CC Sabathia had a walks per nine innings of 1.38 -walking 37 batters in the entire 2007 regular season – and posted an impressive 5.65 strike out to walk ratio. Sabathia’s season high for walks in a game was three, which he only did twice.
This year Fausto Carmona had a walks per nine innings average of 2.55 – he walked 61 batters this year – posting a K/BB ratio of 2.25. Carmona was more up and down with his control, he walked four batters or more four times this year.
I’m currently watching Game Two of the ALCS and maybe it’s me, but there seems to be an awful lot of balls. The 3rd inning isn’t even over and Carmona has already walked four batters. Last night, Sabathia walked five batters – two more than he had in any game this season. In Game One of the ALDS against the Yankees, Sabathia walked six batters. (It should be noted that in Game Two of the ALDS, Carmona walked two batters).
My point in all this is that it has long been speculated (by whom other than fans, I’m not sure) that the Red Sox and Yankees have smaller strike zones. And in watching these games, it appears that this is true. If batters on the Red Sox or Yankees don’t swing, rarely is the pitch called a strike.
Now, you could argue that the Red Sox and Yankees preach this approach and look for and sign players who have good eyes. The Red Sox, after all, lead the majors in walks this year and the Yankees were 4th. The Oakland A’s, another team that preaches patience at the plate, were second in walks in the majors.
There is no doubt that the Yankees and Red Sox have players who have fantastic batting eyes. But why does it seem that pitchers like Sabathia, who have such great control in 34 starts in the regular season, become Daniel Cabrera against the Red Sox and Yankees (then again maybe Cabrera leads the league in walks because he gets squeezed in 20% of his starts?). Seems to me that opposing pitchers have a teacup-sized strike zone against Boston and New York – and this goes a long way to their success (or in the Yankees' case - only in the regular season).
We’ll be looking for some data or evidence to back up our hypothesis.
And loved this shot that Phil Rogers at the Tribune took at Schilling:
Curt Schilling moves ahead of Daisuke Matsuzaka in the Red Sox rotation-commentary both on how badly Schilling wanted the Fenway Park stage again and how Matsuzaka has disappointed.
Is there any doubt that Schilling refers to himself in the third person when the reporters aren’t around? I hope he breaks a leg on Saturday.