Here's the strike zone plot of Brian Gorman from last night, courtesy of Brooks Baseball (click for a larger view). Green is a ball, red is a called strike.
As you can see, this is an example of the human element making baseball more fun. There are eight strikes not even close to the normalized zone called strikes, and about 10 easy strikes called balls.
Here, are the splits, showing Gorman was an extreme case of a very common issue: the outside pitch against lefty batters.
What I also find interesting (and frustrating) is Gorman was, as with many umpires, failing to call the low strike, but he wasn't consistent with it. In fact, on these charts, not a single Red Sox pitcher had trouble getting the low strike called, while the Rangers had at least nine pitches in the lower half of the strike zone called balls. I doubt Gorman was supporting a rooting interest, but, seriously, what is that about?
The worst part of the zone wasn't that it was wrong, but it was inconsistent. Much like the outside pitch against lefties in general, the problem isn't just that the zone is to big/small, it's that hitters and pitchers aren't able to know consistently if a pitch is going to be a strike or not. They can't expand or shrink their zone, they just have to guess.
And, I mean, come on. Everyone and their mother knew Josh Hamilton was getting intentionally walked in every way but officially. Papelbon was so obviously not giving him a single thing to hit. So why do you randomly call a strike that isn't even close to a strike when the pitcher is obviously not even trying to call strikes? Are you just trying to keep things lively? See if you can make Hamilton Swing? Here's that plate appearance.
And here's the following Cristian Guzman at bat, with the winning run on second.
Thank heavens the Rangers won and this is only annoying instead of devestating. Isn't baseball so much more fun when you don't know if a ball is going to be called a ball or not? I know guessing if the rules will be called correctly is my favorite part of the game, and I'm glad baseball isn't doing everything to fix it.