This is from the “Hey Bill” Section of Bill James’ site. James’ answer makes it pretty evident he does not like the idea at all. And it is a pretty odd suggestion.
The weird thing is, I think it could work, with three caveats:
- Don’t extend the zone from head to toe and two feet off the plate, which seems to be what ventboys has in mind. Maybe expand it 2 or 3 inches up, down, and away? (Exact number is negotiable.) The inside corner would have to remain in place, however–otherwise pitchers are just going to hit the batter intentionally with two strikes.
- You would need robot umps for this, especially on the outside “corner,” since there would no longer be any corner for the umpire to use (unless you made it the near line of the opposite batter’s box). Even if you didn’t need robot umps, it would be a convenient excuse to bring them in.
- Lastly, foul balls are no longer strikes throughout the entire at-bat; they simply don’t count against the hitter at any point. (Although it’s negotiable for a no-strike count.) Without this third thing, 1-0 might become a high-scoring affair.
We should definitely try this system in an Italian league first.