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Thread: Should Butera start at Catcher?

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    Senior Member Double-A Cap'n Piranha's Avatar
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    Should Butera start at Catcher?

    Before you laugh, consider the following--

    Joe Mauer has started 42 games at catcher. The starting pitchers in those games have pitched an average of less than 5.1 innings, while compiling a 6.53 ERA, a 1.63 WHIP, and given up a homer every 4.2 innings. Meanwhile, they have compiled 5.4 K/9, a 2.0 K/BB ratio, and the team is 17-25 in those games, despite averaging 5 runs a game, a figure that would put us 3rd in all of baseball for runs scored.

    Ryan Doumit has started 33 games at catcher. The starting pitchers in those games have pitched an average of slightly more than 5 innings, while compiling a 6.12 ERA, a 1.59 WHIP, and given up a homer every 5.1 innings. Meanwhile, they have compiled 4.5 K/9, a 1.5 K/BB ratio, and the team is 12-21 in those games, despite averaging 5.5 runs a game, a figure that would put us 1st in all of baseball for runs scored.

    Drew Butera has started 20 games at catcher. The starting pitchers in those games have pitched an average of slightly more than 6 innings, while compiling a 3.34 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP, and given up a homer every 12.1 innings. Meanwhile, they have compiled 8.2 K/9, a 3.0 K/BB ratio, and the team is 11-9 in those games, despite averaging only 4 runs a game, a figure that would put us 24th in all of baseball for runs scored.

    Before you say this is simply an effect of Butera catching Liriano, consider some of the other pitchers on the staff. Scott Diamond, in 2 starts with Butera, has pitched an average of 7 innings, with a 0.00 ERA, a 0.71 WHIP, 6.4 K/9, 10 K/BB, and not given up a homer. With Mauer, it's 8 games, less than 6.1 IP, 4.35 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 5.3 K/9, 3.2 K/BB and a homer every 6.1 innings. With Doumit, it's better than 6.2 IP, 2.63 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 3.6 K/9, 2.2 K/BB, homer ever 27.3 IP.

    With Pavano, Butera's 5 starts have yielded an average of 5.1 IP, 6.15 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, and 4.8 K/9. While all of these numbers are slightly worse than Pavano with Mauer (6.2 IP, 5.93 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 2.6 K/9 in 2 games), and Doumit (5.2 IP, 5.87 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, and 5.9 K/9 in 4 games), the following two numbers are WAY in Butera's favor; 14 K/BB and a homer every 26.1 IP. Those numbers dwarf both Mauer (2 K/BB, homer every 6.2 IP) and Doumit (3 K/BB, homer every 3.2 IP).

    What Butera has done exceptionally well is limit hits and homeruns, which is directly leading to his success as a catcher. Does Liriano's hot run skew these results? Yes. But I think the evidence is compelling enough that its worth running Butera out there 3-4 times a week, and see if this continues. After all, I'm fine giving up 1 to 1.5 runs of offense a game, if it means saving 2-3 runs a game.

  2. #2
    Pixel Monkey MVP Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
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    Drew Butera caught lots of games last season and the Twins were 29th in ERA.

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    Senior Member Double-A Cap'n Piranha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocketpig View Post
    Drew Butera caught lots of games last season and the Twins were 29th in ERA.
    And of course it's unthinkable that Drew Butera might have improved his game from last year, or that Liriano, Diamond, Deduno, Walters, or DeVries (none of whom were either with the Twins last year, or were caught consistently by Butera) might be responding better to him this year.

  4. #4
    This is laughable. I think he's serious too

  5. #5
    Owner MVP Seth Stohs's Avatar
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    No, Butera should not be the starter, but I agree that Butera certainly does a nice job behind the plate.

  6. #6
    Speediest Moderator All-Star snepp's Avatar
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    No.

    And your usage of tiny sample sizes should be criminal.
    "Maybe you could go grab a bat and ballÖ and learn something. Maybe you will get it."
    - Strib commenter educating the elitists on the value of RBI's

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    no way. he's lucky to even be on a major league roster
    formerly known as torii_hunter_mvp on byto.

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    Senior Member All-Star JB_Iowa's Avatar
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    While I don't think that these numbers say anything about making him the #1 catcher, it might be reason to split the games a little more closely between Doumit and Butera. Expecially when there are other ways to keep Doumit's bat in the line-up.

    I also think that might makes sense because Butera is probably a little fresher than either Mauer or Doumit -- and the dog days of summer started really early this year.

  9. #9
    Pixel Monkey MVP Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cap'n Piranha View Post
    And of course it's unthinkable that Drew Butera might have improved his game from last year, or that Liriano, Diamond, Deduno, Walters, or DeVries (none of whom were either with the Twins last year, or were caught consistently by Butera) might be responding better to him this year.
    Catchers don't make pitchers throw harder. They don't make them suddenly command their pitches with more accuracy. They don't make the pitcher get more downward movement on their pitches, causing batters to pound the ball into the turf.

    Give the credit where it's due and that is squarely on the pitchers who are better baseball players this season. Butera is a fine defensive catcher but he's not some kind of magic worker.

    This entire line of thinking really irritates me. Do you honestly think that Butera has a higher baseball IQ than Joe Mauer? Mauer, one of the best pure hitters in the game, is a master of understanding the opposing pitcher, breaking down his game, and waiting for the right pitch. There's a reason he has the highest OBP in the AL. Do you honestly not think that understanding of baseball transitions to his time behind the plate? Hell, I think a significant part of the reason why Mauer is such a good hitter is because he's a catcher.

  10. #10
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    How many threads on the same topic can we have? Unreal. And I agree with the comment above on sample sizes.
    Lighten up Francis....

  11. #11
    Senior Member All-Star SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
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    I have no words for this thread.

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    If you want to go SSS, let's see what Butera's numbers are when he's not catching Liriano... If you want to be intellectually honest, you need a mult-year sample size and should probably compare it by the pitcher, and not by a ridiculously small season sample size.

  13. #13
    Senior Member All-Star JB_Iowa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocketpig View Post
    This entire line of thinking really irritates me. Do you honestly think that Butera has a higher baseball IQ than Joe Mauer? Mauer, one of the best pure hitters in the game, is a master of understanding the opposing pitcher, breaking down his game, and waiting for the right pitch. There's a reason he has the highest OBP in the AL. Do you honestly not think that understanding of baseball transitions to his time behind the plate? Hell, I think a significant part of the reason why Mauer is such a good hitter is because he's a catcher.

    I have no idea if Butera has made Frankie better but I do take a little issue with the paragraph above -- NOT the premise about Mauer having a higher baseball IQ. I'm sure he does and I'm sure he takes that behind the plate and I'm sure that he takes what he has learned as a catcher to the plate with him.

    But human nature being what it is, I do think that some pitchers probably work better with some catchers. Just as I'm sure most of us have had colleagues (whether at work, in school or in volunteer activities) with whom we "mesh" better.

    We've heard it said (on TV at least and sometimes in the press), that one of Liriano's problems is that he "overthinks" at times. Maybe Butera is just better than Mauer or Doumit at keeping it simple for Liriano.

    It isn't a knock on any of the three. It's just an acknowledgment that baseball players are human -- and that there may be some people with whom they work better than others.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Double-A Cap'n Piranha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocketpig View Post
    Catchers don't make pitchers throw harder. They don't make them suddenly command their pitches with more accuracy. They don't make the pitcher get more downward movement on their pitches, causing batters to pound the ball into the turf.

    Give the credit where it's due and that is squarely on the pitchers who are better pitchers this season. Butera is a fine defensive catcher but he's not some kind of magic worker.

    This entire line of thinking really irritates me. Do you honestly think that Butera has a higher baseball IQ than Joe Mauer? Mauer, one of the best pure hitters in the game, is a master of understanding the opposing pitcher, breaking down his game, and waiting for the right pitch. There's a reason he has the highest OBP in the AL. Do you honestly not think that understanding of baseball transitions to his time behind the plate? Hell, I think part of the reason why Mauer is such a good player is because he's a catcher.
    So in otherwards, all credit goes exclusively to the pitcher? A catcher running out to the mound, or a pitching coach noticing something in his mechanics makes no difference to the pitcher? If so, Rick Anderson shoudl go to jail for stealing from the Twins organization for years.

    I'm also not debating the relative baseball IQ's of Mauer and Butera, simply pointing out a group of numbers, in almost every meaningful way, indicates over a short time-frame that the Twins starting pitching is much better with Butera behind the plate calling the game than Mauer, almost laughably so. At what point does this stop being coincidence, and start being causation? And in an undeniably lost season for this organization, doesn't it behoove them to find out? Perhaps Butera simply relates better to our current staff. As an example, no one would deny that Mike Martz is an offensive genius when it comes to the NFL. However, his inabalitiy to work with others led directly to him being largely a failure during his career.

    I should also mention I'm not advocating for Butera to start 6 times a week, just wondering if maybe it's worth finding out if this success is sustainable long-term. In the scope of only the 2012 season, how exactly does it hurt the organization to do this experiment? Worst case scenario, Butera can't continue this level of success with the staff, the line-up produces a few less runs, and we lose 90 games and finish 4th or 5th in the Central (which might actually be the best long-term scenario, as it could improve our draft standing for 2013). Best case scenario, the staff continue to excel with Butera behind the plate, the Twins sneak past the 70 win mark, and Justin Morneau and his 14m salary become that much more expendable (since Doumit and Mauer would now be splitting 1B and DH duties), freeing up money to sign starting pitching FA's in the offseason.

    Again, what is the downside here, other than having to watch Butera bat an extra 5-10 times a week? Although that is certainly excruciating, isn't it worth it to find out if the numbers I posted above are small-sample-size fluke, or emerging trend?

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    Pixel Monkey MVP Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
    I have no idea if Butera has made Frankie better but I do take a little issue with the paragraph above -- NOT the premise about Mauer having a higher baseball IQ. I'm sure he does and I'm sure he takes that behind the plate and I'm sure that he takes what he has learned as a catcher to the plate with him.

    But human nature being what it is, I do think that some pitchers probably work better with some catchers. Just as I'm sure most of us have had colleagues (whether at work, in school or in volunteer activities) with whom we "mesh" better.

    We've heard it said (on TV at least and sometimes in the press), that one of Liriano's problems is that he "overthinks" at times. Maybe Butera is just better than Mauer or Doumit at keeping it simple for Liriano.

    It isn't a knock on any of the three. It's just an acknowledgment that baseball players are human -- and that there may be some people with whom they work better than others.
    I'm not a fan of personal catchers. I'll get that out of the way immediately.

    With that said, I'm sure some guys like working with some catchers more than others. But if Butera and Francisco were such great partners, why were both so awful last season? Why did Liriano have his best season with Mauer behind the dish most of the time?

    I'm not saying it's impossible that some catchers can make certain pitchers slightly better. But there's no reason to think that's the case here. Liriano is pitching better because he's a better pitcher this season. He's throwing harder, has better control, and throws his devastating slider more often.

  16. #16
    I certainly like the use of numbers to back up a take....well done....but numbers work better over a longer sample size. If the Drew-toids want to impress me/others, have him catch Blackburn & turn him into a serviceable pitcher.....cant be done

  17. #17
    Pixel Monkey MVP Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cap'n Piranha View Post
    So in otherwards, all credit goes exclusively to the pitcher? A catcher running out to the mound, or a pitching coach noticing something in his mechanics makes no difference to the pitcher? If so, Rick Anderson shoudl go to jail for stealing from the Twins organization for years.

    I'm also not debating the relative baseball IQ's of Mauer and Butera, simply pointing out a group of numbers, in almost every meaningful way, indicates over a short time-frame that the Twins starting pitching is much better with Butera behind the plate calling the game than Mauer, almost laughably so. At what point does this stop being coincidence, and start being causation? And in an undeniably lost season for this organization, doesn't it behoove them to find out? Perhaps Butera simply relates better to our current staff. As an example, no one would deny that Mike Martz is an offensive genius when it comes to the NFL. However, his inabalitiy to work with others led directly to him being largely a failure during his career.

    I should also mention I'm not advocating for Butera to start 6 times a week, just wondering if maybe it's worth finding out if this success is sustainable long-term. In the scope of only the 2012 season, how exactly does it hurt the organization to do this experiment? Worst case scenario, Butera can't continue this level of success with the staff, the line-up produces a few less runs, and we lose 90 games and finish 4th or 5th in the Central (which might actually be the best long-term scenario, as it could improve our draft standing for 2013). Best case scenario, the staff continue to excel with Butera behind the plate, the Twins sneak past the 70 win mark, and Justin Morneau and his 14m salary become that much more expendable (since Doumit and Mauer would now be splitting 1B and DH duties), freeing up money to sign starting pitching FA's in the offseason.

    Again, what is the downside here, other than having to watch Butera bat an extra 5-10 times a week? Although that is certainly excruciating, isn't it worth it to find out if the numbers I posted above are small-sample-size fluke, or emerging trend?
    No, it's not worth finding out. Butera has been part of this team off-and-on for three seasons now. Liriano throws harder and has more success. He throws more strikes and has more success.

    What does Rick Anderson have to do with this? Did he help Liriano? Possibly, but it was Francisco Liriano who is out there throwing harder and throwing more stirkes. Unless Butera is using his off-days to study film of Francisco's mechanics and working out the kinks, your comparison is laughable.

    In the Defense of Drew thread, Dave posted a slew of statistics that point out how Butera has not been any better as a catcher than Mauer or Rivera over the past few seasons. You're completely ignoring multiple years of statistics in favor of using a SSS to make Drew look good. If a guy primarily catches the best pitcher on the team and no one else, of course he's going to look better in the short-term. Unless you look at previous years' statistics, of course...

  18. #18
    Senior Member Double-A Cap'n Piranha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
    If you want to go SSS, let's see what Butera's numbers are when he's not catching Liriano... If you want to be intellectually honest, you need a mult-year sample size and should probably compare it by the pitcher, and not by a ridiculously small season sample size.
    Ask and you shall receive. Butera's numbers without Liriano.

    10 games, 58 IP (average of better than 5.2 IP/start), 3.88 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 5.3 K/9, 3.8 K/BB, 1 homer every 8.1 innings, and the Twins have a 6-4 record in those games. In other words, even without good Frankie, Butera gets pitchers deeper in the game, with an ERA more than 2 runs below Mauer and Doumit, while allowing almost .4 fewer baserunners per inning, a K/9 rate similar to Mauer but better than Doumit, a K/BB ratio almost double Mauer's, and almost quadruple Doumit's, and about half the homeruns.

    Again, I mentioned in my opening post, and all since, that I am aware this is a small sample size, but at some point, every thing is. My question with this thread was to ask two simple questions; when does this SSS stop being a SSS, and why is it not worth determining the answer to that question?

  19. #19
    Pixel Monkey MVP Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cap'n Piranha View Post
    Again, I mentioned in my opening post, and all since, that I am aware this is a small sample size, but at some point, every thing is. My question with this thread was to ask two simple questions; when does this SSS stop being a SSS, and why is it not worth determining the answer to that question?
    It's not worth determining because Drew Butera is an awful hitter and because we have multiple years of statistical evidence that directly conflict your incredibly SSS.

    More Data That Says Drew Has Little/No Impact>>>>>>>>>Less Data That Says Drew Has Ridiculous 2+ ERA Impact Unheard Of In History Of Major League Baseball

  20. #20
    Speediest Moderator All-Star snepp's Avatar
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    My head hurts.
    "Maybe you could go grab a bat and ballÖ and learn something. Maybe you will get it."
    - Strib commenter educating the elitists on the value of RBI's

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