When a batter stands in the back of the batter’s box, you can take advantage of the plate umpire’s perspective of the strike zone that presents itself in two ways.
Before I get into those two ways, let us consider what the plate umpire has to deal with when a batter stands at the very back of the batter’s box.
First, the batter’s strike zone is not in a favorable position for the plate umpire to judge, in relation to the plate. In other words, the batter has moved his body’s strike zone so far removed from the plate’s part in all this – which is in itself, a strike zone consideration. Therefore, the perspective of a plate umpire’s view is subjective in a way, dealing with the plate’s contribution to the strike zone and the batter’s placement. Look at the picture (1) below and you’ll see what I mean.
When the plate umpire takes his position, he is visualizing the batter’s posture for calling strikes and balls. Basically, that initial posture governs those calls.
However, when only the front foot is next to the plate or even slightly behind the rear edges of the plate, now this umpire must consider something that’ll work for him and his visual perspective(s). Those visual perspectives are best supported by judging the front part of the batter closest to the plate, and that part only, not the batter’s entire body – definitely not the batter’s entire body.
Because it’s virtually impossible for the human eye to be that exact, considering a baseball coming in, with or without movement, and all those placements – body and plate, all at once. Remember, we are considering the batter’s position all the way in the back of the batter’s box only here.
Take a look at our picture (2) below and you’ll see the visual perspective that the plate umpire has to deal with and how his field of vision (perspective) has to deal with and manage. The red square column represents the plate’s vertical and surface area of the strike zone, while the red horizontal lines running from the batter forward, representing the batter’s contributions to the strike zone. Those blue lines projecting forward across both the plate and the batter is the visual witness that the plate umpire has. The strongest suit for the plate umpire is to position his judgment in a way that uses the closest image of the batter’s body to home plate. In our picture (2) below, this batter’s front leg is closest to the plate, thus becomes the point of reference for many plate umpires.
A better example of the point that I’m trying to get across is in the picture (3) below. The yellow circle with the X in it, is usually the area that a plate umpire will not use to judge strikes and balls. The yellow circle in front of the batter is more common as a reference point(s) for calling strikes and balls.
Ok, so how does all this help you?
When a batter spots himself in the back of the batter’s box, he’s betting that your pitch will have a flatter plain to it – thus hittable. In addition, for some pitchers, their breaking ball is a bit harder to control against a batter positioned there.
In any event, you want to target that front knee, thus helping the plate umpire judge strikes better. Even if the pitch bounces in the dirt in front of your catcher, if your pitch crossed the plate at knee high of the batter’s front leg, you have a greater probability of getting a strike call, than not. Do not make the mistake of trying to pitch conventionally to a batter in the back of the box. See the yellow line in our picture below(4), that’s the incoming flight path of your pitch and the blue box next to this batter’s front leg is – more often than not, the most common reference point for calling strikes and balls that a plate umpire has.
In our picture (5) below, a batter will often consider a pitch that’s either down and in or down and away as hittable. The only problem for the batter is the sharp downward plain of the incoming pitch. As our picture suggests, the pitch’s incoming flight path is very hard to pick up, and many batters end up reaching for the pitch when its down and away, or cramping themselves when the pitch is down and in.
In our picture (6) below shows, what can happen with a batter is called on a strike and then the very next pitch seems almost like the exact same pitch, again. Usually, a batter will swing away, not wanting to be caught looking again. If you have a good fastball for the bottom of the order - 7, 8, 9 who are in the back of the box, now is a good time to send it. For the top of the order, take advantage of any arm placement that blocks their vision of the down and away pitch, on the outside edge of the plate. This batter was a candidate for such a set up.