Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How Nick Got Caught Looking

In this past Saturday's game, Nick Markakis struck out looking against Cliff Lee. That was the fourth straight time that he had struck out looking.

It is not surprising that Nick has never struck out looking four times in a row before. He possesses one of the best eyes in baseball. It's shocking that is ever happened at all.

So how did this rare event come to be? Was Nick justified in ripping the ump the night he was tossed from the game? With PitchFx, we can find out.

Starting with his first at bat against C.J. Wilson on Friday night:

Wilson struck out Markakis with a two-seam fastball but all three strikes he got on Nick were good pitches, away, but in the strikezone.

At bat #2:

This time, Wilson went in, out, in, out and then in the zone away to get the called strike three. Good pitching from Wilson as he changed locations and froze Nick with another two-seam fast ball low and away in the zone.

At bat #3:

This was the at bat where Nick got thrown out. But Markakis has a great argument here as none of the pitches were in the zone. Pitch number three was borderline but all are clearly outside the zone. Nick was right, this should have been a walk.

The next day, his first at bat against Cliff Lee:

Hmmmm...a little payback for going after the umpire the night before? Lee was surgical with his strikes but the second pitch and the the final pitch were off the plate. Nick probably had to bite his tongue hard after this at bat.

Don't expect to see this phenomenon again anytime soon. Nick was a victim of good pitching for two of these K's but also the victim of some really bad calls on the other two. Again, if you were watching the Orioles over the weekend, you saw a rare sight.

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