Freiman: The minor-league strike zone is objectively different

From Nate Freiman at FanGraphs on August 14, 2018:

In 2011, I was playing at High-A for the Padres. I’d graduated from the Midwest League to Lake Elsinore in the California League. (They have the cool storm-eyes logo, but it scares my toddler so my old hats are in boxes.) Since we were so close to San Diego, we got lots of guys on MLB rehab assignments. I was a senior sign making $1,300 a month, so it was huge when someone like Orlando Hudson came through and bought us Outback.

During their assignments, every MLB guy got The Question: “What’s it like up there?” The best answer I ever heard was, “Chuck E Cheese for adults.” O-Dog, as Hudson was known, had a pretty strong reply, too: “Better balls, better lights, and a better zone.”

In this case, “better zone” means two things. The first is size. (“That’s outside!”) The second is consistency. (“That’s been a strike all day!”) And O-Dog was right: the umpiring (just like the play on the field) does get better as you go up. We’d be in some cramped clubhouse, playing cards, and eating our $11 PB+Js, watching the big club, when a pitcher would inevitably yell, “That’s a strike!” And maybe it was… by Northwest League standards.

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Originally published: August 15, 2018. Last Updated: August 15, 2018.