Sullivan: The Dodgers have played with the friendliest strike zone

From Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs on June 22, 2017:

There’s a certain asymmetry allowed in the game. Lineups can be arranged in whatever order. Defenses can be shifted however you want. The biggest and most obvious example is how every single home ballpark is unique. Distances are the same from mound to plate, and from base to base, but outfields and fences are completely different, wherever you look. It’s counted among baseball’s various charms, and I can’t recall anyone ever complaining. Every park is a different park, and it’s something we’re pleased to accept.

Yet, in theory, there’s one core component of the game that’s held constant for everybody. In theory, every player and every team is to work with identical strike zones. It would be absurd for the rules to allow the zone to be flexible, beyond considering a hitter’s particular stance. The zone is something fundamental, something necessarily equivalent, and there’s no good reason why any team should stand to benefit. In theory.

In reality, we know better! In reality, we know certain teams get better zones than others. Some of it comes down to randomness. Noise alone could explain certain fluctuations. Yet some of it is also by design. You’re the last people to whom I need to explain the concept of pitch-framing. This isn’t all about framing, but that’s a big part. Anyway, they’ve played almost three months of 2017 regular-season baseball. To this point, the Dodgers have received the friendliest strike zone, by far.

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Originally published: June 23, 2017. Last Updated: June 23, 2017.