It’s really hard for MLB hitters to differentiate balls from strikes, especially with rising 100-mph fastballs, 102-mph turbo sinkers, and knee-buckling 80-mph curveballs.
Pitchers are definitely nastier these days, and that makes the job of a hitter much more difficult.
Taking a ball at the edge of the zone is not as easy as it sounds.
That’s why umpire mistakes are so costly for hitters: if batters are good enough to refrain themselves from swinging at a pitch near the edge of the zone, they expect umpires to call it as it is: a ball.
When this pitch is called a strike, it can be really frustrating: just ask Chicago Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki.
“Seiya Suzuki’s plate discipline is a strength, but he’s been burned by called strikes outside the zone, including two pitches tonight that ended in strikeout. Since he debuted last year for Cubs, Suzuki is tied for 2nd highest Pitch% of called strikes outside the zone in MLB,” Cubs insider Meghan Montemurro tweeted.
Seiya Suzuki's plate discipline is a strength, but he's been burned by called strikes outside the zone, including two pitches tonight that ended in strikeout.
Since he debuted last year for Cubs, Suzuki is tied for 2nd highest Pitch% of called strikes outside the zone in MLB: pic.twitter.com/1fRBtC3G96
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) June 6, 2023
Some of the pitches shown in that graph are comically out of the zone, not even near it.
The difference that a call can make in an at-bat is considerable, so it’s fair to say that umpires have had an impact on Suzuki’s overall offensive output.
This year, Suzuki is still trying to replicate the form that made him such a huge star in Japan.
He is slashing .267/.358/.442 with a .800 OPS and six home runs in 190 plate appearances.
He is good enough to expect more homers as the season advanced.
Hopefully, he receives fair treatment from umpires from this point on.NEXT: Former Cubs Star Comments On Marcus Stroman's Dominance