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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Strike Zone: does the entire ball stuff apply vertically?

Say what?

Subtle strike zone change: ENTIRE ball must be over the plate. Wednesday, February 13, 2019 9:33 AM

The previous post deals with the ball horizontally, which is addressed in the rules. However, that same is not mentioned in the vertical definition of the strike zone.

Both the top and bottom of the strike zone are vague enough but neither mentions how much of the ball must be below/above the limits. It matters ... a lot.

Subtle strike zone change: ENTIRE ball must be over the plate.

The plate is 17 inches wide but the strike zone is not because a pitched ball is a strike if any part of the ball is over that plate (plus, vertical junk). Hence the term on the black for the black trim around home plate. Actually, a pitch that is only on the black but not over the plate even a little bit should be called a ball as if anyone can tell.

The baseball is about 2.25 inches in diameter. To be a strike the ball can basically be tangent with the plate, i.e., the edge of the ball touches the edge of the plate. That adds 2 times the ball diameter (4.5 inches) to the width of the strike zone, making it 21.5 inches wide. That's 26% wider than we tend to think.

How about we change that rule just a little bit and require the entire ball to be over the plate for the pitch to be a strike? Advantages:
1. Easier to call.
2. Umpire can obey the rule requiring the ump to stand directly behind the plate.
3. Easier to catch.
4. Easier to pitch.
5. Pretty much eliminates "pitch framing", a.k.a. cheating, as a catching skill.
6. More hitting!

That last is the one that will have typical baseball people, both fans and officials, objecting. They're petrified that batters might succeed half the time. League batting average or on base "percentage" .500 might be interpreted as batters and pitchers being even. Instead we have for 2018:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/2018.shtml

BA: .248
OBP: .318
SLG: .409
OPS: .728

That looks pretty much like pitchers dominate. Since 1903 highest major league averages:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/bat.shtml

BA: .296 in 1930
OBP: .356 in 1930
SLG: .437 in 2000
OPS: .790 in 1930

Come on. Move the ball off the edge and completely over the plate. You'll be glad you did.

The post below has lots of good strike zone stuff and references to earlier such posts:

Touch your body at the top of the strike zone. Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Pitchers cannot hit. Why insist that they try?

If pitchers could hit, then would. They would play every day like baseball players, which they are not.

There should be a designated fielder. Eight men bat. The players union will agree to anything if you increase the number of people on the roster.

Here's a link for 97 pitchers (85% of games as a pitcher) with at least 1,000 PA batting:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/tiny/WTc1X

Top ten in PA:
RkPlayerPAOPS+FromToAgeGABRH2B3BHRRBIBBIBBSOHBPSHSFGDPSBCSBAOBPSLGOPSPosTm
1Walter Johnson2529761907192719-3993423242415479441242551104191370134.235.274.342.616*1H/8974WSH
2Warren Spahn2056431942196521-44783187214136357635189940487768142342.194.234.287.520*1/HBSN-MLN-SFG-NYM
3Pete Alexander1979431911193024-4370318101543786013111637727628835.209.242.275.517*1/H7PHI-CHC-STL
4Early Wynn1904541939196319-43796170413636559517173141133025243310.214.274.285.559*1HWSH-CLE-CHW
5Steve Carlton1881331965198820-436991719123346496131404104131094133322.201.223.259.482*1/HSTL-PHI-SFG-CHW-CLE-MIN
6Greg Maddux181251986200820-4273715911032723525843404195180215113.171.191.205.395*1/HCHC-ATL-LAD-SDP
7Robin Roberts1784271948196621-396881525107255551051031350372810863731.167.238.226.464*1/HPHI-BAL-HOU-CHC
8Phil Niekro170781964198725-48742153780260421710917031412129123501.169.183.211.395*1/HMLN-ATL-NYY-CLE-TOR
9Burleigh Grimes1686581916193422-40632153515738062112168692415761154.248.282.306.588*1/HBRO-NYG-PIT-BSN-STL-CHC-NYY
10Eppa Rixey1666221912193321-42694152295291334311149220987222.191.221.224.445*1/HPHI-CIN

OPS+ 100 is league average as a batter.  Those OPS+ numbers are terrible. Two of the ten are in single digits. But wait, it gets worse.

Sorted by OPS+:
RkPlayerPAOPS+
FromToAgeGABRH2B3BHRRBIBBIBBSOHBPSHSFGDPSBCSBAOBPSLGOPSPosTm
1Carl Mays1195821915192923-375021085113291322151116611644411.268.313.350.663*1/HBOS-NYY-CIN-NYG
2Walter Johnson2529761907192719-3993423242415479441242551104191370134.235.274.342.616*1H/8974WSH
3Chief Bender1276661903192519-41507114710224340106116751601042202.212.266.280.546*1/H38475PHA-BAL-PHI-CHW
4Christy Mathewson1605631903191622-355561416130306451151471071751563171.216.278.274.552*1NYG-CIN
5Wilbur Cooper1316611912192620-3452112271112933417610647140438129.239.269.309.578*1/H79PIT-CHC-DET
6Burleigh Grimes1686581916193422-40632153515738062112168692415761154.248.282.306.588*1/HBRO-NYG-PIT-BSN-STL-CHC-NYY
7Art Nehf1047571915192922-36464915901922958768612254173.210.281.279.560*1/H987BSN-NYG-CIN-CHC
8Dizzy Trout1047561939195724-42535961992052872011059022612601872.213.260.319.579*1/HBOS-DET-BAL
9Urban Shocker1049551916192825-3741279889167233170139211119813.209.334.249.584*1SLB-NYY
10Early Wynn1904541939196319-43796170413636559517173141133025243310.214.274.285.559*1HWSH-CLE-CHW

The most recent season for any of them: 1963. Three of the top ten in PA are among the top ten in OPS+: Johnson, Grimes, Wynn. Among the top ten in OPS+, three barely have the 1,000 PA to qualify, which suggests that if they batted more, their OPS+ would be lower.

Bottom ten in OPS+, also the only pitchers in this group with negative OPS+, whatever that is:
88Don Sutton1559-21966198821-43611135464195151064600365613632910.144.183.157.340*1/HLAD-HOU-MIL-OAK-CAL
89Steve Rogers1045-21973198523-354068814712282039610268110111012.138.195.152.347*1/HMON
90Mickey Lolich1017-21963197922-38477821639052031105036258512011.110.215.121.335*1/HDET-NYM-SDP
91Milt Pappas1176-31957197318-34527107372132133206736051085251310.123.157.197.354*1/H4BAL-CIN-ATL-CHC
92Danny MacFayden1004-31926194321-3847091066129224147410309155711.142.180.178.358*1/H7BOS-NYY-CIN-BSN-PIT-WSH
93Lefty Gomez1023-71930194321-3436890459133110058500252268511.147.194.159.353*1NYY-WSH
94Bill Doak1007-91912192921-38453905401151551303033227100.127.157.158.315*1CIN-STL-BRO
95Gaylord Perry1220-101962198323-44512107648141170647220369611332000.131.153.164.316*1/HSFG-CLE-TEX-SDP-NYY-ATL-SEA-KCR
96Jerry Koosman1052-171967198524-4243191536109121246330418210021910.119.151.141.292*1NYM-MIN-CHW-PHI
97Bob Friend1299-191951196620-35602113756138162260380375012021400.121.150.144.294*1PIT-NYM-NYY
NEGATIVE OPS+. See the minus sign before their number? People are on MLB Network now arguing that pitchers should bat and that there is value in the decision making associated with whether and when to pinch hit for them.

Say it ain't so!