Every game there is a different umpire calling balls and strikes. Throughout the game, one of the biggest factors is, what kind of umpire is behind the plate. There a pitchers umpires, and hitters umpires. Strangely enough, the home plate umpire, may be one of the biggest factors in the game. All umpires have different strike zones, and hitters seem okay with it as long as they are consistent.
Heres the problem, there’s actually a rule! Lets take a look at how MLB defines a strike zone.
“The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball.”
Well, it took me a while to figure out just what that means, but it didn’t matter, because I found out that MLB was gracious enough to include a picture. Lets look at it:
So there you go. We always hear letters to knees, and that’s close, but it’s letters to the bottom of the knees. It’s in the rule book. Over the years, it’s become belt to knees. Again, every umpire makes it up for themselves.
Then there is in and out, and most umpires have this down. Its supposed to be the width of the plate. But again, some umpires seem to think its batters box to batters box.
There’s one more notable rule that many people do not know about.
“A STRIKE is a legal pitch when so called by the umpire, which–
… (b) Is not struck at, if any part of the ball passes through any part of the strike zone; …”
So what that means is that the entire ball doesn’t have to be in the strike zone. If any part of the ball touches the strike zone, it is a strike. So, just remember that rule when it may look a little outside, because only a seam has to touch for it to be a strike.
The point here is that over the years the strike zone has become smaller and smaller, and every umpire makes up his own zone. As a result, any game can be influenced greatly, and the entire league scores more and more runs every year, as the strike zone gets smaller. The commissioner needs to step in and read the rule to every umpire, because – whether they know it or not – the rule is not being followed.