Image credit: (Photo by Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)
The automated strike zone in the Low-A Southeast league is changing.
MLB informed clubs it plans to widen the strike zone by four inches — two inches on each side — while eliminating nearly 3.5 inches at the top of the strike zone. The league is also altering where the pitches are registered in the strike zone in an effort to eliminate strike calls on breaking balls in the dirt, pushing it back to the middle of the plate after pitches were previously registered at the front of the strike zone.
The changes were first reported by Fort Myers broadcaster John Vittas and confirmed by Baseball America.
The automated strike zone has been a source of bewilderment and intrigue so far in its first year of implementation. In May, Baseball America wrote about how the new strike zone (coupled with multiple other factors) led to an offensive explosion across the Low-A Southeast League, formerly known as more of a pitcher’s haven. The rise in offense and walks has led to some wonky stat lines — just look at Phillies prospect Baron Radcliff (.197/.414/.362).
This is minor league baseball’s first year experimenting with automated balls and strikes in affiliated ball. It previously tested it in both the Atlantic League and Arizona Fall League in 2019 to mixed results at the time.
Here’s how the league initially planned to set up its automated strike zone.
Today’s decision to alter the strike zone came after extensive feedback from players, according to Vittas, who noted players are allowed to flag balls and strikes decisions they disagree with, honing in on strike calls at the top of the zone and balls that missed on the corner of the plate.