By RONALD BLUM
NEW YORK (AP) -- Baseball's strike zone could be getting a slight lift.
Major League Baseball is studying whether to raise the bottom of the strike zone from the hollow beneath the kneecap back to the top of the kneecap.
"I'm not in a position to predict whether it's going to happen or not," Rob Manfred said during an interview with The Associated Press on Monday on his first anniversary as baseball commissioner. "I think that the interest in the topic is really driven by the fact that if you look over time there has been a movement down of the strike zone, largely as a result of the way we evaluate the strike zone with umpires."
Strike zone data was included in a presentation given to owners last week at their meeting in Coral Gables, Florida. An agreement with the players' association would be necessary to make a change for this year, and baseball officials said the matter is likely to be discussed during collective bargaining, which would delay any change until 2017.
The strike zone extended to the top of the kneecap through the 1995 season, then was dropped to its current level.
"The umpires have done a great job calling the strike zone as we want it called," Manfred said. "The question is whether we ought to make an adjustment."
Consideration of an alteration comes following a decade-and-a-half decline in offense. There was an uptick during the second half last season.
"The bottom to the top of the knees is only a matter of a couple inches, so it wouldn't be a big adjustment for anybody," San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford said in an email. "But, it may help hitters mentally knowing that the zone is a little smaller (even if only by a couple inches). It could help us check off pitches that look like they might be at the bottom of the zone but are sinking even lower."
Without bottom-of-the-zone strikes, pitchers would have to adjust.
"Obviously, raising the strike zone provides more opportunity for hitters to create lift, leading to more doubles and homers, and runs -- which probably generates more eyeballs watching the sport," Los Angeles Angels closer Huston Street said in an email.