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Article: Joe Mauer and catcher framing

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#1 Parker Hageman

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 09:35 AM

You can view the page at http://twinsdaily.co...catcher-framing

#2 Willihammer

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 09:56 AM

I don't know if its really fair to compare Mauer to Lucroy, who is about as elite as Jose Molina in terms of framing.

Might be that Mauer still gets an above average number of low strikes called.

edit:

Mauer’s 19.5% strike rate low in the zone is well-below the average for catchers –in fact, 41.3% below average.


So, the average low strike rate is 19.5/.587 = 33.2%?

Edited by Willihammer, 17 April 2013 - 09:59 AM.


#3 Willihammer

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 10:13 AM

We classified pitches within two inches above the strike zone as “high,” within two inches below the strike zone as “low,"

[TABLE="align: center"]
[TR]
[TD]rea
[/TD]
[TD] Called Strikes
[/TD]
[TD] Called Pitches
[/TD]
[TD] Called Strike Percentage
[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD] High
[/TD]
[TD] 5200
[/TD]
[TD] 27302
[/TD]
[TD] 19.0
[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD] Low
[/TD]
[TD] 16666
[/TD]
[TD] 50145
[/TD]
[TD] 33.2
[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD] Side
[/TD]
[TD] 28725
[/TD]
[TD] 123832
[/TD]
[TD] 23.2[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]


So that's 1.34 low pitches per half inning. 12 per game. Mauer gets 2.3 of them called strikes, and the average catcher gets 3.8. A strike and a half per game on average. yeah that seems significant.

#4 gunnarthor

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 10:18 AM

"Hansel hot"? Not sure I've ever heard that expression before.

#5 Don't Feed the Greed Guy

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 10:32 AM

Another great article for us novices, Parker. You raise my knowledge of the game, and appreciation for the finer details. Also, good use of graphics/links. Nice work.

#6 Parker Hageman

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 11:17 AM

@Willihammer,

I don't think you are incorrect in questioning the impact of a catcher's ability to corral more strikes, because I don't think there is a straight line you can draw and say this skill is worth X amount of wins. However, Mike Fast at BP (now an Astros front office staff) attempted to quantify it. His research said an elite catcher like Jose Molina was work 72 runs over five season -- roughly 7 wins.

To me, what it is, which I attempted to explain in the begin, is the butterfly effect caused by a catcher's inability to get a strike called -- similar to a fielder's inability to make a play on a batted ball. The totals may be few -- as you pointed out -- but the events that transpire after that occurrence is what may effect the pitcher/team.

"Hansel hot"? Not sure I've ever heard that expression before.


Not a Zoolander fan? Is that reference too dated? Am I getting that old?

#7 Oxtung

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 11:37 AM

So that's 1.34 low pitches per half inning. 12 per game. Mauer gets 2.3 of them called strikes, and the average catcher gets 3.8. A strike and a half per game on average. yeah that seems significant.


You have to take into account the other half of the equation though. How many strikes got called balls? The differential is the important part. That number is not nearly as large. For instance Yadier Molina's NET strike's called is 3 for the entire season so far. That's 3 more strike's than should have been called through 45 Innings.

#8 Dave T

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 12:32 PM

I have a different "other half of the equation". Joe is getting more high strike calls than Lucroy. Even a sinker ball pitcher has to throw high once in a while.

#9 husker brian

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 12:52 PM

Those are just two terrible calls on both pitches highlighted. Umpires are so inconsistent with the strike zone, its a tough stat to track, IMO.

#10 Willihammer

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 01:03 PM

You have to take into account the other half of the equation though. How many strikes got called balls? The differential is the important part. That number is not nearly as large. For instance Yadier Molina's NET strike's called is 3 for the entire season so far. That's 3 more strike's than should have been called through 45 Innings.


Out of curiosity where did you get that info?

Its a complicated question no doubt. There are also the merciful umpire and the ruthless umpire effects. So count has to be factored into the equation somewhere. If you have a strikethrowing staff, it woudl stand to reason that you are going to lose a lot more of those borderline 0-2 calls, and likewise, if your staff falls behind a lot, you might get the benefit of more 2-0 and 3-0 strike calls. But maybe Mike Fast and the guys at BP are already accounting for things like this.

#11 Willihammer

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 01:09 PM

@Willihammer,

I don't think you are incorrect in questioning the impact of a catcher's ability to corral more strikes, because I don't think there is a straight line you can draw and say this skill is worth X amount of wins. However, Mike Fast at BP (now an Astros front office staff) attempted to quantify it. His research said an elite catcher like Jose Molina was work 72 runs over five season -- roughly 7 wins.

To me, what it is, which I attempted to explain in the begin, is the butterfly effect caused by a catcher's inability to get a strike called -- similar to a fielder's inability to make a play on a batted ball. The totals may be few -- as you pointed out -- but the events that transpire after that occurrence is what may effect the pitcher/team.

I was trying to scale the rates and totals into something digestible but maybe it was a vain attempt since yeah pretty much impossible to zip up the cumulative effects into a single statistic. Its all too easy to imagine a scenario like last night where Swarzak gets screwed out of 1 lousy strike and it leading to a 9 run rally and lost game.

#12 ThePuck

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 01:14 PM

I was trying to scale the rates and totals into something digestible but maybe it was a vain attempt since yeah pretty much impossible to zip up the cumulative effects into a single statistic. Its all too easy to imagine a scenario like last night where Swarzak gets screwed out of 1 lousy strike and it leading to a 9 run rally and lost game.


speaking of Swarzak, he seemed to be throwing completely different than he used to. I couldn't believe my eyes last night. Throwing with determination, movement all over the place...snapping off pitches. Totally in the zone. It was great to see.

#13 cmathewson

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 01:36 PM

That Parmelee strike was made worse by the fact that he had been very stingy on strikes on the outside corner with a lefty hitting all night. Pelfry had several that I thought were on the corner or on the black called balls. Relative to many of those, that one was six inches outside and four inches low. It was one of the most inconsistent zones I've seen all year.
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#14 Thor

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 01:40 PM

You also have to take the pitcher into account. I could catch Greg Maddux and get a lot of borderline calls but Swarzak isn't going to get near the calls regardless of who is behind the plate.

#15 h2oface

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 04:14 PM

It is a shame that this even comes into play now. A shame that the balls and strikes can't just be balls and strikes, because they are and the tech is there to make it right all the time.

#16 Oxtung

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 04:22 PM

Out of curiosity where did you get that info?

Its a complicated question no doubt. There are also the merciful umpire and the ruthless umpire effects. So count has to be factored into the equation somewhere. If you have a strikethrowing staff, it woudl stand to reason that you are going to lose a lot more of those borderline 0-2 calls, and likewise, if your staff falls behind a lot, you might get the benefit of more 2-0 and 3-0 strike calls. But maybe Mike Fast and the guys at BP are already accounting for things like this.


I got it from the original BP article linked to in Parker's article. They are tracking Yadier Molina's weekly and yearly totals in their weekly article. It would be nice if we could see ALL the background data and look at Mauer and Doumit specifically but I don't know that the raw data is easily available.

#17 fairweather

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 04:30 PM

Those bottom inches of the strike zone are critical. Mauer shouldn't catch.

#18 Ultima Ratio

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 04:39 PM

I'm beginning to join the unpopular position of letting technology call the strikes, not a human. It's real time, no delay, no bias, complete viewing coverage of the plate. Umpiring is becoming a "make-work" program. I don't hold this view in any strong way, but would love to hear the arguments on both sides. I guess one obstacle would be letting the catcher know in real time whether the pitch were a strike or not when runners are moving and on dropped third strikes. Would there be and immediate flash of light or sound indicating a strike -- like they have in tennis on serves to call it out? I dunno, but I think this eventually will happen.

#19 Guest_USAFChief_*

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 04:40 PM

It is a shame that this even comes into play now. A shame that the balls and strikes can't just be balls and strikes, because they are and the tech is there to make it right all the time.

I'm not sure that's true. I'd like to believe it, but just because a mechanical system measures a given pitch, doesn't mean that measurement is actually correct. Small sample size, but go take a look at the BP article in Parker's article. Down near the bottom you'll see "worst frames." Take a look at number 5 (Hendriks Doumit)...a pitch measured as 0.000 ft from the strike zone. The pitch is clearly well inside, a fact even mentioned by the author in his comments. Yet according to "the tech," the pitch should have been called a strike. I'd like to see some independent proof that pitch f/x or any other system is more accurate than umpires before I assume it to be true. We already know questec was basically garbage, and you only have to watch a game, and simultaneously watch one of the gameday-like simulators, to know the gameday representation of pitches is questionable at best.

#20 cmathewson

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 05:04 PM

I'm not sure that's true. I'd like to believe it, but just because a mechanical system measures a given pitch, doesn't mean that measurement is actually correct. Small sample size, but go take a look at the BP article in Parker's article. Down near the bottom you'll see "worst frames." Take a look at number 5 (Hendriks Doumit)...a pitch measured as 0.000 ft from the strike zone. The pitch is clearly well inside, a fact even mentioned by the author in his comments. Yet according to "the tech," the pitch should have been called a strike. I'd like to see some independent proof that pitch f/x or any other system is more accurate than umpires before I assume it to be true. We already know questec was basically garbage, and you only have to watch a game, and simultaneously watch one of the gameday-like simulators, to know the gameday representation of pitches is questionable at best.


There will come a time when a mechanical balls-and-strikes umpire will be clearly more effective than a human. I remember when Wimbeldon went to our system (I work for IBM) for line judge calls. It took that error out of the game. Now, that's in one dimension and the strike zone is in two dimensions, so it's more complex. But just looking at Fox Trax gives me confidence that a machine would be better than many umpires right now. Given Moore's Law, it's a matter of a couple of years before the machines are better than all human umpires.

At the very least, they should consider a system like the NFL has: Managers get a few calls a game to challenge. If the system shows that the ump made an obvious bad call, it will be reversed. If not, the manager is charged with something--a ball to the next batter or something. That call in the Rangers/Rays game would never happen with such a system.
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#21 Guest_USAFChief_*

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 05:16 PM

There will come a time when a mechanical balls-and-strikes umpire will be clearly more effective than a human. I remember when Wimbeldon went to our system (I work for IBM) for line judge calls. It took that error out of the game. Now, that's in one dimension and the strike zone is in two dimensions, so it's more complex. But just looking at Fox Trax gives me confidence that a machine would be better than many umpires right now. Given Moore's Law, it's a matter of a couple of years before the machines are better than all human umpires.

At the very least, they should consider a system like the NFL has: Managers get a few calls a game to challenge. If the system shows that the ump made an obvious bad call, it will be reversed. If not, the manager is charged with something--a ball to the next batter or something. That call in the Rangers/Rays game would never happen with such a system.

A) I get your point, but in fact the strike zone is three dimensional, not two. B) Machines may very well be better than humans right now, for all I know. But I don't know, and I also don't know if a machine derived strike zone does anything to improve the game. C) I am in favor of a 5th umpire in the booth, who reviews safe/out calls, fair/foul etc as they happen. In most cases, we know before the next pitch is thrown whether an ump blew a call at 1st, for example. That would be simple to fix, and would most likely not affect game time or flow too seriously. I am most definitely NOT in favor of an NFL-style challenge system, which IMO is just about the worst possible way to go about things if your goal is to get as many calls correct as possible.

#22 snepp

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 05:22 PM

C) Agree with Chief 108%.

#23 cmathewson

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 05:25 PM

A) I get your point, but in fact the strike zone is three dimensional, not two.


Yeah, I thought that the minute I posted it. It's my main problem with Pitch F/X, which represents the strike zone in two dimensions. That's particularly problematic for breaking balls, which can catch the front corners of the plate and be caught behind the batters' box.

I like the Fox Trax views where they show the strike zone in three dimensions. I don't think it would be that hard to implement a review system using something like Fox Trax.

I agree a booth challenge system would be better than the managers challenging. Something needs to happen. They just get way too many calls wrong.
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#24 ashburyjohn

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 05:48 PM

Its all too easy to imagine a scenario like last night where Swarzak gets screwed out of 1 lousy strike and it leading to a 9 run rally and lost game.


And now and then you'll see a pitcher barking at the umpire as he departs the mound after the 3rd out, three batters and two runs (say) after getting squeezed on a 1-2 pitch that turned into a walk and two more batters reaching base. You can try to reason with the pitcher and say that those were 3 legitimately off-the-plate pitches after the contested one, and then two more baserunners that he could have avoided. But the gist of his hollered comments will be "those two earned runs are on YOU, Blue."

#25 ashburyjohn

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 06:07 PM

speaking of Swarzak, he seemed to be throwing completely different than he used to. I couldn't believe my eyes last night. Throwing with determination, movement all over the place...snapping off pitches. Totally in the zone. It was great to see.


Normally I'm not too interested in trying to gauge mental aspects of a player's game, but as I said during the game last night in this particular case I am open to the notion that we are seeing a much more mature Anthony Swarzak after that cracked rib "horseplay" incident.

#26 Jim H

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 06:32 PM

I think my problem with a lot of the pitch framing thing and some of the stuff that Parker presented, is that we are assuming the technology being used is more accurate than the umpires. As previously pointed out, I don't believe we can assume that is true. The strike zone is 3 dimensional, and there is no way to know if the cameras are optimally placed or even similarly placed from park to park. There are so many ways that the technology can be giving incorrect readings that I doubt we could list them all.

What bothers we some, is that umpires are evaluated by using this technology. What seems to be happpening is that umpires are adjusting their strike zone to the way they are being evaluated. I don't know if they are really calling the strike zone based on the plate and the batter, like they are theorectically supposed to be doing. If they are being evaluated on where the ball is caught, not where it crosses the plate, then indeed pitch framing does become important.

#27 YourHouseIsMyHouse

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 09:39 PM

This may be the reason that some of our pitchers took a liking to Drew Butera. It's much better to get those low strikes called rather than the high ones. I think Mauer has been really good at framing inside strikes in addition to the high ones. Pelfrey's first strikeout in that game is worth a look if anyone can find it. You can see the left side of his graph coated with squares too.

Edited by YourHouseIsMyHouse, 17 April 2013 - 09:44 PM.


#28 Paul

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 10:07 PM

It's just a matter of time before balls and strikes are established by sensors at the ML level. The technology has been with us for some time now. Sensors are in everyday use in numerous industries. They make automation possible. Light curtains are so reliable they are extensively used for personal safety. I look forward to the time when balls and strikes depend on reality, not the opinion of a 55 yr old man with his human emotion, maybe 20/20 eyesight, and sometimes even an agenda.

#29 LaBombo

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 10:43 PM

Not a Zoolander fan? Is that reference too dated? Am I getting that old?

Don't ask questions. Just give in to the power of the tea.

#30 PseudoSABR

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 12:16 AM

It's just a matter of time before balls and strikes are established by sensors at the ML level. The technology has been with us for some time now. Sensors are in everyday use in numerous industries. They make automation possible. Light curtains are so reliable they are extensively used for personal safety. I look forward to the time when balls and strikes depend on reality, not the opinion of a 55 yr old man with his human emotion, maybe 20/20 eyesight, and sometimes even an agenda.

Robots could probably hit the ball with more power and consistency, but that doesn't make for good sport. I think Baseball, more than any other established sport, will be the most intractable about letting the human element disappear from the judgment and enforcement of its rules.