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Article: Catching Curiosities

jason castro chris gimenez mitch garver ervin santana jose berrios
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#1 Tom Froemming

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 07:45 AM

Twins pitchers have been much more successful this season when Jason Castro has been behind the plate. Are there stats we can point to that prove he’s a far superior game caller/pitcher whisperer than Chris Gimenez? Or are there too many variables that cloud the numbers?One of the fun parts that came from the Twins signing Castro as a free agent over the winter was we had numerous writers take deep dives into the value of catcher framing. Castro has long been considered to be excellent at presenting pitches, and the numbers indicate he’s having another good season.

Castro ranks ninth in the league in framing runs above average, but what about his game calling and ability to manage a pitching staff? Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any good way of quantifying those things.

Twins pitchers have performed significantly better when throwing to Castro than Gimenez. Is that trend likely to continue? That I’m not sure. In terms of framing, Gimenez is no slouch, either. He ranks 31st among the 83 catchers Baseball Prospectus has ranked.

Gimenez also controls the running game well and, at least from the outside looking in, seems to be one of the more fun guys to be around on the team. Plus, he’s provided valuable versatility and has even hit better than Castro this year.

If it sounds like I’m trying to butter him up before I drop the hammer, it’s because that’s exactly what’s happening. I like Gimenez, and think he’s a good backup catcher, but the following numbers don’t put him in a positive light.

Overall team stats
Pitching to Castro: 587.2 IP, 4.13 ERA, .758 OPS against, .286 BABIP
Pitching to Gimenez: 267.9 IP, 6.30 ERA, .882 OPS against, .324 BABIP

Castro: 26 of 65 starts (40%) have come against teams with OPS above league average.
Gimenez: 10 of 31 (32.3%) starts have come against teams with OPS above league average.

Broken down by pitcher (minimum 50 IP total this season)
Ervin Santana
Castro: 96.2 IP, 2.61 ERA, .664 OPS against, .244 BABIP
Gimenez: 33. IP, 5.18 ERA, .745 OPS against, .172 BABIP

Kyle Gibson
Castro: 56.2 IP, 6.19 ERA, .879 OPS against, .323 BABIP
Gimenez: 38.0 IP, 5.92 ERA, .912 OPS against, .342 BABIP

Jose Berrios
Castro: 42.0 IP, 3.00 ERA, .558 OPS against, .254 BABIP
Gimenez: 37.2 IP, 4.06 ERA, .776 OPS against, .297 BABIP

Adalberto Mejia
Castro: 55.2 IP, 4.04 ERA, .754 OPS against, .279 BABIP
Gimenez: 14.2 IP, 4.91 ERA, .915 OPS against, .308 BABIP

Hector Santiago
Castro: 60.0 IP, 4.65 ERA, .715 OPS against, .242 BABIP
Gimenez: 10.1 IP, 11.32 ERA, 1.109 OPS against, .387 BABIP

Phil Hughes
Castro : 28.2 IP, 6.91 ERA, 1.046 OPS against, .388 BABIP
Gimenez: 25.0 IP, 3.96 ERA, .709 OPS against, .263 BABIP

I’m confident in concluding that Castro has been much better at the game calling/pitcher handling aspect than Gimenez this season. I’m less confident saying Gimenez has been downright bad at it.

Santana has thrown by far the most innings for the Twins this season, so his numbers weigh heavily on the team stats. So this could be the case where, for whatever reason, Ervin is much more comfortable pitching to Castro and his splits have skewed the big picture.

There is some debate whether looking at catcher ERA between two guys on the same team is even valuable, but it really doesn’t hold much value when comparing guys on different teams. I’m going to do it anyway. For what it’s worth (maybe nothing) Gimenez has the worst catcher ERA among all players with at least 10 starts behind the plate.

If it sounds like I’m having a hard time drawing conclusions from all this info, it’s because I am. That’s where you come in. Let me know what you think.

Full disclosure: I am a huge Mitch Garver fan, but I see no reason why he can’t coexist on the roster with both Castro and Gimenez (assuming they use a four-man bench). Along with catching, Garver has played some left field and first base down in Rochester. He’s having a fantastic season, but his ability to hit lefties (.996 OPS) would be particularly valuable on the big club. So I see Mitch more as a bench bat who can catch than a threat to take over as the primary backup catcher.

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#2 drock2190

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 07:56 AM

Call up Garner! What are the Twins waiting for?
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#3 mikelink45

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 08:15 AM

I am having trouble with this comparison.  I enjoy it and I am a big catcher stat skeptic, but here are the weaknesses that need some explanation.  Both Santana a good pitcher and Hughes, a bad pitcher, have better BABIP when throwing to Giminez.  That is a telling stat, more than ERA where the bullpen can add to the numbers.  The opposite is true for the other pitchers. but why?  Who were the opponents?  When did Mejia pitch to Giminez - was it before or after his seemingly significant turn around?  I too, want Garver called up, but the real question is who is better between Giminez and Garver?


#4 DocBauer

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 08:32 AM

The problem with statistics is they can be bent to mean many things with different variables, as mikelink just pointed out. I like Giminez as a teammate from all I've heard, he offers some versatility, and is not horrible at the plate either. Still, the numbers offered and Barber's ability offensively, and all the positives we've heard about his defense, I think its about time for his turn. I've said before, I wonder at some point if there will be a team needing catching help and Giminez might be moved. Agreed the team could do well with all 3 on the roster, with Garver sort of taking Vargas's spot. (Though I'm still not sure I'm willing to give up on Vargas just yet).
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#5 jorgenswest

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 08:34 AM

The data used takes a large sample to stabilize when it is a single pitcher. I don't see how to use ERA, slash stats and BABIP in splits with any value. Given their dependence on each other, are they saying anything different?

There might be data that is useful.

I wonder if first strike % is significantly different? How about 0-2 and 1-2 counts? What is called? What is the result? How might Castro sequence a pitcher differently than Gimenez?

What do the varying strike zone maps look like? Do they vary by catcher for the same pitcher?

Strike out rate and walk rate are among the first that stabilize. I don't know if in a split we will have enough data at full season. Once we control by a single pitcher the split sample gets pretty small. Those would be the only two that are easily available to us but it might take a few years of data. Any conclusion would be hindsight by that time.

#6 Oldgoat_MN

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 08:45 AM

I had not thought of Gimenez as a potential trade target, but I suppose it could go that way. One should not get too excited at what the return would be, however, as he would be a 2.5 month rental.

 

The numbers Garver has put up and maintained this year in AAA are very promising. Nonetheless, I suspect that we won't see him until September, if then. Gimenez is one of Falvine's 'guys' and we are seeing some evidence that those players are nearly bulletproof when it comes to a roster position (Belisle, Breslow, Haley).

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#7 Danchat

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 09:49 AM

Call up Garner! What are the Twins waiting for?

You need to spell his name right or else they'll call up some scrub named Garner but not Garver!
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#8 Twodogs

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 09:56 AM

You need to spell his name right or else they'll call up some scrub named Garner but not Garver!


Well if they call up Jennifer Garner then team morale might pick up a little bit?
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#9 rikker49

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 09:58 AM

But...can Garver pitch in a mop up roll????? Maybe he should start throwing BP just in case...until then stick with Gimenez

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#10 Original Whizzinator

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 10:15 AM

You need to spell his name right or else they'll call up some scrub named Garner but not Garver!

And next up for the Twins Jim Rockford
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#11 Seth Stohs

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 10:19 AM

I don't really believe in Catcher ERA as an indicator of much... but I don't think anyone would question that Castro is the better defensive catcher. That's how he got the 3 year, $24+ million contract, and Gimenez signed on a minor league deal. But that stat does little for me. Way too many other variables go into that.

 

That said, I have obviously been a Garver guy since he was my choice for minor league hitter of the year in 2014 in Cedar Rapids. And now his play, offense and defense have improved to the point where he's ready. For me, instead of continuing to call up Vargas, I'd call up Garver as a #3 catcher/1B/DH/PH guy. 

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#12 PDX Twin

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 10:29 AM

 

I am having trouble with this comparison.  I enjoy it and I am a big catcher stat skeptic, but here are the weaknesses that need some explanation.  Both Santana a good pitcher and Hughes, a bad pitcher, have better BABIP when throwing to Giminez.  That is a telling stat, more than ERA where the bullpen can add to the numbers.  The opposite is true for the other pitchers. but why?  Who were the opponents?  When did Mejia pitch to Giminez - was it before or after his seemingly significant turn around?  I too, want Garver called up, but the real question is who is better between Giminez and Garver?

 

I agree that relievers' performance has a big influence on a pitcher's ERA. (Witness Gibson's last two starts.) But it doesn't seem like this would matter so much for catcher's ERA because teams rarely change catchers in the middle of an inning when the reliever comes in. If the reliever gives up a bunch of inherited runs, that's on the same catcher's watch.

It's great to get out of the cellar ... as long as you bring something with you.


#13 drock2190

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 11:00 AM

 

You need to spell his name right or else they'll call up some scrub named Garner but not Garver!

 

That will teach me for waking up and reading that article

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#14 DJSim22

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 11:10 AM

Interesting article, thanks for sharing.

 

I wonder what the line ups are when Gimenez is in.If your backup catcher is in, is it more likely other backups are in?Or am I just accustomed to Gardy's get away day B squads?

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#15 DJSim22

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 11:36 AM

 

 

I don't really believe in Catcher ERA as an indicator of much... but I don't think anyone would question that Castro is the better defensive catcher. That's how he got the 3 year, $24+ million contract, and Gimenez signed on a minor league deal. But that stat does little for me. Way too many other variables go into that.

 

That said, I have obviously been a Garver guy since he was my choice for minor league hitter of the year in 2014 in Cedar Rapids. And now his play, offense and defense have improved to the point where he's ready. For me, instead of continuing to call up Vargas, I'd call up Garver as a #3 catcher/1B/DH/PH guy. 

 

Seth, you'd have Garver as your bench bat right away?Vargas at least gives us a HR threat off the bench.Right or wrong I don't see Garver that way.

 


#16 Seth Stohs

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 11:41 AM

 

Seth, you'd have Garver as your bench bat right away?Vargas at least gives us a HR threat off the bench.Right or wrong I don't see Garver that way.

 

Garver's just a better hitter, takes better at bats, has 12 HR in AAA, lots of doubles... actually has some value defensively... 

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#17 DJSim22

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 11:46 AM

 

Garver's just a better hitter, takes better at bats, has 12 HR in AAA, lots of doubles... actually has some value defensively... 

 

A Garver/Grossman combo could be interesting.I know Grossman can give you a professional at bat in the clutch, if Garver can do the same, they could be a good DH/PH combo. 


#18 Darius

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 11:48 AM

It's too hard to analyze catching numbers and be satisfied, because it's so reliant on uncontrollable forces. A catcher could catch one pitching staff and look statistically great, then another and look terrible.

Framing numbers especially. Pitchers/umpires are not created equal, and could potentially cause large swings in how those numbers look. You're not always comparing an apple to an apple, no matter how you try to level the field.

#19 ahart10

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 02:15 PM

The only reason I wouldn't drop Gimenez is for injury depth. Him being "able" to pitch isn't worth anything other than laughs. Let Garver come up and start the learning curve. Plenty of at bats to go around.

#20 old nurse

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 03:29 PM

 

You need to spell his name right or else they'll call up some scrub named Garner but not Garver!

MadisonBum Garner?




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