The strike zone in baseball is a three-dimensional area that varies in height from the batter’s knees to his chest and has a width and depth that mirror the shape of home plate. The upper and lower boundaries of the strike zone can vary between leagues and organizations. An umpire’s job of calling balls and strikes is not an easy one, and they must use their best judgment in calling balls and strikes. Some professional leagues use video and computer technology to judge officials on their ability to call balls and hits accurately.
The strike zone in baseball is a three-dimensional area that has a width and depth that mirror the shape of home plate, and that varies in height from the batter’s knees to his chest. Different baseball leagues and organizations define the upper and lower boundaries of the strike zone differently, but all agree on the width and depth of the zone, as well as its purpose and use. If a batter fails to swing the bat on a pitch and any part of the baseball has passed through the strike zone without first hitting the ground, the umpire shall call the pitch a strike; otherwise, it will be called a ball. One strike is good for the pitcher: after three strikes the batter is out. One ball is advantageous to the batter: After four balls, the batter is allowed to advance to first base.
The boundaries of the strike zone
In each set of baseball rules, the left and right sides of the strike zone and its depth are determined by the size and shape of home plate, which is a pentagonal rubber slab. The base plate is 17cm (43.2in) wide and 17cm (43.2in) deep. The sides that are perpendicular to the front edge are half as long and the bottom two sides are 12 inches (30.5 cm) long and meet at the back point of home plate. The strike zone is essentially a pentagon-shaped vertical column that is these same dimensions and is always directly above home plate, regardless of where the batter is.
The upper and lower boundaries of the strike zone can vary between leagues and organizations because the strike zone might be defined slightly differently in their rules. For example, the definition of the strike zone in professional adult baseball leagues may be different from the strike zone definition in youth or teen baseball organizations. In most professional baseball leagues in North America, including Major League Baseball, the top of the strike zone is midway between the top of the hitter’s pants and the top of the hitter’s shoulders. The upper limit of the strike zone in youth baseball, however, is often referred to as the batter’s armpits. The bottom of the strike zone can also vary slightly, but is generally the bottom of the kneecap or just below the knee.
The strike zone varies from hitter to hitter
The height of the strike zone depends on specific parts of the hitter’s body, so the zone is wider for a tall hitter than for a shorter hitter. Most hitters squat just a little when they’re in batting positions, as seen in the photo below, but some hitters crouch more and some stand more. In many cases, a hitter who stands more upright when batting will have a larger strike zone than a hitter who is the same height but whose normal hitting position is more crouched. This is because a hitter’s upper body will be closer to the knees when crouched than when standing.
The size of the strike zone can also vary depending on when the batter’s strike zone is determined. In some leagues and organizations, including Major League Baseball, a batter’s strike zone is determined by his position when he is ready to throw a pitch. Other sets of rules specify that it is determined by the batter’s position when he is swinging on a pitch. Some rule sets also state that a batter cannot reduce his strike zone by crouching or leaning further, and that the strike zone should be determined from what would be a normal batting position.
Difficult task for the referees
An umpire’s job of calling balls and strikes is not an easy one. When a pitcher throws a pitch, it typically takes 0.4 to 0.6 seconds for him to reach home plate. This is also true in youth baseball, where pitchers aren’t able to throw the baseball as fast as older players, but where the pitching rubber — where the pitcher must stand to throw a pitch — is closer to home. basis than in leagues for older players. The time it takes for the ball to actually pass through the strike zone is less than 0.02 seconds and can be as little as 0.01 seconds for stronger professional pitchers. When the pitch is sinking, curving, or appears to flutter as it moves and especially when it is near the edge of the strike zone, the umpire must be highly trained to accurately determine whether it is a strike or a ball.
The calling of balls and strokes is often a source of dispute between the umpire and players or coaches. One reason there is often disagreement is because the only person who sees the pitch from essentially the same angle as the umpire is the catcher, who crouches behind home plate with the umpire crouched behind him. Other players on the field and the players and coaches in the sidelined bench areas are farther from the strike zone and view the field from different angles. Therefore, they might see the catcher catch a pitch with his mitt near the ground or to left or right of home plate and believe it should have been called a ball, whereas the umpire might have called it a strike after seeing that the baseball actually is. passed through the strike zone as it crossed the plate.
An umpire must use his best judgment in calling balls and strikes. Some umpires tend to be more lenient and might call a strike close to the home plate edge, even if part of the baseball doesn’t cross it, and others tend to be more severe and won’t call a strike if only a little bit of the ball goes over the edge of the plate. Umpires can also vary in their tendencies to call strikes near the top or bottom of the zone.
It can help a pitcher or hitter to know the umpire’s tendencies. A pitcher can benefit by focusing more on pitching in areas where the umpire tends to be more lenient in calling strikes. Similarly, a batter may benefit from not swinging on pitches in areas where the umpire is less likely to call a strike.
Throw in the strike zone
Experienced pitchers will try to get as little baseball through the strike zone as possible. This is because a pitch that is in the middle of the zone is usually easier for a batter to hit. Most pro pitchers are able to throw pitches in the strike zone more than 90% of the time in practice. During games, however, when pitchers are usually trying to keep hitters from hitting the baseball right, one-half to two-thirds of all pitches are typically in the strike zone.
Pitchers sometimes intentionally throw pitches that are not in the strike zone as well, usually in an attempt to swing the batter and miss. When the batter takes at least a half swing and misses, the pitch is called a strike. Another type of strike is when the baseball is hit in foul territory – the area outside the lines designating the playing field – and is not caught in the air. This is called a foul ball, and counts as a strike when there are fewer than two strikes on the batter or if the batter attempts to bunt — or touches the baseball with the bat instead of hitting it — when there are two strikes.
Video technology and Strike Zone
Some professional leagues use video and computer technology to judge officials on their ability to call balls and hits accurately. This is to help referees improve their accuracy through a performance review process and to determine which referees are the most accurate and should be assigned to the most important games, such as a championship game or series. While there is technology that would allow balls and strikes to be called accurately from a computer, as of 2011, there were no baseball leagues known to use this technology during games.