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The baseball strike zone from the pitcher’s vantage point

The baseball strike zone for a pitcher can be far different than that of a hitter, and is determined by the umpire calling a game. The pitcher is interested in increasing the size of the strike zone through gradual deception of the umpire, making home plate seem larger than the true standard rule book size.

As a hitter, if the pitcher begins to succeed with his deception tactics, your task is to keep him honest by being aggressive at the plate … not allowing the pitcher to further settle in.

The expanded baseball strike zone.

Pitchers will often get the benefit of an expanded baseball strike zone from the umpire when they’ve shown a consistent level of control during the game, and demonstrate that they’re throwing their pitches exactly where they want them. This gradual deception can be used to the pitcher’s advantage by moving pitches farther and farther off the plate and gaining control of the borderline strike zone areas.

If the umpire continues to give the pitcher these strikes, the pitcher is likely to continue using the expanded zones to his advantage. If not, as a hitter, be aware that the pitcher is likely to change course and continue to try new zones until the umpire gives him more of the plate.

One of the best known cases of a pitcher consistently receiving an expanded baseball strike zone, is that of Greg Maddux. During the course of his illustrious major league baseball career he consistently started games throwing over the plate. He then gradually worked his pitches off the plate while still receiving the strike calls. There’s no doubt that he was afforded this from the umpires because of his pinpoint control and masterful setting up of hitters.

The baseball strike zone from the pitchers vantage point

Any pitcher capable of demonstrating a fraction of Greg Maddux’s abilities is likely to be the recipient of a similarly expanded pitcher’s strike zone.

The two strike expanded zone.

Additionally, umpires have a tendency to expand the baseball strike zone when the hitter has two strikes.
As the hitter, you must be aware of this and be prepared to also expand the baseball strike zone in order to avoid becoming a victim of that embarrassing umpire’s third strike call.

Take measures to make contact. Look to possibly use the choke grip to gain better control of the bat’s head, and be sure to keep your eyes on the ball and your head down.

Plan to be aggressive. While not swinging for every pitch, regardless of its location, be ready to swing for any pitch that is close enough to be considered a strike – even if you wouldn’t normally swing for it given the pitch’s location.

Disrupting the pitcher’s deception.

The hitter at the plate often determines the area of the strike zone that the pitcher wants to hit. Knowing the tendencies and strengths of a hitter is the pitcher’s best friend.

Pitchers in general want to keep the ball down and away from the middle of the plate. Some hitters will be weak against pitches on the inner or outer halves of the plate, but most will have no trouble dealing with a pitch over the middle third of the plate.

It is for these reasons that, as the hitter, you must find ways to counteract the attempts by the pitcher to work the strike zone. Change where you stand in the batter’s box. Call time and step out of the batter’s box as the pitcher is preparing to throw. And, be aggressive when swinging the bat in order to disrupt the pitcher and the chemistry he is building with the umpire.