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Twins Blogosphere


Pitch Framing: A Sabermetric-Based Analysis of Twins Play-By-Play Broadcaster Dick Bremer

Over the past decade, pitch framing has become a hot topic, not only in how we've begun to identify its value, but also in finding methods to quantify it, and coming to grips with its influence on the game. However, I contend that our focus has been far too narrow, and we must look beyond the catcher — in fact, past the backstop, into the stands, up to the media boxes, and directly at the role of play-by-play broadcaster. How the game's on-camera talent describe the action shapes our measurement of every pitch, even when most telecasts have live strike zone graphics present.
In this post, we'll be looking at the tendencies of longtime Twins play-by-play broadcaster Dick Bremer, who has a very specific methodology: Since it sounds more impressive when a pitcher hits the corner of the strike zone, any and all parts of the strike zone and its immediate surroundings qualify as "The Corner", and will be described as such when the opportunity arises.

Our analysis will include video breakdowns of the 11 instances of the word 'corner' being used by Bremer during the Twins' April 17th game versus the Toronto Blue Jays. To quantify each pitch, we will use an Actual Corner Value (how close a pitch actually comes to a corner of the strike zone) as well as a Broadcaster Corner Value (how close the pitch comes to the corner, as perceived and presented by Dick Bremer).

Pitch #1: Bottom 2nd, 2 outs, 1-2

Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Throw: 96 mph fastball
Result: Strike 3

Dick's call: "On the outside corner, didn't waste it at all. Buried it on the outside corner."

Analysis: On a 1-2 pitch, Toronto pitcher Aaron Sanchez throws a 96 mph fastball at the outside edge of the plate, though it lands in the center third of the height of the zone with room to spare. Already, at this first sighting, we understand the challenge presented to Dick due to working on a television broadcast rather than radio, where pitch framing is sometimes less of an art and more the act of a used car salesman, free to invent whatever fiction will sell their desired narrative. Here, on TV, viewers can plainly see that this pitch is not on a corner. Dick, however, is unfazed, and reaches into his bag of tricks, declaring it on the corner not once, but TWICE - and not only stating its location, but insisting that it was BURIED there. This is the act of a seasoned professional, understanding that repetition and commitment are key to manipulating our perception, if not our very understanding of reality.

Actual Corner Value (ACV): 4/10
Broadcaster Corner Value (BCV): 10/10
Adjusted score: +6

Pitch #2: Bottom 3rd, 2 outs, 0-0

Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Throw: 96 mph fastball
Result: Strike 1

Dick's Call: "Strike on the outside corner."

Analysis: Someday, electronic strike zones will lord over our game as unfeeling adjudicators, but until that day, they serve merely as proxy armchair quarterbacks - a tool we rely on as viewers to feel validated in our desire to maim and/or injure the home plate umpire for their imperfections. On this pitch, Fox Trax smugly refuses to fill in the outline of the ball's arrival point, declaring that this pitch was a ball and all those who disagree are filthy heretics.

How comforting it is, then, for Dick to step in and remind all of us that in the end, the strike zone is defined solely by what the umpire says it is, no matter how many cameras and scanners say otherwise. This pitch is not outside. It is on the corner. The umpire's corner.

ACV: 7/10
BCV: 8/10
Adjusted score: +1

Pitch #3: Top 4th, 1 out, 1-0

Pitcher: Kyle Gibson
Throw: 94 mph fastball
Result: Strike 1

Dick's Call: "And now an outside corner fastball to even the count."

Analysis: Kyle Gibson started the 2017 season as someone fans understood to be roster filler, but ended it on an underappreciated upward trend. In 2018, he broke out with his best season to date and cemented his position at the front of the Twins rotation. Now, in 2019, he has started off somewhat shaky, with a suspect ERA and the need to make it deeper into ball games.

On this pitch, Dick has his pitcher's back, finding the corner where one does not exist. Catcher Mitch Garver positioned his glove exactly on the corner, and while Kyle missed his target high, he still found the edge and a called strike. For Dick, this is enough. He has earned approbation in the eyes of the telecast.

ACV: 5/10
BCV: 8/10
Adjusted score: +3

Pitch #4: Top 6th, 0 outs, 0-1

Pitcher: Kyle Gibson
Throw: 93 mph fastball
Result: Strike 2

Dick's Call: "On the outside corner with a fastball."

Analysis: Freddy Galvis must be listening to Dick through AirPods under that helmet, because his face says what we all know in our hearts: That was a meatball of a pitch, and Dick Bremer is a hero for carrying on the cause, however lost it may be.

ACV: 2/10
BCV: 7/10
Adjusted score: +5

Pitch #5: Top 6th, 2 outs, 0-0

Pitcher: Ryne Harper
Throw: 74 mph breaking ball
Result: Strike 1

Dick's Call: "Breaking ball on the outside corner, strike one."

Analysis: Is this pitch actually in the corner of the strike zone? Yes! The arc of the baseball tucks itself into the furthest nook available to it. In times like these, where no deception is necessary, you might expect that Dick Bremer would bluster and harangue us with unfettered righteousness, knowing that there can be no doubt as to where the ball landed. However, Dick finds a gentle touch in his commentary, content to let the pitch speak for itself, a simple declaration of its corner-ness being satisfactory. It needs no help, and will be allowed to lift its own weight.

ACV: 9/10
BCV: 9/10
Adjusted score: 0

Pitch #6: Bottom 6th, 0 outs, 0-0

Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez
Throw: 94 mph fastball
Result: Strike 1

Dick's Call: "Strike on the outside corner."

Analysis: A location extremely similar to pitch #2, though now delivered with an additional hint of defeat, as it arrives against the hot bat of Jorge Polanco. Immediately after listing his current bona fides, Polanco falls victim to the quantum state of the umpire's zone. While he was fooled, Dick was not, and he wearily sheds the burden he has carried throughout this pitch, allowing us all to taste from the tree of knowledge.

ACV: 9/10
BCV: 9/10
Adjusted score: 0

Pitch #7: Bottom 7th, 2 outs, 0-0

Pitcher: Thomas Pannone
Throw: 74 mph breaking ball
Result: Strike 1

Dick's Call: "Breaking ball over the inside corner."

Analysis: The work of a true master is present here, and we must parse the commentary carefully. The Twins are behind, but the tying run is at the plate. Now is the time for hope, and Kepler has watched a first pitch strike sail past him. Does the pitch find the corner? By exact definition, no. However, it is an excellent pitch - if one ignores that catcher Danny Jansen is set up on the exact opposite spot of the strike zone. Dick refuses to give Pannone the total satisfaction of finding the corner - stating that it is simply OVER the corner - while still testifying that it is a fine pitch. By Dick's standards, this is a backhanded compliment.

ACV: 8/10
BCV: 9/10
Adjusted score: +1

Pitch #8: Top 8th, 0 outs, 2-2

Pitcher: Tyler Duffey
Throw: 95 mph fastball
Result: Strike 3

Dick's Call: "On the outside corner. 95 on the outside edge or thereabouts, one away."

Analysis: NO! This is Duffey's first game back in the majors this season, and wanting to bolster his confidence, our protagonist has overextended himself, daring to go where others fear to tread, well outside the zone and at the exact vertical center. Corners have not existed in these parts since the days of Marty Foster's gift-wrapped delivery of Joe Nathan's 300th save. And yet, with zero hesitation, Dick plants his flag - immediately realizing that he has made a grave error. It will not be enough to double down on his argument, as was the case on Pitch #1. He knows when he has been beaten, and he retreats at the first opportunity.

It must also be noted that at the end of the clip, one can hear a chuckle from today's analyst, Jack "Back in My Day" Morris. This will be one of the few times during today's broadcast that I agree with him.

ACV: 1/10
BCV: 0/10
Adjusted score: -1

Pitch #9: Bottom 8th, 0 outs, 3-0

Pitcher: Joe Biagini
Throw: 94 mph fastball
Result: Strike 1

Dick's Call: "On the outside corner."

Analysis: Matter of fact. All business. The pitch arrived enough within the margin of error that Bremer presents his truth with the cadence of a trusted newsman.

ACV: 7/10
BCV: 8/10
Adjusted Score: +1

Pitch #10: Bottom 9th, 0 outs, 0-0

Pitcher: Ken Giles
Throw: 87 mph "fastball"
Result: Strike 1

Dick's Call: "On the outside corner, strike 1."

Analysis: The drama is beginning to rise, as the Twins are down to their final three outs, behind by a single run, and sending Nelson Cruz to the plate as a pinch hitter. Once again, the ball is only in the corner's general aura, but Dick knows we are too excited to notice, and continues past it without pause.

ACV: 6/10
BCV: 8/10
Adjusted score: +2

Pitch 11: Bot 9th, 1 out, 3-1

Pitcher: Ken Giles
Throw: 97 mph fastball
Result: Strike 2

Dick's Call: "Strike two on the outside corner... 97 in a REAL GOOD SPOT."

Analysis: Perfection. Mastery. Finally, near the climax of this game, we find what has eluded us: A true corner, spotted in the wild for all of us to enjoy, and Dick refuses to let it go to waste. His initial hushed tones give way to wonder and amazement, before his final accentuation that not only hammers home the exact precision of this corner, but makes us feel that we too knew it all along, even if we didn't happen to be looking at the TV at the time. Even if we didn't know what a strike zone was. All of us, collectively, knew what we had seen. We are enlightened and made whole. We are one with baseball, and one with each other.

ACV: 10/10
BCV: 12/10
Adjusted score: +2
Final Score: +20 Adjusted Corner Value

This concludes part one of this series. Stay tuned for part two, when we extend our gaze to the rest of the strike zone, and learn about the subtext necessary when one is not allowed to call a professional baseball player a 'belly itcher' and get away with it for long. In the meantime, for my research purposes, please share any high-BCV highlights for your team of choice in the comments.

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13 Comments

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This could be the first instance of a full-fledged Article at TD earning the writer a coveted Warning Point from the moderators for trolling, but I will have to check with my colleagues...

 

Nah, nah, it's just Satire, and well executed. Good job!

    • glunn, diehardtwinsfan, pbrezeasap and 3 others like this

Very good stuff!

    • ashbury, glunn, Kevin and 1 other like this

Nobody will dub Dick Bremmer's play calling "edgy." 

    • ashbury, Riverbrian, CUtomorrownight and 2 others like this
I assume this means you have time to come over and clean out my garage?
    • ashbury, old nurse, Sconnie and 5 others like this

Nobody will dub Dick Bremmer's play calling "edgy."

if the outside corner is the edge of the strike zone, then Bremer’s calling is VERY “edgy”
    • ashbury likes this
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Nine of twelve
Apr 20 2019 12:16 PM

My inner mathematician wishes to point out that the strike zone is a pentagonal prism with seven faces (or sides), fifteen edges, and ten corners.

    • ashbury, diehardtwinsfan, pbrezeasap and 10 others like this
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killertwinfan
Apr 20 2019 12:31 PM

 

My inner mathematician wishes to point out that the strike zone is a pentagonal prism with seven faces (or sides), fifteen edges, and ten corners.

So Bremer is right then? Just not very descriptive as to which corner...

    • ashbury, Riverbrian, Hosken Bombo Disco and 3 others like this
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AlwaysinModeration
Apr 20 2019 01:15 PM
This was some really exceptional analysis. I am awarding TwinkiePower a TPCV (TwinkiePower Column Value) a +7.

You know, I am suspicious that at least Jack Morris, if not both Jack and Dick, are regular readers of TD. The other day I posted a long piece on Buxton’s stolen base streak, including info on his last caught stealing. Jack mentioned some details about that caught stealing in the next broadcast that I mentioned in the piece. Made me think he might read the site to get fodder for broadcasts.

So anyway, I bet Dick hears about his “corners” in a broadcast soon!
    • ashbury and hybridbear like this

 

My inner mathematician wishes to point out that the strike zone is a pentagonal prism with seven faces (or sides), fifteen edges, and ten corners.

True, which means theoretically a baseball could enter the zone from the sides or from above, and be a strike. Not from below, though. That would require a bounce. 

 

Also when Dick says, "Over the outside corner," that describes a vertical vector traveling upwards from that corner, unto infinity. So, a "strike over the x corner" is grammatically and technically correct. However, Bremmer's "strike ON the outside corner," when the pitch was between the upper and lower corners, it inaccurate.

 

Possibly better to say, "Strike, intersecting the outer line segment between upper and lower corners." Or, as Nine of Twelve might say, "Strike, intersecting the outer face of the pentagonal prism." Let's see Dick say that ten times!

    • hybridbear and Nine of twelve like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Apr 20 2019 06:07 PM

True, which means theoretically a baseball could enter the zone from the sides or from above, and be a strike. Not from below, though. That would require a bounce. 

Not as crazy as you think!

Also, bonus points for anyone who can come up with the name of the catcher here...

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Tom Froemming
Apr 20 2019 06:11 PM

 

Not as crazy as you think!

Also, bonus points for anyone who can come up with the name of the catcher here...

082615_atl_pierzynski_frame_med_sjo1hayv

AJ!

    • pbrezeasap, jimbo92107, Hosken Bombo Disco and 1 other like this
Good presentation. It's not where pitch hits catcher's mitt, but, where it crosses plate. The upper part seems like it should be higher.

 

This was some really exceptional analysis. I am awarding TwinkiePower a TPCV (TwinkiePower Column Value) a +7.

You know, I am suspicious that at least Jack Morris, if not both Jack and Dick, are regular readers of TD. The other day I posted a long piece on Buxton’s stolen base streak, including info on his last caught stealing. Jack mentioned some details about that caught stealing in the next broadcast that I mentioned in the piece. Made me think he might read the site to get fodder for broadcasts.

So anyway, I bet Dick hears about his “corners” in a broadcast soon!

 

I think it is safe to assume, that the majority of players, office staff, broadcasters, producers read Twinsdaily and not just the articles.

 

They are on these forums because it is only human nature to see what is being said about you. Kind of like putting your tongue on a canker sore just to know you are alive. They may not admit it, but yeah they know how to navigate the internet and find comments about them.:)

 

 

    • hybridbear likes this

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