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Doumit ranks as worst pitch framer for 2nd straight week

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#1 Willihammer

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 03:13 PM

Doumit records the worst OOZ strike calls -to- Inzone ball calls ratio for second straight week, as measured by baseballprospectus. Luckily he's not catching frequently enough to crack into the Runs leaderboard. Also a test you can do to see if you are good at identifying good frame jobs.

Baseball Prospectus | Overthinking It: This Week in Catcher Framing, 4/26
Baseball Prospectus | Overthinking It: This Week in Catcher Framing, 5/1

#2 IdahoPilgrim

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 03:28 PM

I know pitch framing is now "part of the game" and everybody is doing it, but I guess it still rubs me the wrong way a little. Basically, we're seeing who can best trick the umpire into making an incorrect call - who can cheat most effectively?

In other parts of the game there are people advocating using technology to take the human element, i.e. mistakes, out of umpiring. Maybe we need to talk about that here, and develop a system that can call balls and strikes correctly without relying on human judgment.

#3 snepp

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 08:09 PM

The framing is as much about not "losing" strikes as it as gaining them. From the limited stuff I've read all of the extra glove moment and head bobbing that the "poor" framers do can cause them to lose strikes that a typical catcher would expect to get. It's not just about "tricking/cheating" the umpire.
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#4 Guest_USAFChief_*

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 11:57 PM

"Pitch framing" is pretty much just another overblown sabremetric sidetrack down a deadend sidestreet. It'll be all the rage for a season or two, then cooler heads and common sense will prevail, folks will realize it's much ado about nothing, and it'll be relegated to the dustbin of history.

#5 Oxtung

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 02:15 AM

"Pitch framing" is pretty much just another overblown sabremetric sidetrack down a deadend sidestreet. It'll be all the rage for a season or two, then cooler heads and common sense will prevail, folks will realize it's much ado about nothing, and it'll be relegated to the dustbin of history.


Interesting....I thought common sense would tell us that umpires are humans that make mistakes. As a catcher if you can limit the number of strikes that are called balls and maximize the number of balls that are called strikes then common sense would tell me that you are a good catcher (obviously there are other variables here too).

But I guess that is why we have the old addage:

Common sense isn't very common.

#6 jorgenswest

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 07:46 AM

Isn't pitch framing more like a counting stat than a measure? The data simply counts the number of pitches and tallies one of four things (in zone/called strike, in zone/called ball, out of zone/called strike, out of zone/called ball).

Since it is a counting stat, I don't think it will go away.

I don't think there is any argument that catchers vary in their ability to get called strikes and that the counts show Doumit is consistently at the bottom of the list.

There will be great debate on how much it matters.

This is where the sabrmetric folk jump in and create a metric to measure the impact of getting an extra called strike or missing a strike in the strike zone. These measures will try to turn those events into runs saved or lost. Any new metric deserves great scrutiny. Many of these metrics will end up in the dustbin.

Minimally, I hope the Twins are aware of two things.

- Framing the strike zone is a catching skill.
- Doumit is not very good at it.

How much does it matter? I don't think anyone knows.

#7 Jim H

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 08:36 AM

I think pitch framing is a misnomer. Where the ball is caught often doesn't really indicate very accurately whether a pitch was a ball or strike. I suspect that how a catcher moves, whether he blocks the umpire's vision, and probably a few other factors can effect an umpire's call more than where and how the pitch is caught. Sometimes when a pitch appears to catch the plate for a strike but the catcher has to move a long way to catch it(ex. fastball on inside corner, catcher sitting outside) the umpire appears to miss those calls. I am not sure how you put that sort of thing on the catcher. Clearly some batters seem to get more of the close calls than other batters. I don't know how you blame the catcher for that. Mauer and Doumit seem to be in some sort of rotation that have them catching the same pitchers most of the time. Are you sure that Mauer just isn't catching the ones with better control, who are perhaps getting the benefit of the doubt on close pitchers from the umpires?

I am inclined to agree with Chief here. It looks to me that sabre stat people are trying to measure something that probably isn't really very measurable. Even if it is, I am not sure the tools are there to measure it accurately. It is also very possible they are looking are certain results and assigning the wrong cause to it. More than likely, there are multiple causes since we are dealing with people here.

There is actually nothing wrong with the sabre people studying pitch framing, I just think it is pretty premature to call certain catchers "bad" catchers based on these studies.

#8 mike wants wins

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 10:58 AM

Is it real? If so, shouldn't teams try to measure it? Some people, who spend a lot of times on computers, just seem to have something against increasing knowledge and using science and math. It is truly bizarre to me.
Lighten up Francis....

#9 jorgenswest

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 11:02 AM

I think pitch framing is a misnomer. Where the ball is caught often doesn't really indicate very accurately whether a pitch was a ball or strike. I suspect that how a catcher moves, whether he blocks the umpire's vision, and probably a few other factors can effect an umpire's call more than where and how the pitch is caught. Sometimes when a pitch appears to catch the plate for a strike but the catcher has to move a long way to catch it(ex. fastball on inside corner, catcher sitting outside) the umpire appears to miss those calls. I am not sure how you put that sort of thing on the catcher. Clearly some batters seem to get more of the close calls than other batters. I don't know how you blame the catcher for that. Mauer and Doumit seem to be in some sort of rotation that have them catching the same pitchers most of the time. Are you sure that Mauer just isn't catching the ones with better control, who are perhaps getting the benefit of the doubt on close pitchers from the umpires?

I am inclined to agree with Chief here. It looks to me that sabre stat people are trying to measure something that probably isn't really very measurable. Even if it is, I am not sure the tools are there to measure it accurately. It is also very possible they are looking are certain results and assigning the wrong cause to it. More than likely, there are multiple causes since we are dealing with people here.

There is actually nothing wrong with the sabre people studying pitch framing, I just think it is pretty premature to call certain catchers "bad" catchers based on these studies.


There are several years of data from the pitch/fx system. Mike Fast, hired last summer by the Astros, published the first study looking at a period of 5 years of data following the 2011 season. Looking season to season, the data correlates for catchers well. The same catchers in spite of changing teams or leagues continue to do very well or very poorly.

I think it is accurate to state that while Doumit has been catching since 2007, the ratio of called strikes from pitches thrown in the zone is lower than any other catcher in baseball. This data correlates well from one season to the next. It is easy to project which catchers will do well or poorly based on the previous year's performance.

Does it make Doumit a bad catcher? That is for teams to decide. At least one team doesn't think it matters.

I would think it matters less if you have a staff of pitchers that miss bats and get swinging strikes. When you don't miss bats, you count on getting called strikes.

#10 Guest_USAFChief_*

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 11:26 AM

Is it real? If so, shouldn't teams try to measure it? Some people, who spend a lot of times on computers, just seem to have something against increasing knowledge and using science and math. It is truly bizarre to me.

If you're referring to me, Mike, I have nothing against "increasing knowledge and using science and math." In fact, I'm much in favor of it. I'm not of the opinion this is "science and math." At least not yet. Putting a number to something doesn't necessarily make it math, or at least not "good" math.

#11 Reginald Maudling's Shin

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 02:45 PM

If you're referring to me, Mike, I have nothing against "increasing knowledge and using science and math." In fact, I'm much in favor of it. I'm not of the opinion this is "science and math." At least not yet. Putting a number to something doesn't necessarily make it math, or at least not "good" math.

Not every stat is a necessarily good or useful stat. If there are too many variables and too much variance within the variables your output isn't going to be worth a darn. Also there seems to me to be a randomness to whether a certain ump on a certain day will call a pitch a ball or a strike. I don't think you can take a bunch of random occurrences and try to formulate a scientific opinion out of the data.
For example, If a certain pitch is an inch off the black, umpire A might call it a strike 60% of the time, and umpire B might call it 40% of the time. How can you make a definitive argument that the catcher had anything to do with the umpire's decision? It seems to me this stat is trying to chase a conclusion without recognizing the limitations in the data.

#12 mike wants wins

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 03:17 PM

Also, there is great value in trying to measure things, and even in being wrong. Being wrong teaches us a lot more definitive things than being right does.
Lighten up Francis....

#13 CRArko

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 03:23 PM

So how's Butera's broken pinkie mending?

#14 ashburyjohn

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 03:36 PM

it'll be relegated to the dustbin of history.


I would not have taken you for a Trotskyite.

#15 cmathewson

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 08:07 PM

The guy catches one game a week. How can he be judged in a skill that requires thousands of pitches to be meaningful when he only catches 140 or so?
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#16 cmathewson

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 08:13 PM

Eduardo Escobar went 0-1 this week. His triple slash is 000/000/000. By the numbers, he's the worst hitter int he majors for the week. That's the level of insanity with using framing as a way of evaluating a back-up catcher.
"If you'da been thinkin' you wouldn't 'a thought that.."

#17 YourHouseIsMyHouse

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 08:28 PM

Eduardo Escobar went 0-1 this week. His triple slash is 000/000/000. By the numbers, he's the worst hitter int he majors for the week. That's the level of insanity with using framing as a way of evaluating a back-up catcher.


I'm sure you could find someone that went 0-2.

#18 YourHouseIsMyHouse

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 08:39 PM

Pitch framing is just part of the defensive game as I see it. Doumit is an awful defender and framer. If he's not producing with the bat (he's not), he's hurting the team. It makes him a bad option at catcher because of the defense. The limited offense he's given so far hurts even more when he's the DH. It's been only a month, but I'm frustrated with how's he's done and the extension is starting to look bad. Let's see if he can dig himself out of the hole he's dug himself.

#19 jorgenswest

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 09:01 PM

The guy catches one game a week. How can he be judged in a skill that requires thousands of pitches to be meaningful when he only catches 140 or so?


The data goes back to 2007. He was at the bottom of rankings when the Twins signed him. That status hasn't changed.

#20 Reginald Maudling's Shin

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 01:16 AM

The data goes back to 2007. He was at the bottom of rankings when the Twins signed him. That status hasn't changed.

But, they are giving updates by the week! That's crazy. I thought UZR was stupid because you need 3 years of data to formulate an opinion. Then people still extrapolate ridiculously small sample sizes out if it. This is orders of magnitude worse. I heard a good line from a statistician that seems appropriate here: if you want, you can torture the data until it tells you what you want it to say.

#21 jorgenswest

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 07:32 AM

But, they are giving updates by the week! That's crazy. I thought UZR was stupid because you need 3 years of data to formulate an opinion. Then people still extrapolate ridiculously small sample sizes out if it. This is orders of magnitude worse. I heard a good line from a statistician that seems appropriate here: if you want, you can torture the data until it tells you what you want it to say.


i think we get updates by the at bat on a lot of other data. It isn't OK to get weekly updates on this data?

In any case, this isn't UZR. It appears much more stable than many other commonly used measures and stats. The top and the bottom ranked catchers entering 2012, were the top and bottom ranked catcher in 2012 in spite of changing teams. How many other stats or measures have similar reliability? It does have the benefit of a very large sample compared to batting stats or UZR. While an outfielder may only see a handful of balls in their zone during a game, a catcher is going to receive many pitches.

#22 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 07:58 AM

While an outfielder may only see a handful of balls in their zone during a game, a catcher is going to receive many pitches.


But only a few of them will be borderline strike/ball calls to the point where a catcher can try to influence the umpire's call.

On top of that, in the case of Doumit, we're often talking about a single game of data. That means he catches exclusively for one umpire, whose zone could be anything from the inside half of the plate to the entire batter's box.

To pile on another variable, a single game of data means that anywhere from 1/2 to 2/3rds of Doumit's data comes from a single pitcher, one whose control may be off (or spot on) that day and influences the umpire's zone heavily by it.

I'm intrigued by pitch framing. I think the concept has merit. But to use one week's data for a part time player is bad statistical analysis, the same way using two weeks of UZR/150 is bad statistical analysis.

#23 jorgenswest

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 08:09 AM

What one week set of data would be useful in baseball?

In any case, I think the data cmathewson referred to is a running total for the year (not the numbers for the week) just like any of the other number we see attributed to a player for 2013.

As for Doumit, if it were an aberrant one week there would be nothing to write about. His data is consistent from 2007.

#24 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 08:26 AM

As for Doumit, if it were an aberrant one week there would be nothing to write about. His data is consistent from 2007.


It doesn't matter. Partial data is still partial data.

It reminds me of a paper I was reading a few weeks ago about the average lifespan of a man in Victorian England. The point the author was trying to make was that given the "perfect storm" of Victorian living (some medicine, no tobacco, clean air), that our lifespans had only marginally increased once you compensated for infant mortality. The author spent several pages trying to inject bad statistical analysis over good data (excepting infant mortality in Victorian times but not today, using a death chart based on age 65 expectancy for Victorian people and a death chart from birth in modern times, etc) and by the end, I stopped reading the paper because it was so obvious that the author was doing everything he could to prove his point instead of letting the data fall as it may, which still proved his point. He wasn't wrong and he had a convincing argument. But in his attempt to twist the data to better suit his argument, he only deterred me from reading further into the paper and left me feeling disgusted at his blatant attempts to "rig the game" when he already had it won.

The point? There are five years of data showing that Doumit is bad at pitch framing. You're only diluting the point by hammering away at it on a weekly basis and giving people a reason to ignore the wealth of real data on the subject.

#25 jorgenswest

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 09:01 AM

Point taken.

#26 Reginald Maudling's Shin

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 02:28 PM

What one week set of data would be useful in baseball?

In any case, I think the data cmathewson referred to is a running total for the year (not the numbers for the week) just like any of the other number we see attributed to a player for 2013.

As for Doumit, if it were an aberrant one week there would be nothing to write about. His data is consistent from 2007.

If a guy is knocking the cover off the ball over a week I think that's a relevant stat if you're an opposing pitcher.

But again, does it really take 6 years of data to tell us Doumit isn't a good defensive catcher? I think we already know that. Also if you are trying to validate the data, having the guy who's dead last remain dead last isn't necessarily proving a statistical trend.

I don't know what one would do with pitch framing data, other than make your own player aware of the problem. But I don't think ranking players is valuable. I have the same problem with defensive metrics in general, if you need 3 years of data what good is the stat? Why can't you just have your scouts who've watched thousands of games tell you if the guy is a good defensive player or not? Are you going to use UZR on high school age players who play maybe 60 games a year?

#27 Jim H

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 04:16 PM

I will be the first to admit that I think pitch framing is a minor catcher skill. At best "a skilled pitch framer" is very likely to steal a strike no more than once or twice a game, in my opinion. So I am not going to waste my studying data on this. But, if it is true that the same people are at the top and bottom of the list over a 6 year period regardless of the team they play for and changing pitching staffs, I would consider that a huge red flag concerning the validity of this data.

There is no way that pitchers and umpires don't have huge effects on whether borderline pitches are called balls or strikes. If this data consistently gives the same catchers the same positions in the ratings, there is a good chance there is something wrong with how this data is collected. Especially if it is happening from week to week as suggested by the starter of this thread.

I get pretty nervous when effort is made to separate out small parts of a team game and credit or discredit one player. In this case you have a pitcher, a catcher, a batter and ultimately an umpire who makes the call. Trying to figure exactly why an umpire missed a call, assuming he actually missed the call and it wasn't just poor camera angles or some other reason for poorly collected data, is going to be damn hard. Since generally, there aren't really as many "umpire misses" as seem to be suggested here, I doubt that pitch framing has much effect on the game. Still if Doumit is always on the bottom, and the same catcher is always on top, every week the data is collected, you better examine how that data is collected. There is really no way that can happen with that small of a sample.

#28 snepp

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 04:30 PM

The data is collected through pitchf/x, not some schlub watching a game with a lousy camera angle.


I don't see how certain players routinely grading poorly, while others routinely grading well, can be a "red flag." OPS doesn't lose its validity when the same hitters top the leaderboard year after year, with the same hacks bring up the rear. What am I missing here?

Edited by snepp, 05 May 2013 - 04:35 PM.

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#29 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 05:01 PM

The data is collected through pitchf/x, not some schlub watching a game with a lousy camera angle.


I don't see how certain players routinely grading poorly, while others routinely grading well, can be a "red flag." OPS doesn't lose its validity when the same hitters top the leaderboard year after year, with the same hacks bring up the rear. What am I missing here?


Yeah... While I'm very skeptical of framing's overall influence on a game, it's not a "red flag" that Molina, widely regarded to be a top defensive catcher by everyone with a pulse, scores very well in the metric and Doumit, widely regarded to be a pretty poor defensive catcher by those very same people with pulses, scores low.

I'd say that's a pretty convincing argument that pitch framing exists. How much it influences runs per game can still be debated but there is SOMETHING there worth investigating.

When a metric's raw numbers so closely align with reports from scouts, players, and managers, that's a good thing and lends weight to the validity of the numbers, not the other way around.

#30 snepp

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 05:23 PM

How much it influences runs per game can still be debated but there is SOMETHING there worth investigating.


Yeah, how much of that something is there, and if there's enough of it there to be significant, is certainly wide open for scrutiny.
"Maybe you could go grab a bat and ball… and learn something. Maybe you will get it."
- Strib commenter educating the elitists on the value of RBI's