One of the proposed changes for the 2017 season is to raise the bottom of the strikezone to the top of the knee, instead of the bottom of the knee. That’s shrinking of the strikezone by about a baseball at the bottom.
Major League Baseball is trying to increase the pace of play, as well as the total game time. Shrinking the strikezone, in theory, could lead to more “action”. That’s what baseball wants. There are more strikeouts and more walks today than ever. The game has been trending more towards pitchers for nearly a decade now. Something weird has happened in the last year-and-a-half of play. Hitters have begun to hit for significantly more power. Strikeout and walk rates haven’t changed, but the ball is going over the fence a lot more frequently.
Have the hitters just figured that swinging harder is worth it at this point given where pitching is at and the advantage they’ve got over hitters? I’m not really sure, but something is happening. Still, the shrinking of the zone would benefit hitters and I believe it’s past due to make the change. I still believe that letting the Statcast system call the strikezone would help more, as it would normalize the zone for everyone, on every call. But raising the zone a few inches will also breathe more life into offense.
The other rules change that was proposed was that of the intentional walk. Rather than making a pitcher throw four pitches at 80 MPH, they simply indicate the plan to walk the batter and they take first base. That rule won’t cut down on time of play at all. There is about half of an intentional walk per game. It will change the pace of play for about half of a second. It does make it appear like they are trying something, though. For the two times a year when an intentional walk goes wrong, I’m not sure it’s worth not changing the rule over. But, I will miss seeing things like this:
I think we will probably see the strikezone changes be shot down. The intentional walk is a change I believe will be approved.