Orioles manager Buck Showalter recently told a magazine that Derek Jeter "is always jumping back from balls just off the plate. I know how many calls that team gets ..."
That raises the question: Is Jeter getting the benefit of the doubt on inside pitches? The data indicates he is not.
In fact, an analysis of the statistical data generated by the Pitch F/X telemetry system (which can determine the location of every pitch) shows that Jeter actually is getting more strikes called against him on inside pitches than most big leaguers.
In our initial look, we used the following three criteria for pitches to Jeter for the past three seasons:
• Situations where Jeter took a pitch classified as a fastball;
• The pitch on the inner-third of the plate;
• The pitch was thus in the strike zone.
That netted us a sample of 262 pitches over the last three seasons (regular season and playoffs combined).
In that span, that pitch was called a strike 82.4 percent of the time for Jeter
The major league average for the 205 players who saw at least 50 pitches that met the criteria (while hitting right-handed) was 73.8 percent of such pitches being called as strikes. Jeter exceeded that by a significant margin.
In the sample of 262 pitches, Jeter was seeing 23 more strikes called, a difference of seven to eight per season. It shows he was not getting favorable treatment.
Jeter ranked among those for whom that pitch is called a strike the most frequently, 11th-most out of those 205 players. So that indicated he was not getting favorable treatment.
To check for potential biases related to camera calibrations and sample size, we ran 12 more checks on the data, using various combinations related to where the game was played (Yankee Stadium or on the road), where the pitch was (inside part or outside part of the plate, and looked at all pitch types.
Of those 12 studies, all but one of them showed that Jeter was getting at least a few more strikes called against him on close pitches than the average major leaguer in a given season. None of them showed he was getting more balls called.
One was almost an exact match for the league average - a sample of 47 pitches that Jeter took that were classified as being "on the black" (on the very edge of the plate) and inside in Yankees road games ( a very small sample).
In that instance, Jeter saw 66 percent strikes. The league average was 65.3 percent