Major League Baseball Strike Zone

One of the most-discussed issues in Major League Baseball is the consistency of the strike zone. The rule-book strike zone states “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.” After watching games throughout the regular season and playoffs, it is easy to realize this is not the strike zone that is called. Each umpire has tendencies and dictates his own strike zone and how he will call a game. With the rise of PITCHf/x and Trackman in the last few years, umpires have been increasingly monitored and judged for their accuracy and impartiality. For this reason, umpires are criticized for incorrect calls more than ever before and I believe are now trending towards enforcing the rule-book strike zone more than in years past.

The purpose of this research will be to do two things. First, I will focus on identifying overarching themes where I look at finding how umpires are adjusting to modern technology but also how the rule-book strike zone is not the strike zone we know. After this, I will dive into a few umpire-specific tendencies. The latter would be helpful to teams in preparing their advance reports by knowing how certain umpires call “their” strike zone dictated by situations in a game. CONTINUE READING, by  , Fangraphs

Every major-league game you watch, ball-tracking technology is used to deliver live views of where the ball passes through the strike zone. This is an entertaining and seemingly unbiased image of where the ball traveled through the zone. As a result, it’s no surprise that there’s been a steadily increasing call to replace the home plate umpire and rely entirely on machine measurements to call balls and strikes in real time, i.e. a “Robo Zone” or “Robot Umps.”

The reality, however, is that there are myriad issues with implementing a ball-and-strike-calling system like this for real games. The primary issue is that using machine measurements to call balls and strikes will simply shift disagreements with the call from the umpire to the machine, or to the machine’s operators.

People watching a game also tend to forget that their viewing perspective alters how the pitch appears to them, which can create the same animosity when the machine report does not match what people believe they saw. Your perception of the pitch can change significantly depending on whether your point of view is from beyond the outfield wall, or from the perspective of pitcher, umpire, or batter.

In order to fully assess the implications of embracing our mechanical strike zone-judging overlords, we’ll take a look at the issue from two standpoints. First, we’ll look at the potential issues that could limit or impact the implementation of the technology, followed by an assessment on the impact the switch would have on the game. CONTINUE READING, by , and 

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