It’s Time To Blow Up Strike Zone Definition 0

The NCAA rule book definition of the strike zone should be blown up. It simply doesn’t work and never has.

The NCAA rule book explanation of a strike zone is, “The area over home plate from the bottom of the kneecaps to the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and top of the uniform pants. The strike zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball.”

The rule book strike zone is ridiculous because it is not called consistently by umpires, and pitching coaches, hitting coaches, head coaches and players all complain about the zone if it is called according to the book (especially the high strike).

Umpires will call every rule in the book with precision EXCEPT the strike zone.

Because coaches complain, many umpires call the top of the strike zone closer to the waist. Some umpires have large strike zones while others the size of a dime which results in numerous walks.

To be honest, strike zones are all over the map and not consistent.

The width of the zone is fascinating. Home plate is 17 inches wide. But the actual width of the strike zone is 23 inches.

Keep in mind the diameter of a ball is about three inches. If the edge of the baseball touches the outside edge of the strike zone as well as the inside edge, you can add about six inches to the width of the zone.

Any part of the baseball that touches the inside or outside edge of the strike zone is a strike.

Yet you never want to see umpires calling strikes beyond the 23-inch width which wouldn’t be fair to hitters.

During the NCAA Baseball Rules Meeting for coaches at the recent ABCA Convention in Nashville, George Drouches, NCAA Coordinator of Umpires, said the overall NCAA Incident/Ejection/Suspension Reports increased 6 percent in 2022 from 2021.

He stated that in 2022, 45 percent of the NCAA Div. I baseball Incident/Ejection/Suspension Reports filled out were specifically related to ball/strike ejection reports indicating a formal warning had been issued prior to the ejection.

Collegiate Baseball has a simple solution. Simply survey all coaches on the collegiate levels (NCAA, NAIA, NJCAA, California JCs and Northwest JCs) since they all use NCAA rules and find out what strike zone would be fair for coaches in the game.

Umpires must be part of this as well so they get their say on the strike zone. Then you will have a realistic strike zone everyone can live with. That must be put in the rule book and enforced with consistency.

We can guarantee you that the number of complaints by coaches will be reduced substantially and ejections which ultimately take place.

There are several other areas to address concerning the strike zone in the rule book for clarification.

Why are pitches that touch the outside corner of the plate, and within the top and bottom points of the strike zone, not called strikes consistently by home plate umpires?

There are a number of reasons for this phenomenon. First, the home plate umpire has been trained to set up in the slot between the catcher and batter which gives the arbiter a great look at inside and down the middle pitches but not outside corner pitches.

Some catchers set up too far behind home plate which can turn strikes into balls. Sometimes umpires set up too far behind the catcher which exacerbates precision strike calls even more.

All of these areas must be addressed in the rule book to have strike zone that is called consistently.

More thought-provoking articles like this are in the Feb. 10, 2023 edition of Collegiate Baseball. To purchase this issue or subscribe, CLICK HERE.