Friday, April 9, 2010

State-contingent strike zones

The [baseball] strike zone, as defined by the rule book, is supposed to be a constant of nature, like the speed of light or the boiling temperature of water. Well you know what? Don't you believe it! The strike zone, the size of it, is changing continuously, it gets bigger or smaller after nearly every pitch. ...

I can tell you why: because major league umpires are a compassionate bunch of guys. They can't help pulling for the underdog. ... They seemingly cannot avoid giving the batter a little helping hand when he finds himself down in the count, 0-2. But our boys in blue are not biased against pitchers, oh no. They are more than willing to come to the aid of a pitcher who has just thrown three straight balls. ...

Here are the numbers:
Count    Strike zone size (sq. ft.)
-----------------------------------
All 3.09
3-0 3.52
0-2 2.42

Wow, the 3-0 zone is nearly 50 percent larger than the 0-2 zone.
--John Walsh, Hardball Times, on the compassionate umpire. HT: Marginal Revolution

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