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MLB Reportedly Considering Changing Strike Zone Due to Declining Offense

Published by Bleacher Report on Fri, 13 Feb 2015


Since officially taking over for Bud Selig in January, new Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has been proactive about trying to speed up the game and add more offense. The most recent plan would be the biggest so far under his short tenure.According to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, the league is weighing the idea of shrinking the strike zone:Concern around baseball about the strike zone filtered down to the MLBs Playing Rules Committee, which must formally adopt a rules change before its implemented. The committee will pay close attention to the size of the strike zone in 2015 with an eye on change as early as 2016 after studies showed it has expanded significantly since 2009, coinciding with a precipitous dip in run scoring. Of particular concern, sources said, is the low strike, a scourge not only because it has stretched beyond the zones boundaries but is considered a significantly more difficult pitch to hit.It's no secret that offense across MLB has been in decline. In 2014, the number of runs scored during the regular season fell below 20,000 for the first time since 1995, according to FanGraphs.Much of that decline can be traced to the rise in strikeouts. FanGraphs compiled the strikeout rate across the league for every season dating back to 1910. The top seven strikeout rates belong to the 2008 through 2014 seasons.Jon Roegele of The Hardball Times provided an in-depth analysis of how the strike zone continues to grow with each season, thus tipping the scales in favor of pitchers. Using PITCHf/x data, he determined the strike zone went from 436 square inches in 2008 to 475 square inches in 2014.Decreasing the size of the strike zone seems like one of the simpler changes the league could make to give batters more of an advantage.Grantland's Rany Jazayerli couldn't contain his enthusiasm for the idea:Marc Carig of Newsday added that cutting down on the size of the strike zone would be more effective than a rule on defensive shifts:As Passan mentioned, this move would happen in a year, at the earliest. It's not like the league is on the cusp of making the change.If recent trends are any indicator, MLB will have to do something soon to breathe life into the offensive side of the game.
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