Around two weeks ago, when Rob Manfred took over as Major League Baseball's commissioner, he mentioned, via interview, the idea of banning defensive shifts to increase offense and inject some fan interest back into the game. In the baseball community, the idea was mostly ridiculed, and various other solutions were posited. One such solution involved shrinking an ever-expanding strike zone.
Well, according to Jeff Passan, we very well might be only a season away from seeing that happen. Of note from Passan regarding the expansion of the called strike zone since 2009:
At the very least, it appears that MLB is embracing the technology at its disposal to recognize that offense has declined while strikeouts have increased. Beyond that, they've also managed to identify specific areas in which they could re-assess what a strike is in order to inject some offense back into the game.
As a fan of a team that plays in what has historically been a very hitter-friendly park, it'd certainly be nice to see the park begin to once again play more of a factor than it has in recent years. The "jet stream" that once ruled the ballpark has all but disappeared, and I'm left to wonder exactly how much of that might have had something to do with the way in which the strike zone has been enforced.
Furthermore, the top prospect in the organization, Joey Gallo, has some of the most prodigious power since Giancarlo Stanton came up, and with concerns over his future that center around his strikeouts, it'd certainly be beneficial if some of those strikeouts were artificially eliminated via some sort of rule change.
During a time in which fans have more access to technological tracking systems than ever before -- you can literally go to a site like Brooks Baseball and check Pitch/FX charts immediately following games -- it's nice to see that baseball is at least attempting to adapt when it identifies an issue. Declining offense isn't a major problem yet given that most baseball fans in the current generation still follow the game, but it figures to be a generational problem if the current trend continues to be a major issue and offense continues to decline.