Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • Is Ryan Doumit's Catching A Critical Liability?

    Could Ryan Doumit's inability to frame pitches be a liability that overrides his value?"I don’t say this about many decisions, but starting Doumit at catcher might be a fireable offense. In 60 games at catcher for Pittsburgh in 2011, his framing cost the Pirates 20 runs. In 59 games for Minnesota in 2012, his framing cost the Twins 21 runs. All told, his framing has subtracted 98 runs over the past five seasons, on top of the damage from the other things he does poorly behind the plate, which wipes out his offensive value."
    - Ben Lindbergh, Baseball Prospectus

    It has been difficult on this site to state concerns about Ryan Doumit and the Twins extending him. In a debate last week, I was told 28-29 teams would love to have Doumit and he was more valuable than ever.


    Let's look at two teams attempt to fill out a bench.

    Last fall the Twins and Rays were both seeking catching help. The Rays signed Jose Molina and the Twins signed Doumit.

    The Rays signed Molina for 1.5 million and picked up his option for 2013 at 1.5 (also reported 1.8) million. The Twins have invested 10 million in Doumit over three years.

    For several years catching performance has been evaluated using pitch f/x. The results seem to be reliable as the catchers who perform at the top or bottom of the list remain relatively stable.

    This information and study by Mike Fast was available to both teams. Aaron Gleeman referenced it at the time of the Doumit signing.

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/ar...rticleid=15093

    Molina was the best catcher at saving runs through framing pitches over a 5 year period. Doumit was at the bottom of the list. They were at the extremes both in total and average per 120 games.

    How did it work out for both clubs?

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/a/18896

    If the metric is accurate, Molina saved his team 50 runs in 80 games. Doumit cost the Twins 21 runs in 59 games. Molina's value is all defense but those 50 runs saved represent 5 wins. Doumits -21 represents a loss of 2 wins and completely wipes out his contribution to the team as a hitter. Molina and Doumit took there familiar positions at the top and bottom of the list. A result that could have been easily projected.

    28-29 teams would love to have Doumit? Must be everyone except the Rays.

    It couldn't be more clear that the Twins evaluation differs greatly from the Rays. One other quote from the first article about the Twins management and pitch f/x

    "...Ryan Doumit, the patron saint of poor receivers. Except that Doumit hasn’t exactly been blacklisted behind the plate: in fact, he caught more innings for Minnesota in 2012 than he did as a Pirate the season before. Well, okay, you might say, but that was the Twins, the one team you could almost persuade yourself hasn’t heard about PITCHf/x yet. (“Wait, you mean all this time all of our pitchers were throwing really slowly?”)

    I am assuming you stopped reading this a long time ago if you join the Twins management in skepticism about pitch f/x.

    If not, what should the Twins do about Doumit?

    Doumit's only value as a catcher is on someone's fantasy baseball team. In that realm, Molina isn't even an afterthought.

    Doumit does have value. He can platoon at DH and pinch hit. While I question whether that role merits an extension, the real concern is the Twins management understanding of the impact of defense on wins. The Twins should not enter the season with any plan of using Doumit as a catcher. Anything more than a late inning emergency replacement can not be justified. Our young and struggling pitching staff must be given any edge the Twins can provide.

    There has been much discussion about the Twins carrying 5 catchers. It is really 4 if Doumit is rightly moved into a Jim Thome role. It is 3 if Butera does not return. One of the three, Pinto, is not near ready for the majors. That leaves Mauer and Herrmann.

    The bigger question must be asked about the Twins management. From the outside, it seems like they are taking a long time to embrace some of the metrics of the last decade.

    One roster decision about a back up catcher speaks volumes about the two teams. One team commits 3 million to get two years of top ranked defense. The other commits 10 million over three years for an above average bat without a position.

    Let's hope the Twins are right and the metrics of the last decade are poor indicators of how to build a roster and win ball games.

    This article was originally published in blog: Doumit, Molina and Pitch f/x started by jorgenswest
    Comments 56 Comments
    1. Heistyman's Avatar
      Heistyman -
      Why yes it is.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      This is a really interesting story. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

      This comes down to a simple question: how much do you trust this metric?

      BTW, it isn't about how much do you trust "pitch f/x". It's how much do you trust the method for converting the "framing" to run. And how convinced are you that the "framing" that is referenced is a skill of the catcher, versus the pitching staff, or the umpiring, or the counts that accompany the catcher.

      For instance, if Doumit tends to call more strikes early in the count than, say Molina, then one would expect the data to show that Doumit is worse at "framing" pitches. Why? Because it has been demonstrated (also using pitch f/x) that umpires are FAR more likely to count anything close to a borderline pitch a strike on a 3-0 or 3-1 count, or a ball on a 0-2 or 1-2 count.

      I don't have time to review the details of the metric, but the linked stories above seem to have quite a bit of detail. I'm looking forward to reviewing it. I'd encourage others to do so, too.

      I will say this: the thought that one's catcher, can effect a team by 60 runs based purely on his ability to frame pitches, is hard to believe. If so, it is a pretty huge finding, moreso than most defensive metrics and even moreso than McCracken's stuff. It will be interesting to see how this evolves.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Doumit is the backup. If Mauer goes down, would you sacrifice his behind-the-plate skills for his bat, compared, to say, a Butera in the line-up. Plus he offers flexibility of being able to "play" outfield and first base if push comes to shove, plus is basically written in as a DH. That Mauer is playing first, Morneau DHing, means Doumit also gets to catch some. But it also means the Twins pretty much need to carry a third catcher (who can hopefully do more than catch, or at least pinch-hit). The only reaso I would see in keeping Butera would be if the Twins saw the return of Dickey and needed someone to catch knuckle
      balls.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      This sounds a lot like the argument from several years ago that Gomez+Span are worth 80 runs a season compared to Span+Young (I believe that was the comparison). It doesn't pass the smell test... Not even close. In this situation, we're saying that Molina is worth ONE RUN A GAME more than Doumit.

      Stop and think about that for a second. One freakin' run a game... On defense. As a catcher.

      That doesn't make the slightest bit of sense no matter how you look at it. I'm all for pushing defensive metrics forward and trying to make the best use of them possible but 70+ runs difference between two catchers, neither of which played even half a season behind the plate, is laughable.

      The average team scores, what, about 5 runs a game? That means, using this metric, that just swapping out Doumit for Molina (over a half season) is worth 20% of your team runs... On defense. Just the catcher. No pitching, no fielding... Just the guy behind the plate.

      Impossible. Laughable, even. Basically, the argument here is that if you replace Doumit with Molina in 2012, the Twins pitching staff would have gone from 13th in the American League to 9th in the AL, coming pretty close to being a league average pitching staff.

      By replacing the backup catcher. Not even by replacing the starting catcher. By replacing the backup catcher. And we're not even counting their offensive contributions.

      The math here makes me shake my head. It's absurd.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Klaw has taken issue with the framing angle in his chats, too. While Molina helps with framing, it's not 50 runs, in his opinion.

      Framing is nice but it's early and we don't know how accurate it is or how long it'll stick around. (Anyone remember DIPS for pitchers? Santana overrated and Bonderman better arguments were common). As with defensive stats, it's hard to measure and it's hard to value. With both variables in doubt, it would be silly to put too much emphasis on this.
    1. DaTwins's Avatar
      DaTwins -
      Brock, have read Mike Fast or Max Marchi's work on this subject? It's pretty convincing. You can argue degrees, but framing is absolutely significant.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by DaTwins View Post
      Brock, have read Mike Fast or Max Marchi's work on this subject? It's pretty convincing. You can argue degrees, but framing is absolutely significant.
      Catchers undoubtedly have an impact on the game.

      But it's not 20% of runs allowed. Not even close. That's friggin' absurd.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Think about this for a minute, guys. Why would teams invest so much in pitching? You can take a collection of awful replacement players (basically, the Twins 2012 rotation) and if you can coax them to throwing a well below average 5.00 ERA (not setting the bar very high), to turn that into a league-average rotation, all you'd have to do is go find a catcher who is really good at framing pitches. He'll shave one full run off the ERA and turn that team into a 4.00 ERA rotation overnight. You don't need good pitchers, you only need average to below average hurlers and a good catcher!

      I mean, really. You have to be ****ing kidding me.
    1. kirbyelway's Avatar
      kirbyelway -
      You look at the pitchers Molina had to work with and the pitchers Doumit had to work with. That is your difference!!!!!!
    1. kirbyelway's Avatar
      kirbyelway -
      Frame a close pitch from Sam Deduno and frame a close pitch from David Price. Who do you think gets the strike called more often.........DUH!
    1. 108 Double Stitches's Avatar
      108 Double Stitches -
      Brock makes a good point.

      Doing a reality check after your stat is a sign of being thorough -- and
      this stat cries out that no checking was performed. Looks sloppy and
      unbelieveable with respect to the numbers being cited. Kind of, not
      so much an advanced metric but more of an advanced exageration.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      I think Bonnes point about pitch calling by the umps is a good point. he has written about that in the past. I do think 50 runs is a bit excessive too. I do believe that you have a point though about framing and calling pitches and the potential to cost runs. However I think that the offense is an important part of the game and with us lacking on so many areas. Now if Doumit could play 3rd that would be nice.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      This sounds a lot like the argument from several years ago that Gomez+Span are worth 80 runs a season compared to Span+Young (I believe that was the comparison). It doesn't pass the smell test... Not even close. In this situation, we're saying that Molina is worth ONE RUN A GAME more than Doumit.

      Stop and think about that for a second. One freakin' run a game... On defense. As a catcher.

      That doesn't make the slightest bit of sense no matter how you look at it. I'm all for pushing defensive metrics forward and trying to make the best use of them possible but 70+ runs difference between two catchers, neither of which played even half a season behind the plate, is laughable.

      The average team scores, what, about 5 runs a game? That means, using this metric, that just swapping out Doumit for Molina (over a half season) is worth 20% of your team runs... On defense. Just the catcher. No pitching, no fielding... Just the guy behind the plate.

      Impossible. Laughable, even. Basically, the argument here is that if you replace Doumit with Molina in 2012, the Twins pitching staff would have gone from 13th in the American League to 9th in the AL, coming pretty close to being a league average pitching staff.

      By replacing the backup catcher. Not even by replacing the starting catcher. By replacing the backup catcher. And we're not even counting their offensive contributions.

      The math here makes me shake my head. It's absurd.
      well said.
    1. mako83's Avatar
      mako83 -
      Is bringing AJ back totally out of the question. it seems like doumit was paid also to back up willingham as well as mauer. Is butera a minus 21 in the offense sabermetrics thing a what, he feels like it.
    1. SgtSchmidt11's Avatar
      SgtSchmidt11 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      This sounds a lot like the argument from several years ago that Gomez+Span are worth 80 runs a season compared to Span+Young (I believe that was the comparison). It doesn't pass the smell test... Not even close. In this situation, we're saying that Molina is worth ONE RUN A GAME more than Doumit.

      Stop and think about that for a second. One freakin' run a game... On defense. As a catcher.

      That doesn't make the slightest bit of sense no matter how you look at it. I'm all for pushing defensive metrics forward and trying to make the best use of them possible but 70+ runs difference between two catchers, neither of which played even half a season behind the plate, is laughable.

      The average team scores, what, about 5 runs a game? That means, using this metric, that just swapping out Doumit for Molina (over a half season) is worth 20% of your team runs... On defense. Just the catcher. No pitching, no fielding... Just the guy behind the plate.

      Impossible. Laughable, even. Basically, the argument here is that if you replace Doumit with Molina in 2012, the Twins pitching staff would have gone from 13th in the American League to 9th in the AL, coming pretty close to being a league average pitching staff.

      By replacing the backup catcher. Not even by replacing the starting catcher. By replacing the backup catcher. And we're not even counting their offensive contributions.

      The math here makes me shake my head. It's absurd.
      Agree Completely. +1
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      From the chart.....Drew Butera was also a -8.6 for 10/11. Why is it that he is considered a good defensive catcher again???? His pass balls are high, his throwing is just league average.......why???

      Tampa believes in a defensive backup C & is one of baseballs elite teams/best pitching staffs
      Minnesota believes in an offensive backup & is one of baseballs worse teams/worse pitching staffs
      Hmmmmmm
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      It is hard to believe.How can it make that much difference?

      Based on their decision making, I don't think the Twins believe it. I at least hope they were aware and considered it last fall before signing Doumit.

      Here is what strikes me about the data that is difficult to dismiss.

      Why do the same catchers to consistently well or poorly year to year? It doesn't even matter if they change teams.

      If it is pitching based and not catching based, why do catchers on the same team vary?

      It comes down to two elements.

      Is the pitch f/x reliable enough to determine when a close ball is turned into a strike or a strike on the edge into a ball?

      Is Dan Turpenkopf's work finding that switching the call from a ball to a strike on a close pitch was worth about 0.13 runs on average accurate?

      http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2008/5/12/506919/a-nibble-here-a-nibble-the

      One last link, below is the spreadsheet from 2011.

      https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/...hl=en_US#gid=0

      A year ago at the time of the Doumit signing Aaron Gleeman referenced the Mike Fast work. I put it away and came back to it when I saw that in spite of both catchers changing teams in 2012, Jose Molina and Ryan Doumit retained their spots at top and bottom of the list. Is it time for Doumit to have a role as and pinch hitter while being the emergency third catcher?

      I think most of us will ignore the work.

      Do we want the Twins to ignore it? I hope they haven't.
    1. mnfireman's Avatar
      mnfireman -
      I agree that Price, Shields, Hellickson, Moore, etc... will get more close calls than the Twins ragtag band of misfits will. Plus, how many of those framing calls does Molina get based on name and reputation? Too biased of a metric.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      I thought the stuff that I read from Fast last offseason had the reasonable range for full-time catchers as something like +/- 15.


      Are these figures coming out of the same methodology or from someone else?
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Does it matter if he gets the call because of skill or reputation? He still gets the call. Watching the videos in the study, I think it is more skill than reputation.

      Why didn't Jaso do well with that pitching staff in 2011?
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.