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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

MLB umpires missed 34,294 ball-strike calls in 2018, study shows

“”(T)hroughout its history, MLB has protected its error-prone umpires, resisted adopting strong performance measurements, and not taken advantage of available technology that could better the game. At a time of autonomous cars and machine learning, MLB needs to embrace useful change. … Given how MLB is heavily dependent on performance statistics when evaluating players, it is surprising the league has been sluggish to apply similar rigor to umpire hiring, promotion, and retention.”

“Younger MLB umpires missed fewer ball-strike calls, but umpires on the whole got an average of 14 per game, or 1.6 per inning, wrong in 2018, according to a new study from Boston University. ”

Hank Gillette Posted: April 10, 2019 at 07:56 AM | 199 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: strike zone, umpires

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   101. PreservedFish Posted: April 13, 2019 at 08:37 AM (#5831422)
   102. Sunday silence Posted: April 13, 2019 at 08:38 AM (#5831423)
A bias in a robo ump's programming/technology might have them make all their mistakes (5% based on your hypothetical) the same way, resulting in a lot more balls or strikes.


that would never happen; if a pitcher starts throwing all balls then he's going to have to start throwing the ball over the plate. ANd if he's throwing all strikes the batter will have to start swinging.

Your not really thinking this out and following your logic to its natural conclusions.


Arguably, a perfectly consistent strike zone, where one millimeter difference goes from 100% strikes to 0% strikes, would make for a more boring game than a more grey-area strike zone, because the game would become too predictable


I sort of get this, but what if say: any ball that is exactly on the borderline within 2 mm. say, is randomly called? The pc is programmed to randomly call borderlines
   103. Sunday silence Posted: April 13, 2019 at 08:43 AM (#5831424)
If a pitch exactly bisects the edge of home plate, is that a ball or a strike? Not even machines are going to agree on every single pitch.


can you explain what you are trying to say here? Cause it makes no sense. of course machines can be set to agree with one another.

Have you even seen professional tennis or gymnastics where machines and slo motion is used? you can set machines to agree with one another that's like pretty much how we are able to have computers and internet and crunch millions of bits of data in milliseconds.

Welcome to automation!
   104. Sunday silence Posted: April 13, 2019 at 08:45 AM (#5831425)

Arguably, a perfectly consistent strike zone, where one millimeter difference goes from 100% strikes to 0% strikes, would make for a more boring game


do you think tennis has been made more boring by the advent of replay?
   105. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: April 13, 2019 at 11:40 AM (#5831448)
I only ever watched Tennis for McEnroe like outbursts. Now that you have taken the way the only reason for someone to yell "You cannot be serious" at the umpire, there really is no point in the sport.
   106. Jay Z Posted: April 13, 2019 at 04:41 PM (#5831536)
I sort of get this, but what if say: any ball that is exactly on the borderline within 2 mm. say, is randomly called? The pc is programmed to randomly call borderlines


The reason I said things would be more boring is that players would do film study and figure out which pitches would be just a bit outside of the strike zone with 100% certainty. There are only so many ways a pitch can be thrown that is still a tough pitch to hit. Uniformly consistent strike zones would reduce the number of approaches, number of different swings that a hitter needs to master. It would be a more controlled environment.

Putting a designed borderline element would increase the skill set the batter would need to master.
   107. Sunday silence Posted: April 13, 2019 at 06:06 PM (#5831556)
but Jay, isnt the only issue there that batting average will go up a bit? Is that really a big deal? Right? what's your big problem with hitters being able to know the strike zone; its kindof supposed to be that way.
   108. Sunday silence Posted: April 13, 2019 at 06:07 PM (#5831559)
Uniformly consistent strike zones would reduce the number of approaches, number of different swings that a hitter needs to master. It would be a more controlled environment.


Thats complete speculation on your part. What example do you have for that? If batters know the strike zone better they may be better able to tailor make their swing...e.g. this swing is for the down and out pitch, this one for the up and in, etc. Why isnt that equally arguable?
   109. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: April 14, 2019 at 04:59 AM (#5831683)
The reason I said things would be more boring is that players would do film study and figure out which pitches would be just a bit outside of the strike zone with 100% certainty.

This is completely insane. You are vastly, vastly overestimating the ability of players to determine where a pitch, that is going roughly between 80-100mph, is going to end up, when it is 30 feet away, which is when they need to start their swing in order to hit it.
   110. Jay Z Posted: April 14, 2019 at 06:27 PM (#5831807)
The impact is just speculation, but I think a consistent, uniform strike zone would definitely favor hitters, as they have the last course of action.
   111. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 14, 2019 at 08:25 PM (#5831851)
Obviously knowing these stupid "personalized" strike zones

Throwing scare quotes around personalized doesn't make this hobby horse any less inane. The strike zone is and always has been the zone the home plate umpire sees. That's baseball. It is now, it was in the 1970s and it was in the 1930s when you were growing up. You want to change that, fine. But stop pretending like this is something recent done by a group of rogue modern umps who want to impose themselves on the game. The strike zone is what the home plate umpire is calling that day (which is likely what that particular home plate ump calls every day) based on his vantage point and perspective.


Hey, I didn't invent the term. I put quotes around it because I'm quoting someone else.

And of course this isn't a new phenomenon. It's something that's only been brought more glaringly into focus by the employment of the TV strike zones. But that doesn't negate the fact that many an inning, and more than a few games, can turn on a miscalled pitch.

Adapting to the home plate ump's is what players have always had to do. I for one like that aspect of baseball, because it rewards the guys who pay attention and can make adjustments.

You like it and I don't. Fine. But IMO the skill set of mind reading should be used to read the mind of the opposing player(s), not to have to read the mind of an umpire.

I'll make an analogy which will bore everyone to death, but WTH. In professional level pool, for the last half dozen or so years a rack template has been used in most tournaments to cut down on the endless time that some players spend racking and re-racking time and time again with the traditional wooden rack. The template makes for a far more uniform rack, and it can save lots of needless wasted time between games, but at first many of the Old School players complained that racking with the wooden rack is a definable "skill", even though it has absolutely nothing to do with what's normally thought of as pool skills: Shotmaking, playing safe, reading table patterns, etc. But after a year or so, the complainants shut up and everyone appreciated the template's advantages.

Much in the same way, I don't think reading an umpire's mind is a skill that has anything to do with the real skills of the game, and to the extent that it is, with a robo-ump's strike zone a player is still going to have to know how to tell a ball from a strike, and he won't have the added advantage of getting a veteran's edge or suffering a rookie's disadvantage.
   112. SoSH U at work Posted: April 14, 2019 at 09:31 PM (#5831865)
It's not reading an umpire's mind Andy. It's simply paying attention.
   113. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 15, 2019 at 07:58 AM (#5831887)
But why should a batter be forced to pay attention to which umpire happens to be behind the plate that day? Umpires should be interchangeable.

The dimensions of the strike zone should depend on the batter, not the umpire, and that's what a robo-ump would provide.

Seriously, if we can accept replay cameras looking over umpires' collective shoulders to correct bad calls after they happen, what's the objection to having cameras prevent bad calls before they happen? Especially considering that far more ball and strike calls are missed than bang-bang calls on the bases.

   114. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: April 15, 2019 at 09:42 AM (#5831906)
Andy - What have you seen from the replay process that suggests that the system would be anywhere close to as seamless as you want? I don't like the idea of roboumps but if I thought it would work I'd be willing to consider it. I just have zero faith that it would be anything close to a massive change in the game and I'm highly skeptical that it would be for the better.
   115. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 15, 2019 at 09:52 AM (#5831909)
What is the purported connection between robo-umps and replay? I am not seeing any.
   116. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 15, 2019 at 09:55 AM (#5831911)
What is the purported connection between robo-umps and replay? I am not seeing any.

MLB has shown an inability to reasonably implement technology. Replay is about as bad as you could make it if you tried. The fear is they will similarly screw up "robo umps".
   117. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: April 15, 2019 at 09:58 AM (#5831914)
What is the purported connection between robo-umps and replay? I am not seeing any.


Besides what snapper said is the simple issue of unintended consequences. I remember when replay came in the Sox were playing the Yankees in early April and the Sox challenged one of those "the guy takes his foot off the base for a millisecond" plays. They got it right but I was stunned that this was a thing. Like that's not what replay is for. Implementing roboumps is not something I expect to be anywhere near as easy as people think it will be and I think there is a real potential for unintended consequences that are going to be a net negative.
   118. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 15, 2019 at 09:58 AM (#5831915)

I am sometimes amazed by the fact that tennis fans just take their instant replays as gospel, since what is shown on the replay is a computer rendering and not a video of the actual shot. When the technology was first introduced, were there people comparing the video to the computer renderings to see whether the latter were accurate? Did players ever argue this point?
   119. pikepredator Posted: April 15, 2019 at 11:09 AM (#5831954)
I am sometimes amazed by the fact that tennis fans just take their instant replays as gospel, since what is shown on the replay is a computer rendering and not a video of the actual shot


It is a computer rendering, but it is the product of several cameras. I've been a big fan of tennis for 35 years, and Hawkeye has been an improvement IMO. It's about as well-implemented of a replay solution as you can get, in a sport that is tailor-made for it.

It's logical (no limit on correct challenges, but be wrong twice and you're done until the next set), fast, efficient, and players generally accept its results without debate.

That said, I also enjoy the fact that the French Open still uses the "here's the mark the ball made in the clay" method of dispute resolution.
   120. Cris E Posted: April 15, 2019 at 01:04 PM (#5832029)
Quick question about how the TV strike zones work: how do the top and bottom of the zone get set for each batter? Is that automated or is there some $12/hr flunky clicking away on knees and armpits?
   121. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 15, 2019 at 02:41 PM (#5832080)
Andy - What have you seen from the replay process that suggests that the system would be anywhere close to as seamless as you want? I don't like the idea of roboumps but if I thought it would work I'd be willing to consider it. I just have zero faith that it would be anything close to a massive change in the game and I'm highly skeptical that it would be for the better.

I've answered this question about half a dozen times before, but it's a legitimate question and so I'll answer it again: Everything I say about robo-umps is predicated on the eventual ability to bring the technology up to well-tested speed, which in practice would mean working its way up from the minors and Spring training to the regular season. And when I say that robo-umps "can't come fast enough", by that I mean these improvements can't come fast enough.

But thanks for asking the question, as it's probably been awhile since I've opined on the subject and I can see why you might assume I was just calling for the TV zone to take the place of umpires. I'm glad to see those TV zones, but any worthwhile robo-ump camera is going to have to be three-dimensionally tested before actually introducing it into regular season play.
   122. Hank Gillette Posted: April 16, 2019 at 12:12 AM (#5832298)
The reason I said things would be more boring is that players would do film study and figure out which pitches would be just a bit outside of the strike zone with 100% certainty.


How many players have that much mastery of the strike zone? A lot of them get up there and seem to have little knowledge of what is a ball and what is a strike.
   123. Hank Gillette Posted: April 16, 2019 at 12:24 AM (#5832300)
I suppose you think that tennis would be more interesting if they changed the size of the court for every match and that basketball would be less boring if they altered the height of the basket before every game.


That seems a strange argument on a baseball thread, unless you think baseball would be more interesting if every park had the exact same dimensions of the field, playing surface, infield dirt (configuration and substance), height and material of fences, amount of foul territory, batter's eye, indoor/outdoor status and was played at the same altitude.


The difference is, the dimensions of the tennis court and the height of the basketball hoop are specified in the games’ rules, while baseball rules allow for different park dimensions and characteristics, within certain restraints. The more appropriate baseball comparison would be changing the distance between bases or the angle of the foul lines before every game. The strike zone is specified in the rules of baseball; the only deviation is supposed to be based on the location of the batter’s knees and shoulders.

I don’t see the appeal of an ever-changing strike zone myself; I’d much rather concentrate on the pitcher’s ability to get the ball in the actual strike zone (or not, base on the pitch count and strategy), and the batter’s ability to discern what is a strike and what he can safely let go by. There is plenty of human element in those matchups; why do we need the semi-random addition of an umpire guessing at where the ball passed through the plane of the plate?
   124. SoSH U at work Posted: April 16, 2019 at 01:23 AM (#5832310)
But why should a batter be forced to pay attention to which umpire happens to be behind the plate that day?


Andy, U know it was a long time ago, but you played baseball. How is this confusing to you? Knowing how the home plate umpire is calling the strike zone that day is what I'm talking about. Whether he's giving the high or low strike, inside or outside. It's what alert players have been doing forever, not memorizing tendencies (though I assume that would also be in play in the big leagues - probably already is).

It's possible robo umps would improve the game. It's also, possible since that theoretical perfect strike zone you're so enamored with has never existed in the game's history, that it wouldn't.

The difference is, the dimensions of the tennis court and the height of the basketball hoop are specified in the games’ rules, while baseball rules allow for different park dimensions and characteristics, within certain restraints. The more appropriate baseball comparison would be changing the distance between bases or the angle of the foul lines before every game. The strike zone is specified in the rules of baseball; the only deviation is supposed to be based on the location of the batter’s knees and shoulders.


Sorry, but that's a terrible rebuttal to the question of how interesting the game could be. There's no connection between the original argument and the written rules vs. the many ways baseball's conditions vary (and, of course, when discussing the strike zone, the written rules have never been applied with uniformity the way the dimensions of the tennis court or the height of the basket). You can make a case for the robo ump, but that ain't it.

And for the record, I think basketball would be more interesting if there were more variety in court sizes/lane sizes/3-point distances by arena (not sure on basket height though). Tennis probably would be too.

Unless you're talking about milk, homogeneity usually sucks.

Quick question about how the TV strike zones work: how do the top and bottom of the zone get set for each batter? Is that automated or is there some $12/hr flunky clicking away on knees and armpits?


I've wondered this too. It doesn't look like it varies at all, whether it's Aaron Judge or Jose Altuve.



   125. Greg Pope Posted: April 16, 2019 at 10:14 AM (#5832354)
Knowing how the home plate umpire is calling the strike zone that day is what I'm talking about. Whether he's giving the high or low strike, inside or outside. It's what alert players have been doing forever, not memorizing tendencies (though I assume that would also be in play in the big leagues - probably already is).

Teams have to be analyzing this already. Both on the pitching and the hitting side. It's probably in the team meeting. "The home plate umpire today is Davy Jones. He calls a strike zone that's a little shorter and a little wider than normal. But he's a little inconsistent on curve balls low and away to left handed batters. Here's 5 minutes of footage."
   126. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: April 16, 2019 at 10:20 AM (#5832358)
Teams have to be analyzing this already.


This isn't new. Clemens used to keep a notebook in his Red Sox days and I'd be willing to bet players have been aware of ump tendencies for longer than that. Hell in the little league I coach in I know that if Jackson shows up the boys better be swinging, that if it's Dustin then my pitchers better be on their game and if it's Mark then you just hope the bad calls work in your favor.
   127. jmurph Posted: April 16, 2019 at 10:57 AM (#5832370)
Hell in the little league I coach in I know that if Jackson shows up the boys better be swinging, that if it's Dustin then my pitchers better be on their game and if it's Mark then you just hope the bad calls work in your favor.

These better be pseudonyms you monster.
   128. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: April 16, 2019 at 11:19 AM (#5832382)

These better be pseudonyms you monster.


Of course; Dustin is really Mark, Mark is Jackson and Jackson is Dustin. But don't tell anyone.
   129. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 16, 2019 at 11:24 AM (#5832385)

Last night's Mets-Phils game provided another example of terrible replay implementation. With a runner on first in the top of the 8th, Juan Lagares hits a ground ball up the middle. Cesar Hernandez moves to field what will almost certainly be a DP ball, except that he boots the grounder and then throws it away trying to get Lagares at first.

Both runners try to advance on the play, but the the first baseman recovers and makes a nice throw to get Lagares dead-to-rights at second. However, Hernandez misses the tag on the first swipe and Lagares is safely on the bag by the time Hernandez makes his second swipe. It was a very exciting play in the late innings of a back-and-forth game, giving the Mets a chance to extend their 6-5 lead.

But Gabe Kapler challenges the call. It's clear from all of the replays that the first tag missed and the second one was too late. However, after what was at least a 4-minute review, the umpires conclude that Lagares' foot came off the bag briefly during his stand-up slide, while Hernandez was applying the second tag.

Perhaps I would feel differently if the call hadn't gone against my team, but this just seemed like such an obvious misuse of replay. Even if you agree with these "stepped off the bag for a split second" calls, taking 4 minutes during the 8th inning of an exciting game to watch endless replays of a tag just drains the excitement from the game.
   130. SoSH U at work Posted: April 16, 2019 at 11:38 AM (#5832391)
Last night's Mets-Phils game provided another example of terrible replay implementation. With a runner on first in the top of the 8th, Juan Lagares hits a ground ball up the middle. Cesar Hernandez moves to field what will almost certainly be a DP ball, except that he boots the grounder and then throws it away trying to get Lagares at first.


I've found my dream replay scenario: runner on first when the Bour play from this weekend happens. The runner tries to advance to second, is tagged out initially (which he knows, as Bour did) but the umpire blows the call (this time, the runner realizes the umpire missed the call). Knowing the call will be reversed on review, he takes off for third, trying to induce a rundown. In the course of the rundown, he's tagged out, but the runner on third scores.

   131. bobm Posted: April 16, 2019 at 12:03 PM (#5832407)
[120]

Advocates of the so-called “robo-umpire” believe the technology exists to automate strike and ball calls right now. MLB.com’s Gameday tracker, for example, is part of the Statcast system operating under the direction of MLB Advanced Media. It uses radar and ultra-high-resolution cameras to calculate pitch location and velocity, as well as launch angle, home run distances, exit speed (on batted balls) and spin rate (on pitches). It works in real time. In theory, therefore, balls and strike calls could be transmitted to the umpire in the blink of an eye. Statcast is also used by MLB to help evaluate umpires.

But it’s far from a perfect system. As reported last month in an article in SportTechie, “there is about a two-inch margin for error; that’s about half the width of a baseball.”

That’s part of the reason why Manfred is not yet sold on using an automated ump. “In all candor, that technology has a larger margin of error than we see with human umpires,” Manfred said.

Another issue is how the system would track pitches relative to each player. Balls and strikes in the Statcast system are determined by where the pitch crosses the plate in relation to the batter’s body, be it 6-foot-7 Aaron Judge or 5-6 Alexi Amarista. A strike-zone database exists for all major-league players, but it doesn’t account for players batting out of a crouch. [Emphasis added]


Denver Post (2017): "Should MLB use an automated strike zone in place of umps? "Yes, a thousand percent yes.'"
   132. SoSH U at work Posted: April 16, 2019 at 12:16 PM (#5832413)
A strike-zone database exists for all major-league players, but it doesn’t account for players batting out of a crouch.


I'll never understand why the crouch should matter. Regardless where you start your stance from, most players end up in the same general hitting position anyway. Rickey Henderson and Jeff Bagwell shouldn't get a reduced strike zone because they have a stance that makes themselves smaller.
   133. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 16, 2019 at 12:25 PM (#5832415)
I've found my dream replay scenario: runner on first when the Bour play from this weekend happens. The runner tries to advance to second, is tagged out initially (which he knows, as Bour did) but the umpire blows the call (this time, the runner realizes the umpire missed the call). Knowing the call will be reversed on review, he takes off for third, trying to induce a rundown. In the course of the rundown, he's tagged out, but the runner on third scores.


That would work in LL or HS, but not in the majors. First, I would think that the players are skilled enough and aware enough to know that the runner was obviously out and the call would be reversed on replay. But even if not, if the runner took off to an occupied 3rd base, they would just run him towards third, daring the guy currently at 3rd to take off for home, thus getting the only remaining legal runner in a rundown.
   134. SoSH U at work Posted: April 16, 2019 at 12:33 PM (#5832418)
That would work in LL or HS, but not in the majors. First, I would think that the players are skilled enough and aware enough to know that the runner was obviously out and the call would be reversed on replay. But even if not, if the runner took off to an occupied 3rd base, they would just run him towards third, daring the guy currently at 3rd to take off for home, thus getting the only remaining legal runner in a rundown.

I realize the odds of botching this run-down are quite long at the big league level.
   135. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 16, 2019 at 12:36 PM (#5832421)
I had my dream scenario the other day. Well, not a dream scenario per se, but an interesting situation in which I got to lecture both coaches on different basic rules.

Girls HS fast pitch softball. There is a rule that when the pitcher has the ball and is inside the 16 foot circle surrounding the pitcher's plate, runners have to stay on their base and runners currently off base have to immediately advance to the next base, or return to their previous base. Any hesitation or reversing directions once committed, and the runner is called out. It's called the "look back" rule.

So here's the situation: Runners on first and second, less than 2 out. Batter pops up to thew 2B. I call infield fly. 2B drops the ball and the runners try to advance. The 2b throws to the SS covering second base. The throw easily beats the runner, but the SS just tags the base, not the runner. The runner slides in a second later and I call her safe, but no one is paying attention to me. The runner assumes she's out and starts jogging back to her (first base) dugout, in the general direction of first base.. The SS throws to the pitcher, and while the pitcher has the ball inside the circle, the offensive coach yells to the runner "Get back to second, you were safe." As soon as the runner turns around to head back to second, I call her out on the look back rule.

I got arguments from both sides and got to explain the infield fly rule to one coach, and the look back rule to the other.
   136. PreservedFish Posted: April 16, 2019 at 12:39 PM (#5832423)
I can't even begin to wrap my head around that.
   137. SoSH U at work Posted: April 16, 2019 at 12:42 PM (#5832425)
Girls HS fast pitch softball. There is a rule that when the pitcher has the ball and is inside the 16 foot circle surrounding the pitcher's plate, runners have to stay on their base and runners currently off base have to immediately advance to the next base, or return to their previous base. Any hesitation or reversing directions once committed, and the runner is called out. It's called the "look back" rule.


I'm assuming if the next base is occupied, the lead runner would be forced to run or there would simply be two runners at that base (and an easy out).

The SS throws to the pitcher, and while the pitcher has the ball inside the circle, the offensive coach yells to the runner "Get back to second, you were safe." As soon as the runner turns around to head back to second, I call her out on the look back rule.


Since she had already reached second, would she have been allowed to continue toward first or head toward third or was she just screwed?
   138. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 16, 2019 at 12:48 PM (#5832428)
I'm assuming if the next base is occupied, the lead runner would be forced to run or there would simply be two runners at that base (and an easy out).


Well, I probably should have called her out immediately, since she wasn't running directly towards first but to her dugout, but I figured it was close enough. She could have run back and occupied first, since the batter standing on first at the time had no legal right to the base. Had her dugout been the third base one, and she continued there while the pitcher had the ball inside the circle would have mede for a more interesting situation. The runner on third could no longer legally leave the base or she would be immediately be called out. The runner from second could not legally occupy the base, nor at the point could she legally return. I'd probably have called her out as soon as she failed to return to second once the pitcher got the ball.
   139. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 16, 2019 at 12:51 PM (#5832433)
Since she had already reached second, would she have been allowed to continue toward first or head toward third or was she just screwed?


Ah, great point I hadn't considered. Yeah, she should have been called out upon not immediately returning to second once the pitcher got the ball.
   140. PreservedFish Posted: April 16, 2019 at 12:54 PM (#5832436)
I thought you could go back a base as long as your intent is not to deceive the defense.
   141. SoSH U at work Posted: April 16, 2019 at 12:57 PM (#5832440)
I thought you could go back a base as long as your intent is not to deceive the defense.


That or to make a mockery of the game (I had that one come up with a jackass a few years ago).

In this case, since it specifies you can only go forward or retreat, I'd assume that would limit your options to the base you were just on (second) and the base that was next (third). It shouldn't allow for the super retreat.

   142. Greg Pope Posted: April 16, 2019 at 01:07 PM (#5832442)
I'll never understand why the crouch should matter. Regardless where you start your stance from, most players end up in the same general hitting position anyway. Rickey Henderson and Jeff Bagwell shouldn't get a reduced strike zone because they have a stance that makes themselves smaller.

I hope they address this whenever they eventually implement robo umps. Standard strike zone based on your standing height. Just do a study to find out where to set it based on an average swing.
   143. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 16, 2019 at 01:12 PM (#5832444)
I had my dream scenario the other day. Well, not a dream scenario per se, but an interesting situation in which I got to lecture both coaches on different basic rules.
Dude...you need better dreams. Try eating spicy food before you go to sleep or something.
   144. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 16, 2019 at 01:15 PM (#5832445)
In this case, since it specifies you can only go forward or retreat, I'd assume that would limit your options to the base you were just on (second) and the base that was next (third). It shouldn't allow for the super retreat.


Yes. That is my interpretation.
   145. PreservedFish Posted: April 16, 2019 at 01:21 PM (#5832447)
It's times like this that one must be tempted to call for a "do over."
   146. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: April 16, 2019 at 01:22 PM (#5832448)
I've found my dream replay scenario: runner on first when the Bour play from this weekend happens. The runner tries to advance to second, is tagged out initially (which he knows, as Bour did) but the umpire blows the call (this time, the runner realizes the umpire missed the call). Knowing the call will be reversed on review, he takes off for third, trying to induce a rundown. In the course of the rundown, he's tagged out, but the runner on third scores.


A variant of this is not uncommon in high school. Situation, first and third one out, batter flies out, runner on third leaves early on the tag up. Other team realizes it and is all set to appeal at third so the runner on first just takes off to draw the pitcher's attention away from third, the minute the pitcher makes a move to the runner on first the appeal is no longer valid and the run scores.
   147. Greg Pope Posted: April 16, 2019 at 01:33 PM (#5832457)
Situation, first and third one out, batter flies out, runner on third leaves early on the tag up. Other team realizes it and is all set to appeal at third so the runner on first just takes off to draw the pitcher's attention away from third, the minute the pitcher makes a move to the runner on first the appeal is no longer valid and the run scores.

First question: If they just go ahead with the appeal, and throw to third, what happens to the runner on first (now on second)?

Second question (general question, not specific to this scenario): Why is an appeal necessary for tagging up? If the batter left early, then he's off the base when the out occurred. The OF throws straight to third base where the third baseman steps on the bag. The umpire should immediately call the runner out. This happens if the runner thinks the ball isn't getting caught and starts to run, then tries to get back to the bag. What is different?
   148. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 16, 2019 at 01:47 PM (#5832459)
Situation, first and third one out, batter flies out, runner on third leaves early on the tag up. Other team realizes it and is all set to appeal at third so the runner on first just takes off to draw the pitcher's attention away from third, the minute the pitcher makes a move to the runner on first the appeal is no longer valid and the run scores.


Not true. Any number of things can happen while the ball is live without the defensive team losing the right to appeal. It's only after the bat becomes dead that a subsequent pitch or play will cause them to lose the right.

First question: If they just go ahead with the appeal, and throw to third, what happens to the runner on first (now on second)?


They can appeal while the ball is live (by throwing over to third and tagging the base) and it will result in an out. in this case it would be the third out and the inning over.

If the batter left early, then he's off the base when the out occurred. The OF throws straight to third base where the third baseman steps on the bag. The umpire should immediately call the runner out. This happens if the runner thinks the ball isn't getting caught and starts to run, then tries to get back to the bag. What is different?


There is no difference. they can do it that way, or do a dead ball appeal after the play is over.



edit: OK, I misunderstood the first situation. The runner takes off after the play is over. Yes, this will result in a loss of appeal should they try to make a throw.

edit 2; Also, dead ball appeals can be verbal. A player or even coach calling time and asking for the appeal is sufficient.
   149. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 16, 2019 at 01:50 PM (#5832461)
It's times like this that one must be tempted to call for a "do over."


One thing I love about volleyball is that calling for a do-over is an official rule.
   150. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: April 16, 2019 at 01:53 PM (#5832463)
First question: If they just go ahead with the appeal, and throw to third, what happens to the runner on first (now on second)?


He's on second, it's a live ball and he's advanced.

Second question (general question, not specific to this scenario): Why is an appeal necessary for tagging up? If the batter left early, then he's off the base when the out occurred. The OF throws straight to third base where the third baseman steps on the bag. The umpire should immediately call the runner out. This happens if the runner thinks the ball isn't getting caught and starts to run, then tries to get back to the bag. What is different?


If the play is ruled dead at some point. Say they make the throw to the plate, the catcher scoops it up and the runner is safe then he freezes the guy at first. The ump calls time, they change out the baseball, all that stuff, now it's a dead ball so they can't do anything until the ball is live again which happens when the pitcher is on the rubber and the ump says "play."
   151. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 16, 2019 at 01:58 PM (#5832466)
now it's a dead ball so they can't do anything until the ball is live again which happens when the pitcher is on the rubber and the ump says "play."


In HS, there is a dead ball appeal. All they have to do is make a verbal appeal that he left early before the ball becomes live to negate any shenanigans. Smart coaches know this. the ones who don't know the rules wait for the ball to become live and sometimes fall susceptible to trickery.
   152. SoSH U at work Posted: April 16, 2019 at 02:01 PM (#5832469)
Why is an appeal necessary for tagging up? If the batter left early, then he's off the base when the out occurred.


Nothing. That will work.

The only question I have is this:

Runners on second and third nobody out, fly ball to center. Both runners tag. The throw comes into the third baseman, who brushes up against the base in the process of trying to apply the tag, but seemingly unaware the lead runner left early.

The third base ump knows the runner left a fraction of a second early. The defensive team was not trying to appeal that he left early.

Would an inadvertent touching of the base constitute an appeal? Misirlou?
   153. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: April 16, 2019 at 02:04 PM (#5832471)
152 - Not Misirlou but as long as the ball is still live I don't see why it wouldn't count. I'll be interested to see what Misirlou has on it though.
   154. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 16, 2019 at 02:05 PM (#5832474)
The third base ump knows the runner left a fraction of a second early. Does an inadvertent touching of the base constitute an appeal? Misirlou?


Yes. That's a fielder tagging a base with the ball in his possession after a runner was off base when a fly ball was caught. No different from a runner getting caught off base when a line drive is caught by the 1B who then steps on first.

edit: Very few things in baseball require intent. The play speaks for itself. If a fielder, with the ball in his possession, touches a base in which a runner left early, that runner is out whether the fielder intended to make that particular play or not.
   155. . Posted: April 16, 2019 at 02:08 PM (#5832476)
I'll never understand why the crouch should matter. Regardless where you start your stance from, most players end up in the same general hitting position anyway.


You're right, and it explicitly isn't the starting position that matters:

The official strike zone is the area over home plate from the midpoint between a batter's shoulders and the top of the uniform pants -- when the batter is in his stance and prepared to swing at a pitched ball -- and a point just below the kneecap. In order to get a strike call, part of the ball must cross over part of home plate while in the aforementioned area.


Pedant alert: I just cut and pasted this from the MLB.com defintion of a strike. It might not be directly verbatim from the rule book. Presumably it's stating the requirements and parameters of the rule accurately.
   156. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: April 16, 2019 at 02:10 PM (#5832477)
The reason we should have a robo-ump for pitch calling is because:

1) There are few things in sports that make a bigger difference in the outcome of a game than the pitch count of an at-bat. The statistics are clear, that BA/OBP/SLG all dramatically change based on whether the count is 2-0 or 1-1, for example.

2) It is also one of the most "stationary", and least subjective, acts in the four major sports. You define the strike zone, and the ball has to cross through that zone as it crosses the plate. The technology exists to do this with virtually 100% accuracy - and certainly more than 93% accuracy.

3) It can be done in a way that not only doesn't slow down the pace of play, but could actually marginally improve the pace, by instantly calling the pitch, and preventing any jawing about it.

There is arguably one sport which has done something very much like a robo ump: The Cyclops in tennis. I remember when the Cyclops first came out, there were concerns that it would detract from the history of the sport, "not at Wimbledon!", stuff like that. It has proven to be very successful, because most serves and shots are called correctly by the referees and umpires, and if there is a key moment or tight call, you know the answer from Cyclops in a couple of seconds. It's like throwing a strike: You hit the tennis ball, and it has to land inside a defined box on the ground. You put lasers around the edges of it, and you move on.

In football, hockey, and basketball, there are multiple people flying around all the time, lots of judgment calls, etc. There really are very few moments in sports like the tennis serve or the baseball pitch that lend themselves so cleanly to this sort of use of technology.
   157. SoSH U at work Posted: April 16, 2019 at 02:12 PM (#5832478)


Yes. That's a fielder tagging a base with the ball in his possession after a runner was off base when a fly ball was caught. No different from a runner getting caught off base when a line drive is caught by the 1B who then steps on first.


Interesting.

The one I've seen differing opinions on is this, but it only seems to make sense one way.

Fly ball to center. Runner from second a fraction early. Throw comes into third. Third baseman makes the tag but late.

To me, in this case, the runner's occupancy of the next base is legal, and the only way he can be retired is by appealing (live or dead) that he left early. That seems to be the only way that can work.

(The more extreme version of this, and where it would lead to confusion, would be if the runner took off as soon as the pitch was hit and it was obvious to all he had left early. But I'd think you would still need to appeal to the previous bag to retire him. Simply tagging while he's standing on the next base shouldn't do the trick).


   158. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 16, 2019 at 02:12 PM (#5832479)
Addendum to 154: Once the play is over and the ball is dead, then I think intent matters. Say there is a runner on third only, and he leaves early on a fly ball. After the play is over, the catcher throws the ball back to the pitcher, but it deflects off his glove towards third base. The 3B picks up the ball while he is standing on 3b and throws it back to the pitcher. This, in and of itself, does not constitute a dead ball appeal, and the runner is not automatically out.
   159. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 16, 2019 at 02:14 PM (#5832480)
Interesting.

The one I've seen differing opinions on is this, but it only seems to make sense one way.

Fly ball to center. Runner from second a fraction early. Throw comes into third. Third baseman makes the tag but late.

To me, in this case, the runner's occupancy of the next base is legal, and the only way he can be retired is by appealing (live or dead) that he left early. That seems to be the only way that can work.

(The more extreme version of this, and where it would lead to confusion, would be if the runner took off as soon as the pitch was hit and it was obvious to all he had left early. But I'd think you would still need to appeal to the previous bag to retire him. Simply tagging while he's standing on the next base shouldn't do the trick).


Ah. I assumed you meant the runner from third left early. If it was the runner from second you were talking about, then no, he is not out and has to be appealed properly.
   160. SoSH U at work Posted: April 16, 2019 at 02:16 PM (#5832481)
Ah. I assumed you meant the runner from third left early. If it was the runner from second you were talking about, then no, he is not out and has to be appealed properly.


No, I was offering a different situation.

In a nutshell, if you leave a base early, can you be tagged out while standing on (or, in the case of home, having already crossed) the next base?
   161. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: April 16, 2019 at 02:23 PM (#5832485)
1) There are few things in sports that make a bigger difference in the outcome of a game than the pitch count of an at-bat. The statistics are clear, that BA/OBP/SLG all dramatically change based on whether the count is 2-0 or 1-1, for example.


I disagree with this. I think it makes a huge difference at bat to at bat but over the course of a game I don't believe that to be the case as I think these calls even out over a game and a season.

3) It can be done in a way that not only doesn't slow down the pace of play, but could actually marginally improve the pace, by instantly calling the pitch, and preventing any jawing about it.


I also disagree with this. This is an assumption that has no basis in fact. We don't know what impact it will have and given the track record of MLB with technology (i.e. replay) there is reason to be skeptical that they will get this right.
   162. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 16, 2019 at 02:30 PM (#5832494)
In a nutshell, if you leave a base early, can you be tagged out while standing on (or, in the case of home, having already crossed) the next base?


No.
   163. SoSH U at work Posted: April 16, 2019 at 02:31 PM (#5832495)
No.


That's what I thought. Someone else who claimed to be an ump said otherwise, but it doesn't seem workable that way.

   164. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 16, 2019 at 02:36 PM (#5832496)
I don't see it in the rule book. The one I'm most familiar with of course is the NFHS rule book for HS. I'm not going to scour the MLB rulebook, but I doubt it's there. A runner leaving early , if not otherwise put out in live play by normal rules, can only be put out by a live (throw to the base and tag it) or dead (throw to the base and tag it, or in the case of HS, verbally, prior to throwing another pitch or making a play) ball appeal. There is no provision for tagging him while legally occupying a base.
   165. bobm Posted: April 16, 2019 at 03:02 PM (#5832502)
[155] Similar definition appears in the MLB rule book:

The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball. (For diagram of STRIKE ZONE see Appendix 5.)
   166. Sunday silence Posted: April 16, 2019 at 03:05 PM (#5832504)
We don't know what impact it will have and given the track record of MLB with technology (i.e. replay) there is reason to be skeptical that they will get this right.


this is the second timee this has been mentioned; but isnt this fundamentally different technology? Its very much like tennis or gymnastics where they are determining the position of an object.

I mean you can't analogize every single improvement under the blanket label of "technology" can you? You wouldnt deny the use of say better bases or better gloves because "MLB cant implement technology correctly." Right? Does it matter what type of technology it is or ALL TECHNOLOGY IS BAD??
   167. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: April 16, 2019 at 03:15 PM (#5832507)
this is the second timee this has been mentioned; but isnt this fundamentally different technology?


It is but at the same time the only data point we have is replay. We are assuming a level of precision that is not there.

My issue is that Manfred has said that currently the margin of error on the automated zones is 2 inches. There is an assumption that this will be implemented and everything will be fine. This is a very complex thing to do and this expectation that it will be easy and smooth sailing is I believe optimistic in the extreme.
   168. Greg Pope Posted: April 16, 2019 at 03:17 PM (#5832510)
only be put out by a live (throw to the base and tag it) or dead (throw to the base and tag it, or in the case of HS, verbally, prior to throwing another pitch or making a play) ball appeal.

I think this helps me understand why they appeal instead of just throwing to the base. If I understand correctly, while the play is live, the defense can just throw to the bag and if the runner left early, he is out. If they wait until the play is dead, then they have to actually appeal.

If the defense were to try to get the runner while the play was live, then other things can happen. So they take the safe route and finish the play, wait until everything is settled, then appeal during the dead time when there's no risk. Is that right?
   169. PreservedFish Posted: April 16, 2019 at 03:17 PM (#5832511)
Misirlou, under what circumstances does a volleyball ref grant a do-over?
   170. SoSH U at work Posted: April 16, 2019 at 03:22 PM (#5832516)
If the defense were to try to get the runner while the play was live, then other things can happen. So they take the safe route and finish the play, wait until everything is settled, then appeal during the dead time when there's no risk. Is that right?


That's part of it, sure. Sometimes, the defense is only made aware of the need for an appeal (whether a left-early or missed base situation) from the dugout, and thus after the play is the only real time to do it.
   171. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 16, 2019 at 03:32 PM (#5832521)
If the defense were to try to get the runner while the play was live, then other things can happen. So they take the safe route and finish the play, wait until everything is settled, then appeal during the dead time when there's no risk. Is that right?


That's correct. It's important to understand how the rule book uses the word appeal in this case. Any live ball throw to the base to tag it is called an appeal. Just that some are more obvious than others. Hit and run play, line drive to the 1B, he catches and steps on first. That second action is a live ball appeal. The "after the play is over, throw to third, step on the base" is a dead ball appeal. They are both appeals, it's just to the layman, only the second action is an appeal, thus the confusion which leads to "Why do they have to appeal when they can just step on the base during play?" The question is meaningless, because stepping on the base during live play IS an appeal.
   172. Sunday silence Posted: April 16, 2019 at 03:37 PM (#5832527)
or what about say electronic tickets? We shouldnt have those cause MLB cant do technology.
   173. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 16, 2019 at 03:39 PM (#5832529)
Misirlou, under what circumstances does a volleyball ref grant a do-over?


Anytime the outcome of the play is unclear. In HS, we use students or parents to referee the lines. The only certified officials are the guy in the chair, and the guy on the floor opposite the chair. Students and parents aren't always the most reliable, so if I didn't get a clear shot, and they either aren't sure or weren't looking, I'll call a do over. Another time in when the R1 (the guy in the chair), and the R2( he guy on the floor), see simultaneous infractions by both sides. Say I saw a net violation (player touches the net) by the serving side, but he saw a different net violation (player's foot crosses the centerline entirely) by the receiving side. Whichever violation occurred first would count, but sometimes it's not possible to know because we are looking at different things.
   174. Sunday silence Posted: April 16, 2019 at 03:44 PM (#5832530)
It is but at the same time the only data point we have is replay. We are assuming a level of precision that is not there.


why wouldnt tennis be a reasonable analogous data pt? The ball moves at similar speed; similar size and similar margins of error...


When yo get to "level of precision" yes I can see your pt. perhaps the Home umpire can rule on pitches on the boundary?
   175. Greg Pope Posted: April 16, 2019 at 03:49 PM (#5832534)
That's correct.

Thanks. I'm also realizing that I don't really know what "live" vs "dead" is. What actually ends the live play? What can happen after the play is dead? And when does the next play start? Can the runners try to move up during dead time?
   176. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 16, 2019 at 03:52 PM (#5832537)
Thanks. I'm also realizing that I don't really know what "live" vs "dead" is.


Dead is anytime the umpire puts his hands in the air signaling time out. It's automatic on foul balls, HBP, or anytime a live ball leaves the field of play. interference by the offense is an automatic dead ball. Obstruction by the defense is a delayed dead ball. In MLB, since they replace the ball every time it hits the ground, after action stops on nearly every play, and sometimes every pitch, it's dead. No runners can advance, no plays can be made, until the umpire signals "play".
   177. pikepredator Posted: April 16, 2019 at 04:11 PM (#5832548)
Hit and run play, line drive to the 1B, he catches and steps on first. That second action is a live ball appeal. The "after the play is over, throw to third, step on the base" is a dead ball appeal. They are both appeals,


This kinda blew my mind . . . and it makes total sense. Thanks for the explanation!
   178. SoSH U at work Posted: April 16, 2019 at 07:05 PM (#5832631)
Thanks. I'm also realizing that I don't really know what "live" vs "dead" is. What actually ends the live play? What can happen after the play is dead? And when does the next play start? Can the runners try to move up during dead time?


Misirlou, isn't it true though that the after-the-play appeal, even if you're describing it as a "dead ball appeal" isn't necessarily taking place under dead ball conditions. The ball may be live, it's just not happening during the course of the previous play.
   179. Sunday silence Posted: April 16, 2019 at 07:19 PM (#5832647)
I disagree with this. I think it makes a huge difference at bat to at bat but over the course of a game I don't believe that to be the case as I think these calls even out over a game and a season.


UNder this reasoning then you would be OK with chimpanzees making random calls at each base cause it will all even out over the course of a season.
   180. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 16, 2019 at 07:41 PM (#5832673)

Misirlou, isn't it true though that the after-the-play appeal, even if you're describing it as a "dead ball appeal" isn't necessarily taking place under dead ball conditions. The ball may be live, it's just not happening during the course of the previous play.


That's right.
   181. Zach Posted: April 16, 2019 at 08:13 PM (#5832698)
The parameters of a strike are defined explicitly in the rules of baseball. There's no such thing as a personalized strike zone. There might be a personalized "strike" zone, but that's an entirely different thing.

By defined, you mean "letters to the knees when the batter is in his normal stance"?

There are three ambiguous terms in that definition, each of which has about a ball's width of uncertainty:

1) The letters are about a ball's width thick
2) The knees are about a ball's width thick
3) Someone settling into their normal stance could shift the distance from letters to knees by about a ball's width in the course of waiting for the pitch.

The rulebook definition of a strike has an assumed error of one or two times the width of the ball.
   182. Zach Posted: April 16, 2019 at 08:26 PM (#5832708)
My issue is that Manfred has said that currently the margin of error on the automated zones is 2 inches.

About a ball's width, in other words.

There's really no point in measuring it more accurately than that. Pitchers can't throw that accurately and batters can't judge the zone that accurately. Pretending you can measure things down to millimeters won't make the game better, but it will certainly make it slower.

With tennis, the point of the replay is that it keeps the players from riding the line judges and slowing up the match, right? But in baseball it's already illegal to argue balls and strikes, so what's the point?
   183. manchestermets Posted: April 17, 2019 at 04:39 AM (#5832772)
When yo get to "level of precision" yes I can see your pt. perhaps the Home umpire can rule on pitches on the boundary?


Doesn't that kind of defeat the point? The supposed benefit of robo-umps is that they're more accurate than the human umps, so what's gained by only having them make the more obvious calls?
   184. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: April 17, 2019 at 07:57 AM (#5832776)
UNder this reasoning then you would be OK with chimpanzees making random calls at each base cause it will all even out over the course of a season.


Not at all, we should try and get it right but implementing a massive change to the way the game has been played for 150 years for what I expect will be little to no benefit and potentially significant reduction in entertainment is not one I am in favor of.
   185. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 17, 2019 at 08:06 AM (#5832778)
But why should a batter be forced to pay attention to which umpire happens to be behind the plate that day?

Andy, U know it was a long time ago, but you played baseball. How is this confusing to you? Knowing how the home plate umpire is calling the strike zone that day is what I'm talking about. Whether he's giving the high or low strike, inside or outside. It's what alert players have been doing forever, not memorizing tendencies (though I assume that would also be in play in the big leagues - probably already is).


Don't laugh, but when I played baseball in the early 60's, there was only one umpire, who stationed himself behind the pitcher. We had no idea who the umpire was going to be on any given day, and anyway, I put the ball in play nearly every time. Almost never struck out and very seldom walked.

In fact the only umpire I remember was in the Walter Johnson League (DC's version of Little League), and the main reason everyone remembers him is that he used to hang out at the playground every day, and that he wound up being a child molester. Nobody forgot Norman Yonan.
   186. Greg Pope Posted: April 17, 2019 at 08:26 AM (#5832779)
it's dead. No runners can advance, no plays can be made, until the umpire signals "play".

Thanks for your clarification. And your patience.

So to call back to the earlier high school situation... Runners at the corners, fly ball, runner on third tags up and scores. Defense thinks the guy left early. They wait until the play is dead. Then they get ready to throw to third. Guy on first takes off, hoping to draw the throw which would eliminate the ability to appeal. The defense should ignore him because he's not allowed to advance anyway.
   187. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 17, 2019 at 11:26 AM (#5832820)
Depends on if time is called or not. If time is called, he cannot advance. If not, he can, but it should be considered part of the original play and not cost the defense the ability to appeal.
   188. Hank Gillette Posted: April 17, 2019 at 08:04 PM (#5833170)
By defined, you mean "letters to the knees when the batter is in his normal stance"?


That’s not the strike zone definition. The official strike zone is:

The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball.


Calculating in real time that midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants might be tough.

The way it is worded, it appears that a batter could reduce the size of his strike zone by crouching, if that is his normal stance.

In the 1960s the top of the strike zone moved from the armpit of the batter to the top of the shoulders and then back to the armpit.
   189. . Posted: April 17, 2019 at 08:14 PM (#5833173)
Necessary pedant alert: The batter can reduce the size of his strike zone by crouching if he keeps the crouch as he's "prepared to swing" at a pitched ball.

Total pedant alert: "Prepared" can't be meant literally, otherwise as the pitch approaches a hitter could dive down flat on his stomach and there would be no strike zone.

I'm going through the pedantry because it impacts how the roto-zone could and should be set. I wasn't quite aware the strike zone definition was this ambiguous. WTF does "prepared" mean? And how do human umps apply it? Application can't be literal. I'm guessing they just assume the hitters all get out of the crouch before they're "prepared" and just judge top to bottom based on standard knee bend. Any other way would seem way too complicated.
   190. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 17, 2019 at 09:06 PM (#5833190)
I know one thing: The Yankees could be using a robo-ump tonight. They've had one ball after another called a strike. The last one on Judge was halfway down his shin.
   191. Greg Pope Posted: April 18, 2019 at 11:43 AM (#5833265)
The way it is worded, it appears that a batter could reduce the size of his strike zone by crouching, if that is his normal stance.

I don't think so. He's waiting for the pitch, but he's not actually prepared* to swing.

*see below

Total pedant alert: "Prepared" can't be meant literally, otherwise as the pitch approaches a hitter could dive down flat on his stomach and there would be no strike zone.

I think it is meant literally. There's no way a player lying down is prepared to swing by any definition.

WTF does "prepared" mean? And how do human umps apply it? Application can't be literal. I'm guessing they just assume the hitters all get out of the crouch before they're "prepared" and just judge top to bottom based on standard knee bend.

This is exactly it. It looks like MLB is writing the rule specifically so that the strike zone can't be gamed by the hitter. If you take "prepared" to be right before the batter actually starts his swing, then basically all MLB players are in the same position. Bagwell and Henderson were fully out of their crouches by the time they started their swing. A player who stood up tall like Mickey Tettleton was actually lower by the time he started his swing.

You could replace "as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball" with something longer like "as the batter is in a position as if they were going to swing, in the split second before the actual swing were to begin, if the batter had chosen to swing". But I think the phrase as-is is pretty good.
   192. SoSH U at work Posted: April 18, 2019 at 11:52 AM (#5833267)
It would simply be easier to determine the strike zone is from the top of the letters (or middle of the letters or wherever you want to put the top end) to the bottom of the knee for the player as he's standing straight up. I don't see why the manner in which a player chooses to hit (which opens the issue up to so much subjectivity based on the various points in the swing, and would likely vary for an individual batter depending on the location of the pitch) should matter.

   193. . Posted: April 18, 2019 at 12:04 PM (#5833270)
I think it is meant literally. There's no way a player lying down is prepared to swing by any definition.


Does a batter even "prepare to swing" on every pitch? What's the strike zone when he's taking all the way on 3-0 and effectively just stands up?

And at that point ... different strike zones for different pitches to the exact same person?
   194. SoSH U at work Posted: April 18, 2019 at 12:06 PM (#5833271)
Does a batter even "prepare to swing" on every pitch? What's the strike zone when he's taking all the way on 3-0 and effectively just stands up?

And at that point ... different strike zones for different pitches to the exact same person?


Exactly. I'm sure a guy swinging at the high strike has a different top-end position than a guy reaching for the low one. Which one is the strike zone when the guy is making no effort to swing?

   195. Greg Pope Posted: April 18, 2019 at 12:12 PM (#5833273)
It would simply be easier to determine the strike zone is from the top of the letters (or middle of the letters or wherever you want to put the top end) to the bottom of the knee for the player as he's standing straight up.

This is true. I've always said that if they implement robo umps then they should just redefine the strike zone as between X and Y percent of the batter's standing height. Figure out what you want for X and Y and be done with it.
   196. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 18, 2019 at 01:22 PM (#5833285)
The ambiguity around the exact dimensions of the strike zone also shows why headlines like "MLB umpires missed 34,294 ball-strike calls in 2018" are misleading. If the rules are ambiguous then it becomes more challenging to say when the umpires actually missed a call with respect to the height of a pitch (horizontally, yes, a pitch is either in or out of the zone and it shouldn't be questionable). I think it's more interesting to know whether umpires are individually consistent in their calls and also whether the various umpires are consistent with each other.
   197. Hank Gillette Posted: April 18, 2019 at 04:21 PM (#5833364)
This is exactly it. It looks like MLB is writing the rule specifically so that the strike zone can't be gamed by the hitter. If you take "prepared" to be right before the batter actually starts his swing, then basically all MLB players are in the same position.


What if you take “prepared” to mean in the batter’s box waiting for the pitch? That sounds as reasonable to me as your interpretation.

Bagwell and Henderson were fully out of their crouches by the time they started their swing.


But at that point, they were not “prepared” to swing, they were in the actual act of swinging. Pedantically speaking.

I looked around a little to see if I was making a fool of myself, and the answer is probably. The majority opinion seems to be that the umpires base the strike zone based on the player’s stance while actually swinging, which is not what the rulebook says, but the strike zone is pretty subjective anyway, so I am not sure it matters.

Rose and Henderson must have thought that they were getting some benefit out of an exaggerated crouch, even if they were wrong.

   198. . Posted: April 18, 2019 at 04:27 PM (#5833367)
Rose and Henderson must have thought that they were getting some benefit out of an exaggerated crouch, even if they were wrong.


The crouch strikes me more as a triggering mechanism, like Sheffield's big ass bat wave. Maybe that's wrong, but it strikes me that the impact on hitting from starting in that position would outweigh any perceived advantage from the smaller strike zone.
   199. Greg Pope Posted: April 18, 2019 at 08:02 PM (#5833397)
But at that point, they were not “prepared” to swing, they were in the actual act of swinging. Pedantically speaking.

Not really. If they actually swing, then there's no issue because the umpire doesn't have to make a call. But look at film. All batters start their process when the pitcher throws the ball. By the time the ball crosses the plate, Bagwell and Henderson were in "normal" positions even when they took the pitch.
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