Is It Time For An Electronic Strike Zone? And Other MLBullets

Tom Szczerbowski

Increasingly, studies suggest that umpires are changing the strike zone depending on the count, the handedness of the batter, and other external factors. Should we be upset about that?

The latest from around MLB ...

  • A huge chunk of fans - a majority? - remain staunchly opposed to electronic means being employed to call balls and strikes. Despite the technology existing, which would allow us to know for certain whether that Greg Maddux comebacker really did clip the outer edge of the plate, we refuse to use it. That may sound like a judgmental statement, but it isn't - I'm not so sure I want to use that technology either. However, studies in this area are going to force us to confront the issue. For example, FanGraphs performs a study on the strike zone, and how it shifts dramatically based on the count. Specifically, the difference in the strike zone, over the course of a season's worth of data, on 0-2 counts and 3-0 counts is extreme. Check out the article for a visual that might make you rethink your position on electronically-called balls and strikes. Still, I struggle with the issue. There's something fun and intimately "baseball" about the argument that follows a close ball or strike call. Sometimes it's brutal, because the ump obviously screwed your team, but those moments all even out in the end, right? I just think I'd miss that feeling - the ups and the downs - associated with the ump jutting his arm out to the right, signaling the end of an at bat. I can't rightly redirect my anger at a computer, can I?
  • The R.A. Dickey trade to the Blue Jays officially went through yesterday after Dickey passed his physical and agreed to a two-year, $25 million extension with the Jays. Always thoughtful, Dickey explained his feelings on leaving the Mets: "I think it's important for me to grieve leaving New York. I had a proverbial home there. I had a home among fans. I had a home in an organization. I had a lot of success there, and I think it's important for me to be sad about that for a moment before I move on to the next feeling."
  • Phil Mickelson will no longer be the Magic Johnson-style face of the San Diego Padres' ownership group. He recently informed the group that is in the process of purchasing the Padres that he will not be joining them in the process. As a native San Diegoan, I'm sure locals are bummed that he won't be a part of the team.
  • Baseball Prospectus notes that Coco Crisp has evolved into the league's most skillful base stealer ... and digs into how exactly he's done it. By reviewing each of his stolen base attempts in 2012, R.J. Anderson discovered that Crisp isn't just fast. He's smart. He discovers patterns in pitchers' moves/pick-off attempts/deliveries, and exploits them to the point that his steals are almost never on the catcher. The catcher rarely even has a chance. It's a fascinating read, and probably a study that is going to make it harder for Crisp to repeat his feat in 2013.
  • Grant Brisbee does what Grant Brisbee does, which is to say he writes a fantastic piece on Hall of Fame voting. The short version? He'll call off the dogs if writers vote for Tim Raines and Alan Trammell. But don't limit yourself to the short version.
  • Rob Neyer evaluates the Red Sox's $9.5 million bet on Stephen Drew.

Brett Taylor is the Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and a Contributor here at Bleed Cubbie Blue.

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