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View Full Version : Why do pitchers hate it when batters crowd the plate?


YogSothoth
01-25-2011, 11:09 AM
My non-baseball mind thinks: If they crowd the plate, its going to be tougher to get their bat's sweetspot onto the pitch, because you'd have to pull in your swing tigher (which gives it less power), and can really only hit towards 3rd base due to the angle. Pitchers should love that.

What's wrong with that analysis?

Marley23
01-25-2011, 11:13 AM
When the batter crowds the plate, it becomes harder for the pitcher to throw inside because he is more likely to hit the batter and put him on base. It might also make it tougher for the pitcher to get a strike called on the inside corner. Crowding also makes pitches on the outside corner or off the corner less effective because they are easier for the batter to reach. The batter can move, but the strike zone doesn't.

markdash
01-25-2011, 11:16 AM
It has nothing to do with the ability of the hitter to get the bat on the ball, and everything to do with hitting the batter with a pitch.

The closer the batter stands to the plate, the higher the probability he's going to be hit by a pitch off the inside corner (or, rarely, even a pitch that's over the plate).

So the pitcher is left with a choice between throwing on the inside corner and risking a HBP, or letting the ball leak out over the plate a bit and risk a free souvenir for the fans in the left field stands.

BobLibDem
01-25-2011, 11:16 AM
Guys like Bob Gibson and Dizzy Dean had ways of dealing with batters standing too close to the plate. It's getting to be a lost art, though.

Barkis is Willin'
01-25-2011, 11:50 AM
Guys like Bob Gibson and Dizzy Dean had ways of dealing with batters standing too close to the plate. It's getting to be a lost art, though.

This touches on a serious issue, which is that to get a guy off the plate you throw a little sweet chin music. However, now a days that kind of thing is frowned upon and likely to earn a pitcher a warning and eventually an ejection.

ReticulatingSplines
01-25-2011, 12:11 PM
I don't think it's even so much merely a matter of pitchers disliking batters trying to get themselves plunked; it's that batters do it the cheap way, by cladding themselves in rollerblading pads and THEN leaning over the plate. *cough*craigbiggio

Munch
01-25-2011, 12:13 PM
Yeah - Biggio and Bonds were the worst at it. It's one thing to keep your catcher gear on at bat, it's another to be a big lug like Don Baylor leaning in and getting nailed.

BrotherCadfael
01-25-2011, 01:21 PM
So, pitchers don't like it when batters crowd the plate because it makes it too easy to hit the batter... so they respond by hitting the batter? Weird.

Marley23
01-25-2011, 01:52 PM
So, pitchers don't like it when batters crowd the plate because it makes it too easy to hit the batter... so they respond by hitting the batter? Weird.
Not all hit by pitches are equal. If you're just hanging over the plate and get hit by accident, you might get a curveball in the thigh. If the pitcher wants to hit you, you might get a fastball to your upper back. And an intentional HBP sends a message to the batter and the rest of the team for future at-bats, although you don't have to hit him to do that. You can do the same kind of thing by throwing inside and making him move.

Munch
01-25-2011, 01:54 PM
So, pitchers don't like it when batters crowd the plate because it makes it too easy to hit the batter... so they respond by hitting the batter? Weird.

Not really. When one guy goes up and crowds the plate, it does a few things.

1. It takes away the inside of the strike zone. This is bad for the pitcher because not only is the inside hard for the batter to hit, but it makes setting up an outside pitch that much harder.
2. It incrementally shrinks the strike zone. This is because umps are terrible, and will judge some pitches by how close it is to the batter, rather than on the actual strike zone (determined by the width of home plate).
3. It screws with the pitcher. Pitchers should aim their pitches based on the position of the plate, but like the umps, the relative position of the batter does have an effect on where to throw/aim (or for an ump, call a strike). A crowded plate will make a pitcher a bit more uncomfortable throwing inside.
4. It increases the likelihood of hitting the batter.
5. It does all of the above for the rest of your lineup as well - so one player crowding the plate will have an effect down the line, albeit decreasingly so.

So to prevent that from happening, pitchers will throw at (and by "at" I mean "very close to" - repeated transgressors will get beaned) the first batter that crowds the plate, to brush him off the inside.

Uncle Jocko
01-25-2011, 02:17 PM
I think it might have been Bob Gibson who used to say, "The outside half of the plate is mine." Basically, pitchers want to be able to hit the outside corners of the strike zone, while a healthy fear of a 90-mile-an-hour fastball on the part of the batter keeps him far enough off the plate that it's hard to get the bat on the ball out there.

When a batter crowds the plate, he's trying to take that "outside half of the plate" for himself, in order to be able to get around on those outside pitches the pitcher was counting on for strikes. That's why pitchers hate it when batters crowd the plate ... not so much that they're afraid they'll get a hit-by-pitch, but that the batters are upsetting the balance of power between the two.

Back in the day, as mentioned above, pitchers like Gibson and Drysdale and heck, just about everybody, had a response for that. Throwing a pitch inside, to make that batter think again about how much a fastball in the ribs would hurt (usually while he was sitting in the dirt after bailing out away from the pitch), so they'd back off the plate a little. Thereby ... the pitcher regains the advantage of putting pitches on the outside corners.

Nowadays, pitching inside gets you warnings and ejections. Not to mention hitters like Bonds and Biggio, who wear freakin' Kevlar body armor when they step in the box. They can practically stand on top of the plate and drive outside pitches to far corners of the universe, with very little fear of the inside pitch.

So that's why pitchers hate when batters crowd the plate. Yes, it's harder for the batter to get around on an inside pitch ... but it's also harder for the pitcher to get the inside pitch across without plunking the guy. So the batter gets a big advantage ... ability to hit the outside pitch, while the inside pitch might get you on base, too.

Marley23
01-25-2011, 02:19 PM
Nowadays, pitching inside gets you warnings and ejections. Not to mention hitters like Bonds and Biggio, who wear freakin' Kevlar body armor when they step in the box. They can practically stand on top of the plate and drive outside pitches to far corners of the universe, with very little fear of the inside pitch.
I think there are restrictions on those wrist guards now, and you don't get ejected for throwing one pitch inside. It's true the umps are inconsistent and often stupid with the warnings, though.

BobLibDem
01-25-2011, 02:26 PM
So, pitchers don't like it when batters crowd the plate because it makes it too easy to hit the batter... so they respond by hitting the batter? Weird.

Not really weird for the reasons pointed out. The pitcher really needs that outside part of the plate and should have the right to knock you on your ass to keep it. As long as you're not headhunting, I think pitchers should be allowed to brush people back if:
1) they crowd the plate
2) they dig in too much (One time Dizzy Dean hollered at a batter "Dig yourself a deep one, sonny boy, ol' Diz' is gonna bury you right there")
3) they peek at the catcher's signs
4) they come up at bat right after a home run

Tom Scud
01-25-2011, 02:34 PM
I think there are restrictions on those wrist guards now, and you don't get ejected for throwing one pitch inside. It's true the umps are inconsistent and often stupid with the warnings, though.

They did, some time in the early '00s, I think, mainly in response to Biggio & Bonds and others wearing those guards. You can still wear one if you've got a doctor's note that you need it to protect against re-injury or something like that.

Tom Scud
01-25-2011, 02:35 PM
I'm not sure I really buy that kids these days are all soft and don't throw beanballs, either. Pedro was a ridiculous headhunter.

Marley23
01-25-2011, 02:38 PM
The last few years I've heard complaints that there are too many beanballs these days, and that you see pitchers "retaliating" for HBPs that were clearly not intentional.

Tom Scud
01-25-2011, 02:39 PM
Also, I think Dizzy Dean never spoke, he only hollered.

RickJay
01-25-2011, 02:51 PM
4) they come up at bat right after a home run
It isn't a contact sport. I see no reason why a pitcher should throw at a batter after he gives up a home run. That's just being a shithead. If he doesn't like giving up home runs, maybe Mr. Pitcher should throw better pitches.

I'll tell you what, though; you throw at my batter for such a stupid reason, and I'll wait for your best hitter to come up and order my pitcher to throw at his head. Bad sportsmanship IS a good reason to throw at a batter.

YogSothoth
01-25-2011, 02:55 PM
Baseball bugs me because it has so much unwritten rules

I'm assuming that the batter's box is where the batter has to stay, and that if he violates it, the umpire can tell a batter to move back, or adjust his position. Why shouldn't a batter crowd the plate if he can get a better advantage and it's not forbidden? And why should a pitcher not be reprimanded for trying to throw off the batter with an inside pitch? He wants the advantage for himself, so does the batter. It just so happens only one of them has the ability to throw a 90mph ball at the other's head

To me, as a non-baseball guy and certainly not a traditionalist, pitchers should just pitch without the advantage of having the batter farther from the plate. If it's legal for the batter to do it, they should crowd the plate, and pitchers just have to adjust their pitches. God forbid we actually have more scoring in baseball

Munch
01-25-2011, 03:07 PM
And why should a pitcher not be reprimanded for trying to throw off the batter with an inside pitch?
Why are you trying to replace one "unwritten rule" with another? Neither crowding the plate nor brushing a hitter back are against the rules. Let them work it out on their own. Yeah, the pitcher can throw 90 mph. But a line drive goes considerably faster than that, and a HR is considerably more detrimental to the pitcher than a HBP.

Marley23
01-25-2011, 03:08 PM
I'm assuming that the batter's box is where the batter has to stay, and that if he violates it, the umpire can tell a batter to move back, or adjust his position.
The batter's box is where the hitter's feet have to be. This is more about where the batter's body is positioned. I don't know what the rules say, but hanging over the plate has been tolerated for a while even if it's not allowed. There are some complaints that batters further skewed this equation unfairly when they started wearing large pads on their bodies.

Why shouldn't a batter crowd the plate if he can get a better advantage and it's not forbidden?
Who says he shouldn't? He's trying to get an advantage. The pitcher doesn't want him to get that advantage.

leftfield6
01-25-2011, 03:09 PM
Every sport has unwritten rules, baseball has just been around forever, and seems to have more of them.

The batters box is a chalk line laid down before the game starts. So what does the first guy up to bat do? Erase as much of it as he can, accidentally of course, while digging himself in. By the second inning that back line and inside line of the batters box is practically gone. No batters box line, so it's near impossible for an ump to call foul on the hitters for setting up with their front foot on or over the line, so the hitter has now gained a little advantage.

Munch
01-25-2011, 03:13 PM
Well that answer was a little out of...oh. Nevermind.

gonzomax
01-25-2011, 03:53 PM
The batter's box is where the hitter's feet have to be. This is more about where the batter's body is positioned. I don't know what the rules say, but hanging over the plate has been tolerated for a while even if it's not allowed. There are some complaints that batters further skewed this equation unfairly when they started wearing large pads on their bodies.


Who says he shouldn't? He's trying to get an advantage. The pitcher doesn't want him to get that advantage.

The first thing a leadoff batter does is erase the inside of the batters box. They want to have a chance to get good wood on a pitch that nibbles at the outside edge. The pitcher of course, wants to get them to swing at an almost unhittable outside pitch. So he brushes them back away from the plate.

YogSothoth
01-25-2011, 04:18 PM
Why are you trying to replace one "unwritten rule" with another? Neither crowding the plate nor brushing a hitter back are against the rules. Let them work it out on their own. Yeah, the pitcher can throw 90 mph. But a line drive goes considerably faster than that, and a HR is considerably more detrimental to the pitcher than a HBP.

Is "not throwing purposefully at a batter's head" really an unwritten rule? Not rhetorical, I really want to know


The batter's box is where the hitter's feet have to be. This is more about where the batter's body is positioned. I don't know what the rules say, but hanging over the plate has been tolerated for a while even if it's not allowed. There are some complaints that batters further skewed this equation unfairly when they started wearing large pads on their bodies.


To me, again coming from a no-baseball perspective, that isn't breaking the rule. The feet have to be in the batter's box, and the feet are. Any contortion of the body to hang over the plate is fair game for the batter


Who says he shouldn't? He's trying to get an advantage. The pitcher doesn't want him to get that advantage.

The pitcher says he shouldn't, and he enforces that by illegally (maybe) throwing a ball at the batter's head. Now, two things I get from that are:

1) If it's not forbidden for the batter to crowd the plate like that, then the pitcher should not throw at the batter's head to move him back. The pitcher should accept that the batter gets an advantage

2) If the umpire warns the pitcher and can throw him out, then it can't be an unwritten rule (again, awaiting response from my question above to Munch. I really don't know if that's a written rule or not) and must be illegal, so pitchers should never throw the ball at a batter to push him back from doing a legal move

It seems to me, from this issue, pitchers are being dicks. They could just follow the rules (if it exists) and not throw the ball at the batter's head and just accept that batters will crowd the plate. Adjust your pitch accordingly

I really don't see how batters are doing anything wrong if the rules simply state that their feet have to be within the line. If what leftfield6 says is true and batters like to erase the mark, simply make a rule stating they can't or they get a strike or something. Or make the marks on the ground unerasable

Marley23
01-25-2011, 04:47 PM
To me, again coming from a no-baseball perspective, that isn't breaking the rule. The feet have to be in the batter's box, and the feet are. Any contortion of the body to hang over the plate is fair game for the batter
I think the only rule (6.03) says "The batter’s legal position shall be with both feet within the batter’s box" and that's it.

The pitcher says he shouldn't, and he enforces that by illegally (maybe) throwing a ball at the batter's head.
The rule (8.02 (d)) says this:

The pitcher shall not [...] intentionally pitch at the batter.
If, in the umpire’s judgment, such a violation occurs, the umpire may elect either to:
1. Expel the pitcher, or the manager and the pitcher, from the game, or
2. may warn the pitcher and the manager of both teams that another such pitch
will result in the immediate expulsion of that pitcher (or a replacement) and
the manager.
If, in the umpire’s judgment, circumstances warrant, both teams may be officially
“warned” prior to the game or at any time during the game.
(League Presidents may take additional action under authority provided in Rule
9.05)
Rule 8.02(d) Comment: To pitch at a batter’s head is unsportsmanlike and highly dangerous. It should be—and is—condemned by everybody. Umpires should act without hesitation in enforcement of this rule.
All of which is to say that trying to hit someone is against the rules, but pitching inside to back someone up is not against the rules in and of itself, and all of it is a judgment call.

You also keep restricting this to throwing at the batter's head. If a pitcher wants to hit a batter, he usually won't aim for his head.

YogSothoth
01-25-2011, 05:09 PM
Well, then throwing intentionally at the batter then. Of course, that's up to the umpire, but it's pretty obvious sometimes, especially if such a pitch is precipitated by something that broke the unwritten rules of baseball.

I'm not saying this is a perfect example, but in the NBA, if teams are getting testy and lots of emotion is being shown on the court, especially during the playoffs, refs often start calling the games tigher to bring the game under control, or handing out technical fouls to the next guy who even remotely warrants it

In baseball, maybe after one guy gets a homerun and shows off or something, angering the other team, the umpire can warn the pitcher that any pitches towards the batter, as long as it looks like its intentional, will be a major foul on the pitcher's part and get him thrown out. If the intention is to follow the rules as it is written, then pitchers shouldn't be allowed to retaliate

Marley23
01-25-2011, 05:17 PM
It's obvious sometimes, but other times, it's not obvious. Frankly, they get it wrong often enough as it is. The umpires are very quick to assume a pitcher is throwing at a hitter.

Jeff Lichtman
01-26-2011, 04:53 AM
When a batter crowds the plate, a certain type of pitcher pretty much has to throw inside in order to get the batter out. One of the most common pitching patterns is high inside fastballs and low outside breaking or off-speed pitches. The idea is to keep the batter off-balance - it's hard to prepare for and react to both types of pitches. A batter who crowds the plate is in a good position to hit a low outside pitch, and in a poor position to hit a high inside fastball. A pitcher who relies on this pitching pattern will give the batter a steady diet of inside pitches in this situation until the batter backs away from the plate. The purpose is not just to scare the batter with the threat of being hit with a pitch - it's to throw pitches that will be hard to hit.

Polycarp
01-26-2011, 07:00 AM
I think the only rule (6.03) says "The batter’s legal position shall be with both feet within the batter’s box" and that's it.


The rule (8.02 (d)) says this:


All of which is to say that trying to hit someone is against the rules, but pitching inside to back someone up is not against the rules in and of itself, and all of it is a judgment call.

You also keep restricting this to throwing at the batter's head. If a pitcher wants to hit a batter, he usually won't aim for his head.

The perfect counter to this problem is for the catcher, on the appropriate exchange of signals, to call time, turn to the batter, and alert him, in the umpire's presence, "I am required by the laws of this state and the rules of baseball to warn you that one of the next few pitches is likely to be a high inside pitch, which will be aimed to pass a foot from you in your normal stance in the batter's box if not hit. However, if you insist on crowding the plate, it should pass about an inch from your head. Naturally we cannot guarantee pinpoint accuracy, so it is my duty to warn you that a pitch which may unintentionally strike your body is forthcoming." If the batter continues to insist on crowding the plate, well, it's been made clear that he's not being intentionally aimed at.

jonesj2205
01-26-2011, 08:30 AM
There's already a solution to the problem of batter's crowding the strike zone, it's just not enforced. If the ball is in the strike zone when it hits the batter, it's a strike.
If the batter wants to lean in right up against the strike zone, that's fine and the pitcher should pound the inside part of the plate. And as long as he can keep it over the plate he'll do fine.
But too many hitters today actually hang over the plate and take part of the zone away because if they get hit the umps give them the base rather than call it a strike.

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