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Data doesn't support Bradley's claims of ump bias

Last week Milton Bradley complained that his various run-ins with umpires have caused the men in blue to widen their strike zone when he's at the plate:

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.

What am I supposed to do? You lead the American League in OPS, and two years in the top three in the league in on-base percentage. All of a sudden now, I come to Chicago and I can't see the ball no more? I don't know a strike from a ball? I don't think I'm doing anything wrong. There's a lot involved, and it's a lot of politics where there's nothing you can do about it.

The beauty of being a baseball fan in 2009 is that smart people have access to the data necessary to actually investigate those types of claims. Dave Allen of Baseball Analysts did just that, breaking down MLB.com's PitchF/X data to see whether Bradley's strike zone has indeed expanded recently.

His lengthy analysis is definitely worth reading, if only for the cool-looking charts of the strike zone, but the short version is that "there is no statistical difference between Bradley's zone this year and his zone in 2007 and 2008."

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