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Sanspo: a wider strike zone the cause of PL dominance?

by on Jun.22, 2011 @ 2:19 am, under NPB

Sanspo wonders whether or not a wider strike zone was the cause of the Pacific League's dominance over the Central League during Inter-league play this year.

In addition to the one standard baseball, this also happens to be the first year in which the umpires are working together as one group (instead of separate under the two leagues). That means they're also using one common strike zone, which, according to Sanspo, is wider than the zone PL umps were calling last season.

Now throw in concerns about energy consumption, games running too long, and you might have umps that are being a little more generous with the strike zone this year.

Sanspo also touches on why there aren't a lot of aces in the CL and points out two possible reasons:

  1. Pacific League teams had a tendency to take risks on younger arms out of high school while the Central League went after polished pitchers from the University, Industrial, and Independent League ranks.
  2. A number of high profile Central League starters went off to the Majors at around the same time: Kei Igawa, Koji Uehara, Kenshin Kawakami, and Hiroki Kuroda.

To help illustrate Sanspo's point about PL pitchers perhaps being helped out by a larger strike zone, a list of starters with ERA's under 2.00 so far this year:

Regular Season

Player Lg Tm ERA G CG ShO W L IP H HR SO BB HBP WP BK R ER
Tanaka, Masahiro PL RAK 1.19 10 4 1 6 2 83.1 58 4 84 7 2 3 0 12 11
Tateyama, Shohei CL YAK 1.26 10 3 2 6 1 71.1 53 5 53 11 4 1 0 11 10
Takeda, Masaru PL HAM 1.30 10 1 0 4 5 69.0 49 4 39 3 2 0 0 12 10
Utsumi, Tetsuya CL YOM 1.32 10 2 1 9 1 61.1 47 4 45 18 2 3 0 10 9
Darvish, Yu PL HAM 1.39 10 5 4 8 2 84.0 53 1 93 10 3 5 0 15 13
Karakawa, Yuki PL LOT 1.41 10 3 2 6 2 76.1 55 1 54 16 2 0 0 14 12
Yoshimi, Kazuki CL CHU 1.70 9 0 0 5 2 63.2 52 1 38 11 2 0 0 13 12
Sugiuchi, Toshiya PL SOF 1.78 10 4 2 4 2 76.0 54 6 81 20 1 2 0 17 15
Wada, Tsuyoshi PL SOF 1.84 10 2 1 6 1 68.1 56 4 66 13 1 2 0 14 14
Yamada, Hiroki PL SOF 1.96 8 1 1 6 2 59.2 34 3 39 17 2 1 0 13 13
Hoashi, Kazuyuki PL SEI 1.98 8 0 0 4 1 54.2 51 3 30 8 3 1 0 13 12

Inter-league

Player Lg Tm ERA G CG ShO W L IP H HR SO BB HBP WP BK R ER
Darvish, Yu PL HAM 0.21 5 4 3 4 1 43.0 25 0 44 1 2 2 0 2 1
Tateyama, Shohei CL YAK 0.44 6 1 0 4 0 41.0 27 1 26 3 3 0 0 2 2
Tanaka, Masahiro PL RAK 0.68 5 2 1 4 1 40.0 28 1 44 2 2 3 0 4 3
Nakayama, Shinya PL ORI 0.73 6 0 0 2 0 24.2 16 2 20 11 0 0 0 2 2
Takeda, Masaru PL HAM 1.03 5 0 0 2 2 35.0 26 1 21 2 1 0 0 4 4
Utsumi, Tetsuya CL YOM 1.50 5 2 1 5 0 36.0 24 2 33 8 1 2 0 6 6
Settsu, Tadashi PL SOF 1.50 5 1 1 4 1 36.0 23 1 31 4 1 0 0 6 6
Keppel, Bobby PL HAM 1.69 5 0 0 4 1 32.0 22 2 14 7 3 0 0 6 6
Karakawa, Yuki PL LOT 1.70 5 1 0 2 1 37.0 29 1 25 8 0 0 0 7 7
Terahara, Hayato PL ORI 1.75 5 2 0 4 1 36.0 28 0 25 6 0 2 0 7 7
Kawai, Yudai CL CHU 1.80 5 0 0 2 0 30.0 27 3 17 8 0 1 0 8 6
Iwata, Minoru CL HAN 1.80 4 1 1 2 2 30.0 18 2 27 10 1 1 0 8 6
Wolfe, Brian PL HAM 1.86 5 0 0 4 1 29.0 30 0 21 8 1 2 0 7 6
Sawamura, Hirokazu CL YOM 1.93 6 2 0 2 2 42.0 31 2 40 12 0 2 0 10 9
Sugiuchi, Toshiya PL SOF 1.95 5 1 1 3 0 37.0 22 2 42 12 0 1 0 9 8
Yoshimi, Kazuki CL CHU 1.98 5 0 0 3 1 36.0 27 1 18 3 1 0 0 8 8

And FYI:

Inter-League Regular Season
Under 2.00 Under 1.00 Under 2.00
Total CL PL Total CL PL Total CL PL
2011 16 10 6 4 1 3 (11) (3) (8)
2010 5 1 4 0 0 0 1 0 1
2009 5 1 4 0 0 0 2 1 1
2008 7 3 4 0 0 0 2 0 2
2007 7 3 4 0 0 0 2 0 2
2006 7 5 2 1 1 0 2 1 1
2005 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
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