Major League Baseball has been looking to speed up its pace of play for a while now, and commissioner Rob Manfred has recently proposed several rule changes to the MLB Players Association with that goal in mind.
One of these potential rule changes is the raising of the strike zone from “the hollow beneath the kneecap,” which has been the rule since 1996, to the top of the hitter’s knees.
This change would potentially raise the strike zone two inches, which would benefit certain players more than others, depending upon their hitting style.
One player who would be one of the biggest “potential winners” of such a rule would be Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, according to ESPN Insider writer Craig Edwards.
Last season Goldschmidt saw 224 pitches 18-21 inches off the ground, 50 of them called strikes. He swung at only 79, and his 35 percent swing rate in that area ranked 128th out of 134 hitters. When he did swing, the results weren’t good. In 48 at-bats that ended in that part of the zone, Goldschmidt struck out 15 times, hit into five double plays and recorded only nine hits, all singles.
Goldschmidt lives up in the zone with a .791 slugging percentage in the upper third of the strike zone, but even moving the zone up three inches would turn the lowest part of the zone from a weak area to an average one, allowing him to wait for the pitches up in his wheelhouse.
A smaller strike zone would also seemingly lead to even more walks for a player who has finished in the top three in the major leagues in base on balls each of the past two seasons, with 110 in 2016 and 118 in 2015.
The 29-year-old is entering his seventh season in the majors and a potential strike zone change would go a long way in helping him make his fifth straight All-Star team in 2017.
Even with the current strike zone, Goldschmidt is one of the best hitters in the game. Last season, he batted .297 with 24 home runs, 33 doubles and 95 RBIs. He added 106 runs and 32 stolen bases on the basepads, both of which were tops among MLB first basemen and career-highs.
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