Strike Zone Newsbeat
Wednesday, June 01, 2016
High Strike, Low Strike, All Around the Zone
Last week, Major League Baseball announced a proposed change to the strike zone. In response to a zone that continued to sag downward, MLB’s competition committee has recommended that the definition of the bottom boundary of the strike zone be changed from the hollow under the kneecap to the top of the knee.
There are those who blame the low strike for ushering in an era of depressed offense and depressed fans who don’t like watching 2-1 games. Perhaps this will make baseball fun again. In fact, research by Jon Roegele has suggested that if baseball could have turned back time to the strike zone that it had in 2009, it would have resulted in 1,000 extra runs being scored league-wide, enough to give every team an extra two-tenths of a run per game. Not bad.
But I think we need to explore a little bit beyond just looking at pitches at the knees. The law of unintended consequences clearly states that… there will be unintended consequences.
Saturday, May 21, 2016
In a report filed on Friday, Stark says that the league’s competition committee reportedly agreed to alter the strike zone and eliminate the four-pitch intentional walk during their meetings with owners this week. Those two changes could be implemented as early as the 2017 season.
He says the strike zone will be raised to the top of the knee, because umpires have taken a liking to calling pitches that were below the knees entirely. That means pitchers will have to bring the baseball up, which means hitters should have a better chance to elevate the baseball.
The change in the intentional-walk rule would end the traditional practice of requiring the pitcher to lob four balls outside the strike zone. Instead, a team could signify it wants to issue an intentional walk, and the hitter would be immediately sent to first base, sources said.
Posted: May 21, 2016 at 07:58 AM | 22 comment(s)
So all this time the four-pitch free pass has been what’s responsible for preventing schoolchildren from seeing the final out of games? Who knew?
As for intentional walks, Stark wrote the following:
“The change in the intentional-walk rule would end the traditional practice of requiring the pitcher to lob four balls outside the strike zone. Instead, a team could signify it wants to issue an intentional walk, and the hitter would be immediately sent to first base, sources said.”
This is a change that’s been talked about and debated for years. On one hand, a purist might argue that the game needs to be played all the way through, because throwing the pitches could lead to a mistake that alters the game. We’ve seen wild pitches on intentional walks before, so it’s a valid point.
Others would then argue that it doesn’t happen nearly enough to matter or justify wasting another 30-60 seconds. Apparently, the competition committee agrees with the latter opinion, thus meaning the intentional walk as we know it will soon be extinct.
Saturday, May 07, 2016
Looking at PitchF/X data from Brooks Baseball, Farrell was both right and wrong. The 3-1 pitch was a strike. The 3-2 pitch, after which Ortiz had to be restrained from going after Kulpa, was low. It was not so low as to match Farrell’s assertion that Ortiz “needed a hockey stick” to reach it, but it should have been Ball 4.
It’s important to remember, though, that the 3-2 pitch came after the 3-1 pitch and a reaction by Ortiz that was so animated, Farrell needed to come out and get ejected on the slugger’s behalf. It is not fair or right that umpires expand the strike zone in such situations, but that has been the case for a century and a half of baseball. Ortiz, a major leaguer since 1997, has been around long enough to know that if you’re that demonstrative with a protest of a called strike, and somehow are lucky enough not to get thrown out of the game, if the next pitch is anywhere close — which it was — you’d better be swinging the bat. ...
The incident illuminates a point that everyone already is aware of, but that needs to be made, explicitly, as a reminder. Calling balls and strikes, in real time, at full speed, is an incredibly difficult job that human umpires do remarkably well, all things considered.
As Ortiz said, though, “They’re human, and they’re going to make mistakes.” The difference is that, in 2016, awareness of those mistakes is heightened. There is a strike zone tracker on television broadcasts, not to mention on Major League Baseball’s website and phone apps. There are Twitter accounts that not only track close ball-strike calls, but tell you, immediately, how often a pitch in a certain location is called the same way.
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