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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The Strike Zone Is Imperfect, but Mostly Unchanged

Okay, we have our first finding: on pitches that are off the plate but close, umpires are calling strikes at roughly similar rates compared to last year. How about pitches that miss by more than that? They basically don’t get called strikes, but the rates are similar from year to year. Though I’m not willing to take a strong stance given the limitations of a two-dimensional strike zone with moving top and bottom, I think it’s fair to say there’s no evidence of a change here.

What about pitches in the zone being called balls? That’s a slightly trickier calculation, but I used the same rough idea. Take the pitch’s location, add in the width of the baseball, then find the nearest edge of the strike zone — the distance to that edge is how far into the strike zone the pitch was. Pitches that just clipped the zone — between 0 and 0.5 inches from the edge — have been called strikes 61.2% of the time this year. Last year, they were called strikes 62.5% of the time.

Get further into the zone, and umpires call strikes more frequently — pitches that were in the zone by between 0.5 and 1.5 inches have been called strikes 75.4% of the time this year, as compared to 76% last year. Past that, it’s less automatic than you’d think, though still fairly automatic, to the tune of an 86.8% called strike rate on pitches in the zone by between 1.5 and 2.5 inches. That compares to 88% in 2020.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 21, 2021 at 03:17 PM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: umpiring

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