Strike zone

In baseball, the strike zone is the volume of space through which a pitch must pass in order to be called a strike, if the batter does not swing. The strike zone is defined as the volume of space above home plate and between the batter's knees and the midpoint of their torso. Whether a pitch passes through the zone is decided by an umpire, who is generally positioned behind the catcher.

Strikes are desirable for the pitcher and the fielding team, as three strikes result in a strikeout of that batter. A pitch that misses the strike zone is called a ball (only if the batter doesn't swing). Balls are desirable for the batter and the batting team, as four balls allow the batter to take a "walk" to first base as a base on balls.

Strike zone en
A labelled drawing of the strike zone superimposed onto an image from a game, showing a batter, catcher and umpire. The batter attempts to hit a baseball pitched by the pitcher (not pictured) to the catcher; and the umpire decides whether pitches are balls or strikes.

Definition

Multiple sets of rules govern baseball and softball, which define the strike zone slightly differently. The rulebook in use depends on the level and league.

The Major League Official Rules defines the top of the strike zone at the midpoint between the top of the batter's shoulders and the top of the uniform pants. The bottom of the strike zone is at the hollow beneath the kneecap, both determined from the batter's stance as the batter is prepared to swing at the pitched ball. The right and left boundaries of the strike zone correspond to the edges of home plate. A pitch that touches the outer boundary of the zone is as much a strike as a pitch that is thrown right down the center. A pitch at which the batter does not swing and which does not pass through the strike zone is called a ball (short for "no ball"). The active tally of strikes and balls during a player's turn batting is called the count.

The strike zone is a volume of space delimited by vertical planes extending up from the pentagonal boundaries of the home plate and limited at the top and bottom by upper and lower horizontal planes passing through the horizontal lines of the definition above. This volume thus takes the form of a vertical right pentagonal prism located above home plate. A pitch passing outside the front of the defined volume of the strike zone but curving so as to enter this volume farther back (without being hit) is described as a "back-door strike".

Major League Baseball has occasionally increased or reduced the size of the strike zone in an attempt to control the balance of power between pitchers and hitters.[1] After the record home run year by Roger Maris in 1961, the major leagues increased the size of the strike zone from the top of the batter's shoulders to the bottom of his knees.[2] In 1968, pitchers such as Denny McLain and Bob Gibson among others dominated hitters, producing 339 shutouts.[1] Carl Yastrzemski would be the only American League hitter to finish the season with a batting average higher than .300.[1] In the National League, Gibson posted a 1.12 earned run average, the lowest in 54 years, while Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale threw a record 58 and two-thirds consecutive scoreless innings during the 1968 season.[1] As a result of the dropping offensive statistics, Major League Baseball took steps to reduce the advantage held by pitchers by lowering the height of the pitcher's mound from 15 inches to 10 inches, and by reducing the size of the strike zone for the 1969 season.[3]

Although the de facto enforced strike zone can vary, the Official Rules (Definitions of Terms, STRIKE (b)) define a pitch as a strike "if any part of the ball passes through any part of the strike zone."

A batter who accumulates three strikes in a single batting appearance has struck out and is ruled out (with the exception of an uncaught third strike); a batter who accumulates four balls in a single appearance has drawn a base on balls (or walk) and is awarded advancement to first base. In very early iterations of the rules during the 19th century, it took up to 9 balls for a batter to earn a walk; however, to make up for this, the batter could request the ball to be pitched high, low, or medium.[4]

Enforcement

While baseball rules provide a precise definition for the strike zone, in practice, it is up to the judgment of the umpire to decide whether the pitch passed through the zone.

The Official Baseball Rules (Rule 8.02(a), including Comment) state that objections to judgment calls on the field, including balls and strikes, shall not be tolerated, and that any manager, coach, or player who leaves his dugout or field position to contest a judgment call will first be warned, and then ejected.[5]

Many umpires, players and analysts, including the authors of a University of Nebraska study on the subject,[6] believe that due to the QuesTec pitch-tracking system, the enforced strike zone in 2002–2006 was larger compared to the zone in 1996–2000 and thus closer to the rulebook definition. Some commentators, such as Tim Roberts of covers.com, believe that the zone has changed so much that some pitchers, such as Tom Glavine, have had to radically adjust their approach to pitching for strikes.[7] In 2003, a frustrated Curt Schilling took a baseball bat to a QuesTec camera and destroyed it after a loss, saying the umpires shouldn't be changing the strike zone to match the machines.[8]

In 2009, a new system called Zone Evaluation was implemented in all 30 Major League ballparks, replacing the QuesTec system; the new system records the ball's position in flight more than 20 times before it reaches home plate.[9] Much of the early resistance from Major League umpires to QuesTec had diminished and the implementation of the new Zone Evaluation system in all the parks went largely unnoticed. Like the old system, the new system will be used to grade umpires on accuracy and used to determine which umpires receive postseason assignments.[10]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d "1968: Year of the Pitcher". thisgreatgame.com. Archived from the original on 24 December 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
  2. ^ "Expanded strike zone unveiled". The Press-Courier. Associated Press. 8 March 1963. p. 9. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
  3. ^ "McLain Says Lower Mound Will Take Toll of Pitchers". The Telegraph-Herald. Associated Press. 14 January 1969. p. 13. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
  4. ^ "What An MLB Strike Zone Really Looks Like And Why Players Are Always So Mad About It". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  5. ^ "Official Baseball Rules, 2018" (PDF). Major League Baseball. Retrieved 2018-06-20.
  6. ^ Newswise Social and Behavioral Sciences News | Larger Strike Zone, Drug Testing Reduced Hitting in Baseball Since 2000
  7. ^ Umpires and totals: Men behind the mask occasionally steal the show
  8. ^ D'backs' Schilling fined for destroying QuesTec camera
  9. ^ Monitor May Reopen Wounds, an April 2009 article from The New York Times
  10. ^ Preview 2009: The umpires' arbiter from an April 2009 Star Tribune article

Further reading

  • Gammons, Peter (April 6, 1987). "What Ever Happened to the Strike Zone?". Sports Illustrated. 66 (14): 36–40, 45–46.

External links

Breaking ball

In baseball, a breaking ball is a pitch that does not travel straight as it approaches the batter; it will have sideways or downward motion on it, sometimes both (see slider). A breaking ball is not a specific pitch by that name, but is any pitch that "breaks", such as a curveball, slider, or slurve. A pitcher who primarily uses breaking ball pitches is often referred to as a junkballer.

A breaking ball is more difficult than a straight pitch for a catcher to receive as breaking pitches sometimes hit the ground (whether intentionally, or not) before making it to the plate. A curveball moves down and to the left for a right handed pitcher. For a left hand pitcher, it moves down and to the right. And blocking a breaking ball requires thought and preparation by the catcher. The pitcher then, must have confidence in the catcher, and the catcher in himself, to block any ball in the dirt; if there are runners on base, they will likely advance if the ball gets away from the catcher. (Whether the pitcher is right- or left-handed will dictate which direction the catcher must turn his body to adjust for the spin of an upcoming breaking ball. This necessary movement may reveal the next intended pitch to the batter; therefore an experienced catcher must fake or mask his intentions when preparing for the pitch.)

If a breaking ball fails to break, it is called a "hanging" breaking ball, or specifically, a "hanging" curve. The "hanger" presents a high, slow pitch that is easy for the batter to see, and often results in an extra-base hit or a home run.

Don Mattingly wrote in Don Mattingly's Hitting Is Simple: The ABC's of Batting .300 that "hitting a breaking ball is one of the toughest things you'll have to learn" due to the ball's very brief window in the strike zone.

Brushback pitch

In baseball, a brushback pitch is a pitch–usually a fastball–thrown high and inside the strike zone to intimidate the batter away from the plate on subsequent pitches. It differs from the beanball in that the intent is not to hit the batter, nor does it target the batter's head. Hitters will often crowd the plate in order to have a better swing at pitches on the outside half of the plate. The hitters hope that the pitcher will be scared to throw inside because they might hit the batter. The brushback helps a pitcher to "reclaim" the corners of the strike zone by forcing the batter to stand farther away.

Play-by-play announcers sometimes call a high brushback pitch as being "high and tight." It is also referred to as chin music.

While the brushback can be an effective part of pitching, the home plate umpire may warn or eject a pitcher he feels is intentionally trying to hit a batter.

Checked swing

A checked swing is a type of motion in baseball made by a batter. A checked swing occurs when a batter starts to swing the bat at the ball, but stops the swing in order to allow the ball to pass without hitting it. If the swing was indeed checked, so that there was no swing, and if the bat did not touch the ball and it did not go through the strike zone, the pitch counts as a ball; but in that circumstance if the swing was not checked, so that a swing occurred, then the pitch counts as a strike.

Initially, the home plate umpire must determine if a swing was checked or not checked. If the umpire indicates that it was checked, an appeal can be made by the catcher or their manager, and the home plate umpire can then make a request to either the 1st or 3rd base umpire to make the call as to whether the swing was indeed checked. (To maximize visibility, the 1st base umpire makes the call for right-handed batters, and the 3rd base umpire for left-handed batters.) To indicate a checked swing, the umpire will make a "safe" gesture with their hands; to indicate a full swing, they will clench their fist.

If a ball that passes the batter goes through the strike zone, it is a strike even if a swing is checked. A checked swing sometimes results in an unintentional swinging bunt, where the ball hits the bat and rolls a short distance, even though the batter apparently stopped their swing. If a ball is hit during a checked swing, it is in play as long as it is not ruled a foul ball.

The Major League Baseball rulebook does not contain an official definition for a checked swing, but defines a swing as "an attempt to strike at the ball". It is the decision of the umpire as to whether an attempt was made or not. Generally, factors such as whether the bat passes the front of the plate or the batter pulls their wrists back are considered in the ruling. Some umpires prefer to use the "breaking the wrists" criterion as the method to decide a checked swing: if the wrists "rolled over", a swing occurred.

Checked swinging can also be used in some warm-up exercises, such as the game pepper.

Count (baseball)

In baseball and softball, the count refers to the number of balls and strikes a batter has in his current plate appearance. It is usually announced as a pair of numbers, for example, 3-1 (pronounced as "three and one," or, alternatively, "a three-one count"), with the first number being the number of balls and the second being the number of strikes. An individual pitch may also be referred to by the count prior to its delivery, for example, a pitch thrown with a count of three balls and one strike would be called a "three-one pitch." A count of 1-1 or 2-2 is called even. Zero is commonly pronounced "oh," although a 0-0 count is rarely expressed as such — the count is typically not mentioned until at least one pitch has been thrown.

Glossary of tropical cyclone terms

The following is a glossary of tropical cyclone terms.

Hit by pitch

In baseball, hit by pitch (HBP) is an event in which a batter or his clothing or equipment (other than his bat) is struck directly by a pitch from the pitcher; the batter is called a hit batsman (HB). A hit batsman is awarded first base, provided that (in the plate umpire's judgment) he made an honest effort to avoid the pitch, although failure to do so is rarely called by an umpire. Being hit by a pitch is often caused by a batter standing too close to, or "crowding", home plate.

Inside pitching

In baseball, inside pitching is a tactic used by pitchers. It involves throwing a pitch close to the batter to make it more difficult to swing their bat, and result in making less solid contact, known as "jamming the hitter." Pitchers with good control are usually more likely to pitch effectively on the inside. It is possible to be effective at disrupting the hitter while also being in the strike zone. When employed correctly, this can result in making a hitter hit pop flys or weak ground balls; also, rarely, it causes them to break bats. Depending on the exact height, location, and/or type of pitch, it can result in a brushback pitch, or, in the case of a badly controlled pitch, a hit batter. Despite the dangers that it poses to batters, it is a common and legal tactic.

Intentional base on balls

In baseball, an intentional base on balls, usually referred to as an intentional walk and denoted in baseball scorekeeping by IBB, is a walk issued to a batter by a pitcher with the intent of removing the batter's opportunity to swing at the pitched ball. A pitch that is intentionally thrown far outside the strike zone for this purpose is referred to as an intentional ball.

Beginning with the 2017 season, Major League Baseball has removed the requirement to throw four intentional balls. In MLB and in amateur baseball, such as high school and college games, and in most levels of Little League Baseball, the manager of the team on the field now simply asks the plate umpire to let the batter go to first base.

List of Major League Baseball career intentional bases on balls leaders

In baseball, an intentional base on balls, usually referred to as an intentional walk and denoted in baseball scorekeeping by IBB, is a base on balls (walk) issued to a batter by a pitcher with the intent of removing the batter's opportunity to swing at the pitched ball. A pitch that is intentionally thrown far outside the strike zone for this purpose is referred to as an intentional ball.

Barry Bonds is the all-time leader in intentional bases on balls with 688 career. Bonds is the only player to be intentionally walked more than 400 times. Albert Pujols is second all time and the active leader with 311 career intentional bases on balls and the only other player to be intentionally walked over 300 times.

MLB Network

The MLB Network is an American television sports channel dedicated to baseball. It is primarily owned by Major League Baseball, with AT&T's WarnerMedia News & Sports, Comcast's NBC Sports Group, Charter Communications, and Cox Communications having minority ownership.The channel's headquarters and studios are located at their facilities in Secaucus, New Jersey,, which formerly housed MSNBC's studios. MLB Network's studios also house NHL Network, with some studio sharing, which came under the management of MLB Advanced Media in mid-2015 and transferred most operations from the network's former Toronto home base.

Tony Petitti, former executive producer of CBS Sports, was named the network's first president. Petitti served as MLB Network's president until December 2014, when he was appointed as Chief Operating Officer of Major League Baseball. Rob McGlarry, who worked as Senior and later Executive Vice-president of Business Affairs at MLB Network since 2009, was named the network's second president.As of February 2015, MLB Network is available to approximately 69,991,000 pay television households (60.1% of subscription television customers) in the United States.

Pitcher

In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throws the baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter, who attempts to either make contact with the pitched ball or draw a walk. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the pitcher is assigned the number 1. The pitcher is often considered the most important player on the defensive side of the game, and as such is situated at the right end of the defensive spectrum. There are many different types of pitchers, such as the starting pitcher, relief pitcher, middle reliever, lefty specialist, setup man, and the closer.

Traditionally, the pitcher also bats. Starting in 1973 with the American League and spreading to further leagues throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the hitting duties of the pitcher have generally been given over to the position of designated hitter, a cause of some controversy. The National League in Major League Baseball and the Japanese Central League are among the remaining leagues that have not adopted the designated hitter position.

Slap bunt

Slap bunting is an offensive baseball and softball technique described as "the idea behind the skill is to hit the ball to a place on the infield that's farthest from the place where the out needs to be made".To execute slap bunting, the player is almost always in the back of the left-hand side of home plate, feet slightly open to right field, and choked up slightly on the bat. The moment the pitch is released from the pitcher's hand, the player must rotate his hips toward the pitcher and then cross his back (left) foot over his front foot, moving up to the very front edge of the batter's box. His shoulders should face the pitcher at this point. If the pitch is in the strike zone, the batter should then extend his arms so that the bat is at the correct angle for where he wants to place the ball — the barrel trailing the hands if he wants the ball to go to the left side of the field, and the opposite if he wants it to go to the right.

The technique is quite common in softball because of the difficulty of getting a hit with a pitcher only 40 feet (12 m) away. By already being in the front of the batter's box with the batter's body turned halfway toward first base, the batter already has some momentum toward first base and might be in better position to get a base hit.The technique is often successful in sacrifice circumstances, where the placement of the ball could help advance a runner already on base. It is also often used when batters are having difficulty getting a hit off of a difficult pitcher, or when they have a better opportunity of getting on base because of the slap bunt than a hit, perhaps because of the player's running speed.

Some advanced players might perform a slap hit, which is the same technique except that the player swings to place the ball in an infield hole or over the infielders' heads.

Slider

In baseball, a slider is a breaking ball pitch that tails laterally and down through the batter's hitting zone; it is thrown with less speed than a fastball but greater than the pitcher's curveball.

The break on the pitch is shorter than that of the curveball, and the release technique is 'between' those of a curveball and a fastball. The slider is similar to the cutter, a fastball pitch, but is more of a breaking ball than the cutter. The slider is also known as a yakker or a snapper.

Sunset Station (hotel and casino)

Sunset Station is a hotel and casino. It is owned and operated by Station Casinos on 98 acres (40 ha) located in Henderson, Nevada. Sunset Station is an off-strip locals casino located on Sunset Road near Interstate 515, across from the Galleria at Sunset shopping center.The resort includes a 21-story hotel tower with 448 rooms, 13,000 sq ft (1,200 m2) of meeting space, slot machines, table games, a 13-screen movie theater, a 542-seat bingo hall, a 72-lane bowling alley open 24 hours a day, a 5,000-seat outdoor amphitheater and nine restaurants.

The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast is an American news and opinion website focused on politics and pop culture. In a 2015 interview, former Editor-in-chief John Avlon described The Beast's editorial approach: "We seek out scoops, scandals, and stories about secret worlds; we love confronting bullies, bigots, and hypocrites." In 2018, Avlon described the Beast's "Strike Zone" as "politics, pop culture and power."

Tim McClelland

Timothy Reid McClelland (born December 12, 1951) is an American former umpire in Major League Baseball who worked in the American League from 1983 to 1999 and throughout both leagues from 2000 until his retirement prior to the 2015 season. He called many important games, from post-season games to the George Brett "Pine Tar" game in 1983. He was the plate umpire for the Sammy Sosa corked bat game on June 3, 2003, when the Chicago Cubs hosted the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Wrigley Field. He wore uniform number 36 after his promotion to the AL, and kept the number when Major League Baseball merged the American and National League umpiring staffs in 2000.

McClelland retired as MLB's second-most senior umpire (after Joe West), and was the second tallest major league umpire at 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m)—Jordan Baker is 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 m). McClelland was originally known for working in a kneeling position behind the plate, but switched in 2006 to a "box position," a form of squat. He was also noted for his deliberate umpiring mechanics, which earned him the nickname "Rain Delay McClelland," and for his small but consistent strike zone. Pitcher Zack Greinke said of McClelland's tight strike zone, "For some reason, he's the one umpire that scares me. I have nightmares about him."

Walk-to-strikeout ratio

In baseball statistics, walk-to-strikeout ratio (BB/K) is a measure of a hitter's plate discipline and knowledge of the strike zone. Generally, a hitter with a good walk-to-strikeout ratio must exhibit enough patience at the plate to refrain from swinging at bad pitches and take a base on balls, but he must also have the ability to recognize pitches within the strike zone and avoid striking out. Joe Morgan and Wade Boggs are two examples of hitters with a good walk-to-strikeout ratio. A hit by pitch is not counted statistically as a walk and therefore not counted in the walk-to-strikeout ratio.

The inverse of this, the strikeout-to-walk ratio, is used to compare pitchers.

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