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Guest Eastside Coach

What happened to the strike zone?

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Guest Eastside Coach

I have coached baseball for a number of years now, and it seems as if the strike zone has significantly changed this season in the 12U-16U level. I'm seeing a tremendous amount of pitches midway between the ankle and knee called strikes while anything above mid thigh is called a ball. There seems to be a desire to mirror the major league strike zone to some degree. It's odd for this 50 year old to see fastballs down the middle of plate belt high called balls. The other thing I am seeing this year is umpires who are setting up wider of the catcher's inside shoulder than the year before and it seems the inner 1/3 of the plate now gone as I don't think it can be seen from where umpires are setting up. I've talked with other coaches our league and they are seeing the same thing and having catchers come back to the dugout saying they're lost as to what's a strike.  These are not new umps. These are experienced guys who, last year, I would have said called very good games. Is there some kind new emphasis or technique being taught or encouraged?

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4 minutes ago, Guest Eastside Coach said:

I have coached baseball for a number of years now, and it seems as if the strike zone has significantly changed this season in the 12U-16U level. I'm seeing a tremendous amount of pitches midway between the ankle and knee called strikes while anything above mid thigh is called a ball. There seems to be a desire to mirror the major league strike zone to some degree. It's odd for this 50 year old to see fastballs down the middle of plate belt high called balls. The other thing I am seeing this year is umpires who are setting up wider of the catcher's inside shoulder than the year before and it seems the inner 1/3 of the plate now gone as I don't think it can be seen from where umpires are setting up. I've talked with other coaches our league and they are seeing the same thing and having catchers come back to the dugout saying they're lost as to what's a strike.  These are not new umps. These are experienced guys who, last year, I would have said called very good games. Is there some kind new emphasis or technique being taught or encouraged?

Where was it when it crossed the plate - not the batter - the plate? That's what counts.  (The zone is not called as you describe in MLB - they have a measuring system to keep calls under control)).

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No overall change in what should be called (but your specific area might have said something / placed some emphasis on something).  And, what you describe is NOT "the major league strike zone to some degree."

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I'm not saying you're exaggerating...but belt high pitches consistently called balls? Shin balls always getting called strikes? Some kind of mass, magical conversion where everyone changed? Umm.....

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I give this KZ analysis all the seriousness and consideration due a youth baseball coach. 

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It is true of some areas. Most in our HS association don't really call belt high pitches. Not sure why, but a majority of them don't. Especially with the more elite schools. You'll get an earfull from those schools coaches if, God forbid, you call anything at the belt or just a touch higher a strike. I don't like it and I'm not exagerating, that's just the way it is around here. It is a very small strike zone, too small IMO. You can get away with a slightly lower pitch, but try and grab some high strikes and you'll hear it. We have an organization that has many long time members and I think that they have called this zone for so many years and set a precedent that schools expect and new members comply. We have a lot of very good and experienced umpires that call this zone. It is what it is.

FWIW, The zone they taught us at pro school last year was much bigger, and one that I thought was appropriate at the HS level.

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It turns out you are not imagining this—at least not when we’re talking about the major leagues. Here’s a link to an article written by Jayson Stark and posted at espn about the very concerns you have about the strike zone—except, of course, that it is about major league umpires calling pitches below the knee.

http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/15633876/mlb-competition-committee-agrees-changes-strike-zone-intentional-walks

“The committee agreed on a motion to effectively raise the lower part of the strike zone to the top of the hitter's knees, sources said. The current rules stipulate that the zone begins at ‘the hollow beneath the kneecap,’ but the change is a reaction to a trend by umpires to call strikes on an increasing number of pitches below the knees.”

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Strikes are good. The benefit of the doubt goes to the pitcher on pitches close to the outside, pitches close to the inside to a lesser extent, and pitches close to being low. But, pitches close to being high go to the batter. Why? Because that seems to be what is expected and brings less grief.

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4 hours ago, Senor Azul said:

It turns out you are not imagining this—at least not when we’re talking about the major leagues. Here’s a link to an article written by Jayson Stark and posted at espn about the very concerns you have about the strike zone—except, of course, that it is about major league umpires calling pitches below the knee.

 

http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/15633876/mlb-competition-committee-agrees-changes-strike-zone-intentional-walks

 

“The committee agreed on a motion to effectively raise the lower part of the strike zone to the top of the hitter's knees, sources said. The current rules stipulate that the zone begins at ‘the hollow beneath the kneecap,’ but the change is a reaction to a trend by umpires to call strikes on an increasing number of pitches below the knees.”

 

Smoke and BS. The bottom edge if the zone is the hollow beneath the kneecap. Only the "top" of the ball need touch the zone. So indeed a pitch below the knee can be a strike. And as the batters are behind the plate that pitch will be even lower when it gets to the batter.  The tracking system keeps them honest.

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As people have noted it is when it crosses the plate not the batter. Further, it is when the batter is preparing to hit, not her/his stance. If he/she takes a stride and the moment he/she starts her/his swing, where is the hollow at the back of the knee? That stride lowers the hollow at the back of the knee. The ball has to cross any part of the plate and touch any part of that plane from that hollow. If so, strike. 

Problem is many people complain about the zone and do not know its definition. 

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It's youth call strikes.  Never seen anyone get in trouble for calling strikes as long as your consistent both ways. 

 

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On ‎5‎/‎26‎/‎2016 at 9:16 AM, BCBrad said:

As people have noted it is when it crosses the plate not the batter. Further, it is when the batter is preparing to hit, not her/his stance. If he/she takes a stride and the moment he/she starts her/his swing, where is the hollow at the back of the knee? That stride lowers the hollow at the back of the knee. The ball has to cross any part of the plate and touch any part of that plane from that hollow. If so, strike. 

Problem is many people complain about the zone and do not know its definition. 

What part of the knee exactly is it you're using to set your strike zone? The rule is the hollow beneath the knee cap, not behind the knee.

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7 minutes ago, BretMan said:

 

What part of the knee exactly is it you're using to set your strike zone? The rule is the hollow beneath the knee cap, not behind the knee.

Pretty sure he meant the back knee.  As in the right knee for a RHB and the left knee for a LHB.

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I've worked with other umpires who have a tiny strike zone, but I don't understand it. People aren't there to see a walk fest. While I don't call anything ridiculous, I try to use as much of the strike zone as possible. I will say that in upper level HS and tourney ball, it might be a little tighter zone because I know the pitchers can consistently hit that zone, but I'm still willing to call it. 

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On May 27, 2016 at 7:49 AM, BretMan said:

 

What part of the knee exactly is it you're using to set your strike zone? The rule is the hollow beneath the knee cap, not behind the knee.

Is there more than one hollow at the back of the knee? Last time I checked, I can only find one. 

Yes, the rule book says the hollow at the bottom of the kneecap. That hollow is the only one I can find and it is on the same plane as the bottom of the kneecap. 

Sorry, spend 10 minutes looking for other hollows, but could not find one. ;)

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4 hours ago, BCBrad said:

Is there more than one hollow at the back of the knee? Last time I checked, I can only find one. 

Yes, the rule book says the hollow at the bottom of the kneecap. That hollow is the only one I can find and it is on the same plane as the bottom of the kneecap. 

Sorry, spend 10 minutes looking for other hollows, but could not find one. ;)

Ummm...wat?

Your screenname should be BCBud.

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9 hours ago, BCBrad said:

Is there more than one hollow at the back of the knee? Last time I checked, I can only find one. 

Yes, the rule book says the hollow at the bottom of the kneecap. That hollow is the only one I can find and it is on the same plane as the bottom of the kneecap. 

Sorry, spend 10 minutes looking for other hollows, but could not find one. ;)

I just find it strange that your other post chided people for being ignorant of the strike zone definition, then you tried to explain it by using something that's not in the strike zone definition. 

I've never seen, read, or been taught anything that involves calling strikes based on the back of the knee. 

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