What is Strike Zone & Zone Rating in Baseball

Strike Zone Baseball

The strike zone in baseball represents a space where the pitch should pass to be counted as a strike when the batter does not take a swing at the ball. Strikes are obviously desirable for the pitching team as three of these constitutes a strikeout. The umpire who is positioned behind the catcher makes the ultimate decision whether the pitch counts as a strike or not.

The Strike Zone

The game of baseball, especially in the Majors, is continuously evolving. The replay system was even introduced in order to correct erroneous calls made by the umpire. Despite this, the strike zone is still one of the most frustrating parts of the game. So let’s see, what is the strike zone in baseball & how big is the strike zone in baseball?

Based on the 2.00 rule in the Major League, the strike zone:

  • Is the area over the home plate;
  • Has an upper limit horizontal to the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants of the batter;
  • The lower limit is the line beneath the kneecap;
  • Extends a total of 17 inches across the entire width of the home plate; and
  • Is determined by the stance of the batter as he prepares to swing at the pitch.

The contention is that umpires are actually using their own judgement in identifying the strike zone, which many believe is the bone of contention. From the point of view of umpires, the strike zone becomes more circular rather than a rectangular area rising from the plate.

To add to the inconsistency, umpires are even defining the strike zone differently for right-handed and left-handed batters. Based on researches, right-handed batters are called more often for strikes on an inside pitch, while left-handed batters are likely to be called for a strike on an outside pitch. Both players and managers are trying to work through these varying interpretations as well the human error factor. What they would like more to see though on whether umpires call a pitch a ball or a strike is more consistency.

Zone Rating

If you are new to the game, you may ask, what is zone rating in baseball? You may not realize it, but zone rating has actually been used for about 20 years and provides a means of measuring defensive players.

The concept is rather simple and relies on two basic factors; the number of plays a fielder makes, and the number of hits into his zone. Take the first factor and divide it by the second factor, this should give you the zone rating for that particular player. Based on this, look at the number of plays made compared to the average fielder and you will have a plus minus rating. This can be converted into runs to give a measurement of a player’s overall worth.

Quite simple, right? But did you know that there is more than one zone rating? A new version was introduced by John Dewan, the same person responsible for the old zone rating. In the original, when the ball is hit outside the player’s zone, but the player range is far enough to make the play, the ball is added to the plays made as well as the chances. This underrates players that have limited range.

Under the new zone rating, the plays are treated differently. The balls in zone are counted only for those that are hit into the player’s zone. A separate category has been added for the balls that are fielded outside the player’s zone. This sort of even things up for measuring a player’s worth and negating the discrepancy in the range without actually dismissing its value.

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