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MLB considering shrinking the strike zone in 2016


reillymcshane
Brewer Fanatic Contributor

ESPN has an article about how MLB is looking at shrinking the strike zone in 2016. This would be to counter the lower scoring in the game.

 

http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/12320861/major-league-baseball-shrink-strike-zone-2016-report-says

 

A lot of people are saying that the strike zone has expanded since the PITCHf/x system that was implemented a few years back. While its made umpires more consistent, it's essentially lowered the strike zone a few inches.

 

Here's an in depth look at the shrinking strike zone from Grantland:

 

http://grantland.com/the-triangle/mlb-larger-strike-zone-declining-offense/

 

Personally, I like the idea of raising the strike zone a bit.

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Didn't we just raise the top of the strike zone like about 8 years ago?

 

I'm all for taking pitches and working the count but sometimes guys just need to swing the bat. When you get to 2 strikes you need to protect the plate. Hitters today seem like they're content to go down looking and chalk it up to "looking for something else." Just swing the darn bat.

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We forced umps to start calling the strike zone in accordance to the rules. That resulted in a rise in the top of the strike zone. The last time the strike zone was changed we moved the bottom from the top of the knees to below the knees. Maybe he's thinking of moving it back.

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We forced umps to start calling the strike zone in accordance to the rules. That resulted in a rise in the top of the strike zone. The last time the strike zone was changed we moved the bottom from the top of the knees to below the knees. Maybe he's thinking of moving it back.

 

Good point. And with Questech or whatever system they use now veteran pitchers aren't getting extra inches on the corner which is actually making the zone smaller, but yet offense is still going down.

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If you look at the Zone% stat on Fangraphs which measures the percentage of strikes within the strike zone (Pitches in the strike zone/total pitches) since the start of the Pitch f/x era (going back to 2002), one of the clearest trends is that the percentage within the zone has been consistently decreasing over the years.

 

2005: 55.1%

2002: 54.6%

2005: 53.8%

2006: 52.6%

2003: 51.4%

2008: 51.1%

2007: 50.3%

2009: 49.3%

2010: 46.5%

2011: 45.3%

2014: 44.9%

2012: 44.9%

2013: 44.7%

 

Am I missing something? Doesn't that imply the strike zone has already been shrinking, and that isn't the "problem" with decreasing offense?

 

The other clear trend is that the O-Swing% (percentage of pitches outside the zone that batters swing at) has consistently increased dramatically, from a low in 2004 of 16.6% to a high in 2013 of 31.3%. Batters are swinging at almost twice as many pitches outside the strike zone as they were ten years ago, that is a huge increase. How does this rule change help?

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They want more balls put in play. All these strikeouts=no action. They'd also like to see more singles hence the talk of banning the shifts. Hitters don't swing at pitches at the bottom of the knees because they can't drive those pitches and with the shifts. they are automatic outs. Take those pitches away from the pitchers.

 

Baseball is much more exciting to watch when there's action. It was a better game 30-40 years ago.

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They should just have Pitch/fx call balls and strikes and use the home plate ump for everything else he normally does during a game.
"Dustin Pedroia doesn't have the strength or bat speed to hit major-league pitching consistently, and he has no power......He probably has a future as a backup infielder if he can stop rolling over to third base and shortstop." Keith Law, 2006
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They want more balls put in play. All these strikeouts=no action. They'd also like to see more singles hence the talk of banning the shifts. Hitters don't swing at pitches at the bottom of the knees because they can't drive those pitches and with the shifts. they are automatic outs. Take those pitches away from the pitchers.

 

Baseball is much more exciting to watch when there's action. It was a better game 30-40 years ago.

 

If the score is 50-10 there was plenty of action but probably a boring game to watch. Baseball is much more exciting when the game is close not simply because there is a lot of scoring. Maybe it's just me but baseball isn't about action. It's about suspense. Keep the game close where every pitch matters and you have an exciting good game.

 

What I don't get is they are trying to shorten games yet want to shrink the strike zone and talked about eliminating defensive shifts. So essentially they are trying to shorten the game while simultaneously making it harder to get outs. Makes sense to me.

There needs to be a King Thames version of the bible.
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They want more balls put in play. All these strikeouts=no action. They'd also like to see more singles hence the talk of banning the shifts. Hitters don't swing at pitches at the bottom of the knees because they can't drive those pitches and with the shifts. they are automatic outs. Take those pitches away from the pitchers.

 

Baseball is much more exciting to watch when there's action. It was a better game 30-40 years ago.

 

Going by what SRB posted it looks to me like the issue is batters. They are swinging at more bad pitches and getting themselves out.

 

It's probably time for another expansion to dilute pitching talent.

Fan is short for fanatic.

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Baseball is much more exciting when the game is close not simply because there is a lot of scoring. Maybe it's just me but baseball isn't about action. It's about suspense. Keep the game close where every pitch matters and you have an exciting good game.

 

I agree in principle but I think the recent changes to the game have taken away suspense for the most part. Speciality relief pitching has made the late innings boring. Late-inning comebacks are decreasing: offense in the 7th inning or later is less than the worst of the deadball era. There isn't much suspense when a team has a handful of relievers that strike out more than a third of the batters they face.

 

The way to get more suspense (besides having more evenly matched teams) is to have better starting pitching than relief pitching. Changing the rules to get rid of the "one out guys" would help weaken relief pitching. There are other possibilities as well--e.g. allowing a position player to re-enter the game as a pinch hitter.

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Baseball is much more exciting when the game is close not simply because there is a lot of scoring. Maybe it's just me but baseball isn't about action. It's about suspense. Keep the game close where every pitch matters and you have an exciting good game.

 

What I don't get is they are trying to shorten games yet want to shrink the strike zone and talked about eliminating defensive shifts. So essentially they are trying to shorten the game while simultaneously making it harder to get outs. Makes sense to me.

 

 

Amen! It's not just you. I get so tired of this argument that the game needs more offense in order to make it interesting.

 

The low strike zone has also trickled down to youth baseball. I coached my son's team when he played youth baseball (up until 3 years ago) and there were several umpires that would not call a strike on any pitches above the belt. I would hear other coaches say to the players, "Ok, be aware, this umpire has a low strike zone". I even had umpires tell me that they have a low strike zone. My opinion was No, the strike zone is the strike zone. It's defined in the rule book. You can't just make up your own strike zone. It's like saying "Ok, be aware, this umpire only allows 2 outs per inning."

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What the umpires define as a strike has grown over the past five years or so.

 

Hardball Times has a nice graph (one for lefties and one for righties). The box area in the graphs are for reference only. They don't represent what should be the strike zone:

 

http://www.hardballtimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/LHH-2009-2014-w-title.png

 

http://www.hardballtimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/RHH-2009-2014-w-title.png

 

On the whole, the strike zone has grown by 39 square inches since 2008, getting bigger each year.

 

http://www.hardballtimes.com/the-strike-zone-expansion-is-out-of-control/

 

As you can see in the above images, the major growth is at the bottom of the strike zone. The sides of the strike zone have actually contracted a little (particularly against left handed hitters). But the bottom has grown a full three inches at the bottom - roughly the size of a baseball.

 

The large strike zone forces hitters to have to protect a larger area. This probably means more guessing on the part of the hitter, more swinging at borderline pitchers. Guys with slower bat speed are likely hurt most. They have to commit earlier to swinging than in the past.

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The top is still too low if you ask me.

 

And as much as MLB works their PR machine through the likes of Olney, there is a 9th inning strike zone, a LH batter strike zone, a 3-0 count strike zone, a veteran with a reputation for a good eye (or just complains endlessly) strike zone, a rookie strike zone, same for veteran and rookie pitchers, et cetera.

 

Stop grading umpires on the marshmallow of an expanded strike zone they use. Watch where their 8 free misses (or whatever it is) that they're allowed occur. If they're in critical situations or they can't call the actual strike zone, GET RID OF THEM.

 

If you can't move them into an administrative position, pay them for life to stay home. You're a monopoly choking on money.

 

One thing I know won't happen: Manfred won't criticize the awful contract Selig signed with the umpires.

Formerly AKA Pete
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What the umpires define as a strike has grown over the past five years or so.

 

Hardball Times has a nice graph (one for lefties and one for righties). The box area in the graphs are for reference only. They don't represent what should be the strike zone:

 

On the whole, the strike zone has grown by 39 square inches since 2008, getting bigger each year.

 

http://www.hardballtimes.com/the-strike-zone-expansion-is-out-of-control/

 

As you can see in the above images, the major growth is at the bottom of the strike zone. The sides of the strike zone have actually contracted a little (particularly against left handed hitters). But the bottom has grown a full three inches at the bottom - roughly the size of a baseball.

 

The large strike zone forces hitters to have to protect a larger area. This probably means more guessing on the part of the hitter, more swinging at borderline pitchers. Guys with slower bat speed are likely hurt most. They have to commit earlier to swinging than in the past.

 

The graphs would be a lot more meaningful if they superimposed the rule book defined strike zone over the plotted area (Although, I guess it might be hard to do this because it depends on a batter's height). Just because the umpire called strike zone has grown does not mean that its wrong. In fact, I would not be surprised if the current called zone is still smaller than the strike zone that is defined in the rule book.

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Crazy idea I know, but why don't they use the strike zone from the...I don't know...Rule Book? Just observation, but it seems to me strike zone has moved down over the years. A pitch at the letters is almost never a strike (and should be) and a pitch below the knees is almost always a strike (and shouldn't be.) Especially change-ups are consistently called strikes just below the knees. Heck, even near the ankles.

 

This tinkering with the game to shorten it and/or cause more runs to be scored is aggravating. Look, you either enjoy baseball or you don't. No matter what they do, it will not have the constant action that football and basketball provide. You could make every game 14-11 and done in two hours, and casual fans would still not be any more interested than they are now.

 

Baseball is not on a clock, and it never should be. The one thing they could do to speed things up would be eliminate instant replay, and that would be fine by me.

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This tinkering with the game to shorten it and/or cause more runs to be scored is aggravating. Look, you either enjoy baseball or you don't. No matter what they do, it will not have the constant action that football and basketball provide. You could make every game 14-11 and done in two hours, and casual fans would still not be any more interested than they are now.

 

Totally agree. Instead of trying to be more like football or basketball try appealing to what makes baseball so addicting to follow. It is America's past time not America's edge of your seat, locked in to every second of the three hours, for fear of missing something time. I love listening to the games while outside playing with my dog or doing something more than sitting in the house on a beautiful summer day watching it. Yet on days when there isn't a game on I feel like part of my day is missing. If they would cater more to fans who see baseball as a major part of their daily routine as opposed to fans who want edge of your seat excitement for a couple hours they would end up with a far larger fan base IMHO.

There needs to be a King Thames version of the bible.
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The rules say that a pitch is a strike "if any part of the ball passes through any part of the strike zone." 5-10 years ago, I think umpires called the low strike if most or all of the ball traveled through the strike zone. Today, I think the umpires are actually calling the strikes more correctly (at least on the sides and the bottom of the zone). Thus when the top of the ball passes through the bottom of the strike zone, it's a strike - even if most of the ball comes in below the knee.

 

I apologize for not having a link to this, but I believe I read that ever since the electronic scoring has been implemented umpires have gotten a higher percentage of 'correct' scores with each successive year with regard to calling balls and strikes. The umps, wanting better scores, have adjusted accordingly as the scores matter to their job performance rating. Again, sorry I don't have documentation for this.

 

From a visual perspective, I certainly think the strike zone has dropped. And I think it's affected how the game is played. I believe I used Mark Reynolds as an example earlier this year. I think the drop in the strike zone really affected him over the years. He's got a longer swing. As the zone has increased, he's gotten worse because he needs to protect a greater area. If he didn't have to worry about that 3-inch zone at the bottom of the plate, he would have less plate to cover, not have to commit to swinging as early, and could sit more on a pitch he likes. Just a theory.

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This tinkering with the game to shorten it and/or cause more runs to be scored is aggravating. Look, you either enjoy baseball or you don't. No matter what they do, it will not have the constant action that football and basketball provide. You could make every game 14-11 and done in two hours, and casual fans would still not be any more interested than they are now.

 

Totally agree. Instead of trying to be more like football or basketball try appealing to what makes baseball so addicting to follow. It is America's past time not America's edge of your seat, locked in to every second of the three hours, for fear of missing something time. I love listening to the games while outside playing with my dog or doing something more than sitting in the house on a beautiful summer day watching it. Yet on days when there isn't a game on I feel like part of my day is missing. If they would cater more to fans who see baseball as a major part of their daily routine as opposed to fans who want edge of your seat excitement for a couple hours they would end up with a far larger fan base IMHO.

 

Agree as well, even at the risk looking like the old codger that it constantly reminiscing about how things were "back in my day". Unfortunately, I fear that money will drive baseball's desire to appeal to the masses. I know this will sound condescending to those who feel the games needs more offense, but I can't help but think of the movie "Idiocracy" when it comes to these kind of topics. I guess maybe I'm just turning into my dad. Last year, at age 84, he finally decided that it was time for him to stop going to ball games with me and my son. Just too much "commotion" for him. Most times he would just shake his head and roll his eyes at all the in between innings "entertainment", walk-up song music, and just sound bites in general (after every foul ball, walk, strikeout, etc). I could see the disdain on his face as we walked by the half drunk (or fully drunk) tailgaters on the way in and as he saw all the people staring at their phones during the game. I could count on him always uttering something like "Does anyone actually come to the ballpark to watch the game any more?" The older I get and the more I see traditions dying (not only in sports, but in other areas of life), the more I feel his pain.

User in-game thread post in 1st inning of 3rd game of the 2022 season: "This team stinks"

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Same here Patrick. Neither my dad or father-in-law have any interest in going to Miller Park anymore. Too loud, too much antics and music constantly going on. I get the sausage race, it's become a tradition. I could even get behind Bernie slide if the mascot wasn't so strange looking, and still slid into a beer stein. Other than that, you can keep the rest. Can't we just watch the game?

 

Let's just be done with it, if people want 18-15 games, let the players use aluminum bats.

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What the umpires define as a strike has grown over the past five years or so.

 

Hardball Times has a nice graph (one for lefties and one for righties). The box area in the graphs are for reference only. They don't represent what should be the strike zone:

 

http://www.hardballtimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/LHH-2009-2014-w-title.png

 

http://www.hardballtimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/RHH-2009-2014-w-title.png

 

On the whole, the strike zone has grown by 39 square inches since 2008, getting bigger each year.

 

http://www.hardballtimes.com/the-strike-zone-expansion-is-out-of-control/

 

As you can see in the above images, the major growth is at the bottom of the strike zone. The sides of the strike zone have actually contracted a little (particularly against left handed hitters). But the bottom has grown a full three inches at the bottom - roughly the size of a baseball.

 

The large strike zone forces hitters to have to protect a larger area. This probably means more guessing on the part of the hitter, more swinging at borderline pitchers. Guys with slower bat speed are likely hurt most. They have to commit earlier to swinging than in the past.

 

I wonder which way the causation flows though, I don't think anyone can say for sure. If the league is full of guys with great plate discipline, and nobody is swinging at certain pitches, it's going to influence whether umpires call those pitches balls. Likewise, if the entire league is more free-swinging and most people swing at a certain pitch, and you don't, the umpire is going to be more likely to call that a strike.

 

I think the league as a whole just has much worse hitters currently.

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