Why Is Outside Strike Missed So Frequently? 1

By LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

LOS ANGELES — If you go to enough baseball games on the high school, college and professional levels, one constant complaint always echoes through stadiums.

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?

I have charted over 3,000 games through the years behind the backstop of college and high school games, and this trend holds consistently.

There are a number of reasons for this phenomenon, according to key people within the game.

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 he is not in a pristine position to see outside pitches which touch the corner. If the catcher moves his head upwards while catching a pitch, it blocks the view of the umpire to see that outside pitch.

Some catchers set up too far behind home plate which then causes strikes on the outside corner to become balls if pitches move.

Sometimes umpires set up too far behind the catcher.

Pitchers cause their own problems as well when they nibble on the corners instead of pitching in the strike zone.

Compounding this problem is that few baseball coaches ever chart umpires to find what their strike calling strengths and weaknesses are. On the Major League level, they are completely aware of how home plate umpires are calling games from series to series thanks to the charting efforts of Inside Edge.

But if you ask 100 college and high school coaches if they chart home plate umpires to find out what each arbiter’s strike zone is, chances are that one or two might do this.

Yet coaches constantly preach that the home plate umpire’s strike zone dictates the winner of games. If you have a powerful hitting team, you obviously want a small strike zone. But if you have pitchers with great command, the bigger the zone the better.

To read more of this story, purchase the March 11, 2022 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. It gives keen insight from Brent Mayne, 15-year catcher in the Major Leagues along with Jerry Weinstein of the Colorado Rockies along with the thoughts of legendary NCAA umpire Dale Williams.