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MLB is considering raising the bottom of the strike zone

Billy Butler, Tim Welke

Oakland Athletics’ Billy Butler, right, has words with home plate umpire Tim Welke after striking out looking against the Houston Astros in the third inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 15, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)


In the same interviews Rob Manfred gave about the DH yesterday he talked about another possible change on the horizon: the strike zone. Specifically, shrinking it a tiny bit by raising the bottom of the strike zone from the hollow beneath the kneecap back to the top of the kneecap where it was prior to the 1996 season.

Manfred said Major League Baseball is studying the matter, and the article notes that any change would have to be the subject of collective bargaining, meaning that if a change is made it wouldn’t be implemented until 2017.

It doesn’t seem like a big change. Take a look at your knees for a minute, note that your kneecap isn’t that darn big and then ask yourself how precise umpires are, especially at the bottom of the zone, which is often where the worst calls come. On the other hand, think of all of the various changes that have happened to the context of baseball over the years, from strike zone changes to ball composition to balk rules to the height of pitchers mounds and recall that what often seem like minor alterations in baseball’s context often lead to fairly dramatic changes in offensive levels.

Either way, there is considerable evidence that, separate and apart from the 1996 rule change, the strike zone has been creeping ever-downward and that batters are now being forced to chase pitches far, far lower than they ever did lest they be caught looking at a strike. Adjusting that to some degree, in this age of pitching dominance and more strikeouts than there has ever been in the game, is probably a good idea.