As reported over the weekend, Milton Bradley believes he's under attack:
Bradley believes his strike zone is being widened, forcing him to chase pitches he normally doesn't swing at or risk being called out on strikes. Asked if there have been repercussions from Vanover's fellow umpires since the incident, Bradley didn't mince words . . .
. . . "Unfortunately, I just think it's a lot of 'Oh, you did this to my colleague,' or 'We're going to get him any time we can. As soon as he gets two strikes, we're going to call whatever and see what he does. Let's try to ruin Milton Bradley.' It's just unfortunate. But I'm going to come out on top. I always do."
He certainly came out on top last night, as he went 2-4 with a double, a homer and four RBI. But the question remains: is Bradley getting squeezed?
Doesn't seem that way. According to FanGraphs, Milton Bradley's career walk rate is 12%. His career strikeout rate is 21.5%. In 2009? His walk rate is 12.2% and his strikeout rate is 22.8%. I'm no statistical guru, but that doesn't strike me as particularly out of whack.
The one thing that does seem particularly out of whack is his ground ball ratio, which at 51.9% is the highest of his career, and substantially above his career 45.5% rate. Based on those numbers, he's simply not making solid contact. Of course, it could be countered that Bradley -- seeing or sensing that he's getting squeezed -- is being forced to swing at pitches he can't drive, but one would think that he's have to have experienced a lot more "unjust" strikeouts before concluding that he had no choice but to chase garbage.
Ultimately this seems like something that could be checked via PITCHf/x data, and I hope and assume that someone with some PITCHf/x-fu will run the analysis so that we can see what's what.
Unless of course last night's offensive outburst means that Bradley has turned the corner. Er, I'm sorry, I mean if last night's outburst means that the umpires decided, in light of his comments, to stop being so mean to him.