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Should Butera start at Catcher?

drew butera francisco liriano joe mauer pitching ryan doumit
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#1 Cap'n Piranha

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 11:36 AM

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 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 11:37 AM

Drew Butera caught lots of games last season and the Twins were 29th in ERA.

#3 Cap'n Piranha

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 11:44 AM

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 alarp33

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 11:47 AM

This is laughable. I think he's serious too

#5 Seth Stohs

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 11:49 AM

No, Butera should not be the starter, but I agree that Butera certainly does a nice job behind the plate.

#6 snepp

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 11:52 AM

No. And your usage of tiny sample sizes should be criminal.

#7 rnw24

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 11:56 AM

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

#8 JB_Iowa

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:02 PM

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 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:07 PM

[quote name='Cap'n Piranha;36789]And of course it's unthinkable that Drew Butera might have improved his game from last year' date=' 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.[/QUOTE']

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 mike wants wins

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:07 PM

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 SpiritofVodkaDave

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:08 PM

I have no words for this thread.

#12 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:12 PM

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 JB_Iowa

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:18 PM

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 Cap'n Piranha

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:20 PM

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?

#15 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:22 PM

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 greengoblinrulz

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:27 PM

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 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:27 PM

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 Cap'n Piranha

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:28 PM

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 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:31 PM

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 snepp

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:35 PM

My head hurts.

#21 70charger

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:36 PM

This whole thread seems like a retread. Start reading here: http://twinsdaily.co...Defense-of-Drew

#22 Cap'n Piranha

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:41 PM

[quote name='rocketpig']No, it's not worth finding out. QUOTE]

Would you care to elaborate on why not? You seem to disregard the possibility that players get better, relationships between players become better, and numbers can improve? What if Frankie has more confidence with Butera behind the plate, so he throws harder? What if Butera has spent hours upon hours breaking Frankie down before and after games, and did find a mechanical hitch, and that discovery fostered this confidence? I'm not saying either of those things are true, I'm just saying they very well could be.

I state it again. This Twins season is going nowhere. Can anyone give me a reason other than "Butera isn't good", or "Butera was bad in the past" as to why this isn't worth looking into. If we went only off of prior years results, Danny Valencia would be starting at 3B, not Trevor Plouffe. Michael Cuddyer would be in right field instead of Josh Willingham in left. At some point, ESPECIALLY if you're just playing out the string, find out which players have gained in value, and which have not.

#23 SpiritofVodkaDave

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:43 PM

The real question we need to ask ourselves is Mauer Overpaid?

#24 snepp

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 12:47 PM

The real question we need to ask ourselves is Mauer Overpaid?


Yes, he isn't even capable of whispering sweet nothings into Frankie's ear.

#25 jorgenswest

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 01:11 PM

Catcher ERA has been studied and debated for several years and is seen as a problematic in measuring catcher performance. Current research using pitch f/x data may lead to better results. If you are interested in this stuff, you can read a comparison of Rays catchers below.

http://theraysway.co...s-ex-machina--2

It would be interesting to see a similar comparison of the three Twin catchers at the end of the season. It could be that Butera has significant value that has gone unmeasured.

#26 CDog

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 01:19 PM

Before you laugh, consider the following--


I didn't laugh before...or after. I did kind of sadly shake my head from side to side in a bit of dazed wonder, though.

#27 Cap'n Piranha

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 01:29 PM

I didn't laugh before...or after. I did kind of sadly shake my head from side to side in a bit of dazed wonder, though.


Any particular reason? Or is this nothing more than an attempt to pad your post count total, for whatever reason?

#28 twinswon1991

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 01:40 PM

Did Gardy start this thread?

#29 CDog

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 01:54 PM

[quote name='Cap'n Piranha;36843]Any particular reason? Or is this nothing more than an attempt to pad your post count total' date=' for whatever reason?[/QUOTE']

As precious as my post count is to me...OK, wait, now I'm laughing because that is pretty funny...but as precious as that is, no, that's not it. It was some of the shakiest "analysis" I've seen (and that's saying something), and THEN the terrible "analysis" got you to the conclusion that Drew Butera should be the most frequent starting catcher on a team that includes Joe Mauer. And Ryan Doumit.

#30 Cap'n Piranha

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 02:04 PM

As precious as my post count is to me...OK, wait, now I'm laughing because that is pretty funny...but as precious as that is, no, that's not it. It was some of the shakiest "analysis" I've seen (and that's saying something), and THEN the terrible "analysis" got you to the conclusion that Drew Butera should be the most frequent starting catcher on a team that includes Joe Mauer. And Ryan Doumit.


Then pray tell me, what part of my analysis was shaky? Do you dispute the numbers I presented? Am I inaccurate in concluding (in the SSS of 2012 I'm using) that the starting pitching has been historically awful with either Mauer or Doumit behind the plate, but playoff-caliber with Butera behind the plate? And did I not state that all I was interested in was expanding the sample size to see if the current disparity of staff performance based on starting catcher would bear out over a large sample size?

Again I ask, since no one seems to have an answer, what is the problem with using the last 67 games of this lost season (we're 11 behind Baltimore and Oakland, who are tied for the second wild card. If even one of them goes 33-34, we would have to go 44 and 23 just to tie them. And that's assuming Toronto, Tampa or Boston don't heat up) to explore this? Especially since the worst case scenario (the staff doesn't maintain these numbers with Butera behind the plate, leading to us losing a ton of games) actually helps us, as we get a better draft pick.

I'll ask one more time--what is a tangible, feasible downside to starting Butera at catcher 3-4 times a week?



Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: drew butera, francisco liriano, joe mauer, pitching, ryan doumit