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  #51  
Old 01-27-2020, 12:44 PM
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I've no doubt that eventually we may see a bit more of that, though I don't think it would make a massive difference. After all, when selecting MLB pitchers, the primary needs are velocity and control. A guy who lacks either is of little use no matter what his pitch arsenal is.

Different kinds of pitches fall in and out of fashion for reasons that often are not especially clear. The slider, originally called the "nickel curve," was not an especially common breaking ball until the 1970s, and then became extremely popular. In the late 1980s the split-fingered fastball was all the rage and now it's hardly ever used. Today the fastball itself is declining in usage. Who knows why these things happen? So yeah, such a change might mean more slow sliders, but who the hell knows. They may simply be really hard to throw; not a lot of pitchers have had long term success with them.
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  #52  
Old 01-27-2020, 11:20 PM
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No matter how you define the strike zone, it's always going to have an edge, and pitches just inside the edge will always be harder to hit than pitches right down the middle, and so pitchers will always be trying for those just-inside-the-edge spots (and those who can consistently hit it are prized). That's just part of the game.
  #53  
Old 01-30-2020, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Jackknifed Juggernaut View Post
I could be wrong, but I think strike zone isn’t defined by raw height, but rather by the position of the knees and upper body of the batter’s stance. This leaves even more reason for batters to artificially create a smaller zone by crouching. I guess my point is that all of this has to be carefully defined now. Also, is the determination made before the batter even takes the plate, or when he’s first setting up for the delivery, or at the point the pitch is released by the pitcher, or the stance at the time the ball crosses the plate? Not sure if any of this is in the rule book.
In theory at least it is not defined by the player's height or by his stance when not swinging but by his actual posture when swinging. This is clearly highly subjective. I would prefer it defined by his actual height. If you prefer, lower it from armpit mid-chest. But fix it for each player.

I think it is about time. Nothing destroys my enjoyment of the game more than bad ball/strike calls. And umpires pretty clearly favor established pitchers, which is highly unfair. Especially now that bad base calls can be appealed. Too bad it won't be used during the actual season.
  #54  
Old 01-30-2020, 10:38 PM
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My WAG is that umpires define the strike zone because that’s the best they can do. They have to watch a ball possibly going 100+ MPH flying at them and they are trying to gauge in real time if it went in the right area. An umpire can’t calculate that the ball was 3’ off the plate and was within the proper range based on the batter’s height. All he can do is see that it was above the knees so wasn’t too low. Hence it’s based off the batter’s stance.

Technology can do better. A tracker can know what the proper strike zone should be based objectively on the batter’s physical dimensions and doesn’t have to use the crutch if watching the stance. All the stuff an umpire can’t possibly do precisely or objectively can now be done with machines. It’s a huge improvement.
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Old 01-31-2020, 12:20 PM
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I think they need to tweak the definition of the strike or else pitchers will pitch so that 1% of the ball barely touches one corner of the prism that defines the strike zone. Another fear: suppose a team hires a super hacker to get into the system and make just enough of a tweak to give his team the edge?
  #56  
Old 01-31-2020, 02:10 PM
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I think they need to tweak the definition of the strike or else pitchers will pitch so that 1% of the ball barely touches one corner of the prism that defines the strike zone.
That’s called “painting the corners” and has already been a thing for a long time.

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Another fear: suppose a team hires a super hacker to get into the system and make just enough of a tweak to give his team the edge?
Don’t worry, the Astros will probably try to lay low for a while before they do that.
  #57  
Old 01-31-2020, 02:25 PM
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....Nothing destroys my enjoyment of the game more than bad ball/strike calls. And umpires pretty clearly favor established pitchers, which is highly unfair....
It used to drive me crazy when Glavine or Maddux would get strikes called for pitches that were 6 inches off the plate. They were great pitchers, and knew how to use that to their advantage. But still...
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Last edited by Jackknifed Juggernaut; 01-31-2020 at 02:25 PM.
  #58  
Old 02-02-2020, 10:16 AM
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That’s called “painting the corners” and has already been a thing for a long time.
I'm well aware of painting the corners but I don't think umpires would necessarily call a pitch where the seams of the ball graze the prism of the strike zone by a nanometer, whereas the robot might. Let humans call the balls and strikes, everything else by humans backed up by replay. If we should automate anything, let it be the checked swing calls.
  #59  
Old 02-02-2020, 11:03 AM
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I'm well aware of painting the corners but I don't think umpires would necessarily call a pitch where the seams of the ball graze the prism of the strike zone by a nanometer, whereas the robot might.
But of course umpires would. They do it right now. Happens in every single game. In fact, they often call strikes on pitches that don't even come that close, and fail to call strikes when the ball is entirely in the zone.

No matter how you define the strike zone, pitches will be called strikes that just barely graze a corner of the zone. Think about it for a moment; how could it be otherwise? Of course that HAS to happen if humans call balls and strikes.

The difference with machines is not that they will call strikes on pitches that just barely touch the zone. The difference is that they will call it consistently, and will essentially always be right. Humans will be inconsistent and frequently wrong.
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Old 02-02-2020, 11:35 AM
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The difference with machines is not that they will call strikes on pitches that just barely touch the zone. The difference is that they will call it consistently, and will essentially always be right. Humans will be inconsistent and frequently wrong.
This is true, but I do think that there is a difference, especially on breaking balls.

A tailing fastball, cutter, or straight fastball, particularly at the bottom of the zone, is more likely to be called a strike by a human than a 12-6 curveball or sweeping slider. A robot will call them the same. Reports from some minor league games where Trackman has been used have talked about curveballs that basically hit the ground behind the plate that are called strikes because they caught the lower edge of the zone at the front of the plate. This is technically a strike, but human umps seem to take into account break more than the robots do (which, AFAIK, is not at all).

One example is embedded in the article here: https://www.cleveland.com/tribe/2019...rike-call.html

I still think it's largely a good thing. Way too many pitches are missed by the human umps that would be correct with Trackman to worry too much about these corner cases. I actually think the system could even be tweaked a bit to take break into account if MLB thinks it is a problem.

I'm actually a bit more worried about the lack of a need for good receiving catchers, but maybe if everyone goes all bat at C it will increase the running game, which is always fun.
  #61  
Old 02-02-2020, 12:23 PM
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But of course umpires would. They do it right now. Happens in every single game. In fact, they often call strikes on pitches that don't even come that close, and fail to call strikes when the ball is entirely in the zone.

No matter how you define the strike zone, pitches will be called strikes that just barely graze a corner of the zone. Think about it for a moment; how could it be otherwise? Of course that HAS to happen if humans call balls and strikes.

The difference with machines is not that they will call strikes on pitches that just barely touch the zone. The difference is that they will call it consistently, and will essentially always be right. Humans will be inconsistent and frequently wrong.
The one problem with that is that before, the inconsistency likely balanced out. With the robot, the strike zone is effectively widened by 3 inches on each side, top and bottom, giving the pitcher a huge advantage. Maybe require the ball be half in the zone as a compromise.
  #62  
Old 02-02-2020, 01:32 PM
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The one problem with that is that before, the inconsistency likely balanced out.
But it didn't. That's just not the case - the inconsistencies do not balance out at all. Umpires are quite different from each other, have strong biases towards certain pitchers, are fooled by framing, and don't even call pitches the same way based on the count; on two strike counts their strike zones expand. Young umpires are significantly better than old ones. Within a single game it is not at all uncommon for one team to be significantly favored by inconsistency in ball and strike calls.

As to the idea machines will call a wider zone than humans, there just isn't any data to support that. Human umps are actually more likely to blow a call by turning a ball into a strike than vice-versa.

It should be noted that the use of technology has improved umpire performance already- accuracy is up from 10-15 years ago because data from Pitch/fx and Statcast has been provided to umps to help them improve. It's still not great, though.
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