Putting the ZONE in Strike Zone
While progressing up the ranks, learning the ZONE, as in strike zone, is a steep learning curve that’s not easy to climb.
Basically, the strike Zone is shown below with the green lines… top and bottom. And as you progress upward, your expected to hit this top and bottom limits. Now add a horizontal plane (the plate) and we’re faced with a true three dimensional picture of a true ZONE that has limits that you must work within … from sixty (60) feet away. Those three dimensions are the horizontal plane (plate), the vertical scale (batter dictated), and finally the perception of depth (length of the strike ZONE itself).
Although the green lines signify (generally) the area of coverage for a call strike, the three dimensional picture of an incoming pitch, and its quality to GO THROUGH THE COMPLETE strike ZONE is different for the four (4) people who judge each pitch – pitcher, catcher, batter, plate umpire. In other words, each person has a view of an incoming pitch and their perception of where that pitch will be… is… has been, will be different. No exceptions. After all, each individual is standing, bending, squatting and thus will have different angles on the ball’s flight,
For pitchers, it’s our job to ascertain… and rather quickly, what the umpire’s view is, as he/she calls ball or strike. And in that regard, it doesn’t make a hill of beans what the pitcher thinks, or the catcher,…. or the bench, on a call of any given pitch. If the umpire says your tossing ball’s … well then you’d better adjust.
So if we look at our picture above and we see our pitch ( the yellow lines) is not getting the “call”, then you’ve got to lower or raise the pitch accordingly.
But wait a minute, from your perspective on the mound … and your catcher is agreeing with you, how come you’re not getting a strike call? In our picture above, look at the pitch (yellow line) that’s at the knees. This is a common problem for young pitchers. Notice the ball doesn’t travel THROUGH the complete strike ZONE…. a ZONE starts at the front knee and ends at the back knee. Pitches that fall at the lower shin or ankle of the back leg of the batter are not a strikes … but from the mound and even from the catcher’s view it should be called a strike.
A common, repetitive problem are pitches on the outside corner or the plate. Take a look at our picture below and notice the pitch on the left – this would be called a ball, not a strike because the pitch did not go completely THROUGH THE ZONE (horizontal dimension). Our pitch
on the right on the other hand – does go TRHOUGH THE ZONE (horizontal dimension).
A catcher can sometimes block his view with his mitt, like in our picture below. The red dotted lines from the mitt indicate the catcher’s field of view. The red dotted pattern in front of the plate, indicates the pitcher’s perception of his pitch. When the umpire calls “ball”, the battery can’t figure it out.
The picture below now shows the total view of all involved. Again, notice the one dimensional view of the pitcher and his catcher. The battery has only a flat view of the pitch without any depth perception. However, unlike them – the umpire has a multidimensional picture of the pitch.
Learn by adjusting to the calls. If you think you had a strike on the outside or inside corner and you didn’t get the call … it means that you must go … “going deeper into the pitch.” In other words ADJUST… by going IN more. Don’t stand there on the mound and turn a face of sour
grapes to the umpire. That’s not going to cut it.