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Arizona Diamondbacks blown calls of the week, June 28-July 3

Worst-called game of the year? We have a contender.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Arizona Diamondbacks Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports


  • 56 bad calls in total, averaging a hefty 9.3 per game. Only one game had fewer than seven, but the numbers were also skewed by one contest. No prizes for guessing which that was.
  • All but one game was at Chase Field, and the numbers there continued to favor the D-backs, with an overall tally of 25-20 in our direction. However, all of that margin was the result of a single game, where seven of eight calls were in Arizona’s favor. The solitary road game saw the usual slight bias against the D-backs.
  • The totals for the year
    Overall: 303-325 (48.2% favor the D-backs)
    Home: 177-165 (51.8%)
    Road: 126-160 (44.1%)
  • The overall split is creeping back towards almost even. But as the sample size increases, we are still seeing a statistically significant difference between calls at home and on the road. That likely is not unique to the D-backs, however,
  • Best-called game: July 2, 4-3 vs. COL (Marvin Hudson). Hudson not only had the lowest number of missed calls, none were even close to being outrageously bad. Even his worst decision still had a 22% agreement rating, so were not far out of the realms of credible opinion.
  • Worst-called game: June 28, 3-4 vs. STL (D.J. Reyburn). The odd ball and strike missed here and there doesn’t typically directly affect the outcome of a game. Sure, it’ll put the hitter in a better or worse count and change the potential outcomes. But rarely does it have such an obvious impact as Thursday. Among the many bad calls made by Reyburn - the count of sixteen (!) doesn’t even include the hit by pitch which wasn’t - were consecutive pitches to Paul Goldschmidt on 2-0, with bases loaded in a scoreless game. Both were outside the strike zone, at 6% and 14%. Both were called strikes. Instead of the first run in the game, the count was 2-2, and Goldschmidt struck out.

That run which never was, also proved to be the margin of defeat for the D-backs. But why stop there? Reyburn’s poor judgment was also directly responsible for the ejection of Arizona’s starting catcher, Jeff Mathis, who saw strike three called on another 14% pitch. That ended the fourth inning, with a runner on third base, and forced the D-backs to use a backup catcher for the rest of the game. While the overall balance of calls only slightly favored the Cardinals (the margin was 9-7), there can be little doubt that the significance of the calls which hurt the Diamondbacks. If we never see Reyburn behind home-plate again, it’ll be too soon for me.

Interestingly, the Fangraphs chart (below) doesn’t regard Reyburn as having been too terrible, with the only truly awful decision being the called strike to Brandon Drury in the bottom of the fourth (the red dot outside the middle-right edge of the zone). It shows Both the Goldschmidt pitches as inside the box. Having watched both of them live and on replay, I’m definitely going with @DiamondbacksUmp on that one.

  • Worst confirmed call. As we’ll see later, there was one game where the number of bad calls may have been lower, but the tracking system showed an amazing quantity of really bad decisions. That came in Saturday’s game against the Rockies at Chas, in which Mike Estabrook’s strikezone appeared to be attempting to dig its way to China.

The individual games

June 28, 3-4 vs. STL (D.J. Reyburn)
  • 16 bad calls (5.33% of pitches)
  • 7 help, 9 hurt
  • 6 outrageously bad calls
  • Bad call score: 1,390
  • Worst call
June 29, 4-10 vs. STL (Sam Holbrook)
  • 8 bad calls (2.54% of pitches)
  • 7 help, 1 hurt
  • 3 outrageously bad calls
  • Bad call score: 666
  • Worst call
June 30, 3-6 vs. COL (Jerry Layne)
  • 7 bad calls (2.52% of pitches)
  • 3 help, 4 hurt
  • 0 outrageously bad calls
  • Bad call score: 564
  • Worst call
July 1, 6-2 vs. COL (Mike Estabrook)
  • 10 bad calls (4.33% of pitches)
  • 6 help, 4 hurt
  • 8 outrageously bad calls
  • Bad call score: 922
  • Worst call

As mentioned above, Estabrook’s zone was certainly questionable. On any other week, not involving D.J. Reyburn, this would have been a very credible contender for worst-called game, with eight of his ten bad calls being at less than 10% agreement. That’s made particularly clear by the Fangraphs plot below, which shows how Estabrook’s strike-zone appeared to extend from the ankles to the waist, rather than the knees and the shoulders. I don’t know if this is his standard, but I can only hope MLB will have a quiet word, because it differs so radically from the norm as to be almost unplayable.

July 2, 4-3 vs. COL (Marvin Hudson)
  • 4 bad calls (1.42% of pitches)
  • 2 help, 2 hurt
  • 0 outrageously bad calls
  • Bad call score: 308
  • Worst call
July 3, 3-4 @ LAD (Mark Ripperger)
  • 11 bad calls (3.44% of pitches)
  • 5 help, 6 hurt
  • 2 outrageously bad calls
  • Bad call score: 932
  • Worst call