New Blue Jay Joe Smith Speaks Out About MLB’s Proposed Rule Changes

Yesterday, the Toronto Blue Jays officially finalized their deal with RHP Joe Smith. He signed one-year deal with $3 million and the potential for an additional $500,00 on bonuses (as per Buster Olney).

If you weren’t aware, Joe Smith is indeed on Twitter (@JSThree8). So if you weren’t following Smith before, you may not have caught his take on the MLB’s reported new rules about raising the strike zone.

Just like the majority of players who have spoken out already, Joe Smith also isn’t a fan of the new proposed rules.


He’s right, of course. Shrinking the strike zone doesn’t equate to quicker games. If anything, as Smith suggested, would lead to more action and a perceived increase in the pace of play.

Coincidentally, FanGraphs posted their list of pitchers who would be most affected by a higher strike zone. Lo and behold, Joe Smith ranks second highest among relievers with the highest percentage of pitches close to the bottom of the strike zone. Not surprisingly, the top three pitchers on that list are sidearmers/submariners.

FanGraphs discovered that 14.7% Smith’s pitches in 2016 caught the bottom part of the strike zone. Smith’s heat map (via Baseball Savant) tells the whole story about where he likes to throw the bulk of his pitches.

Joe Smith’s 2016 Heat Map – Baseball Savant

Clearly, any rule changes would seriously affect Smith’s ability to catch the bottom of the zone. By nature, Joe Smith lives at the bottom of the strike zone. And if MLB is going to encroach on his territory, Smith has every right to be upset about someone messing with his livelihood.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark polled some insiders and they believe the players will vehemently strike down this change. It’s very, very unlikely this rule has any chance at all of being passed in the near future (in addition to the extra innings “start with a runner on second” thing.)

For now, pitchers like Joe Smith – who live at the very bottom of the strike zone – don’t have to worry about missing out on those calls at the lower end of the frame.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.