Bellino was in this game.

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