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Article: Is Ryan Doumit's Catching A Critical Liability?

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#31 Riverbrian

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 04:07 PM

Another thing to add from an umpire perspective. When I can see a glove... The Movement of a glove in an attempt to frame after the catch could be seen by the ump as the catcher believing that it was a ball.

If the pitch is a strike. A good Catcher will catch and hold it in position. If it's a ball... They will attempt to frame by moving it. If the Ump has any doubt. The actual framing movement from the catcher is a tip that it was a ball.

#32 Riverbrian

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 04:13 PM



B. I haven't read all of it and it looks like it will take awhile to get through it all but I'm wondering how a called strike can be quantified into Runs. The Difference between a 2-0 count and a 1-1 count is important but how do you quantify the rest of the at bat and the result based upon one strike or ball.


I think this is an article about counts and impact on runs

http://www.beyondthe...re-a-nibble-the


Thanks Jorganswest... I will read through it when I get some time. I'm definitely curious but it does look to be a little time consuming to comb thru it unless I just take it at face value.

No matter my first blush opinion... Keep posting this stuff... It is very interesting. The Game has changed so much over the decades and metrics are at the forefront of that change.

#33 YourHouseIsMyHouse

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 04:20 PM

I had an opinion going in and now have a different one after reading. That alone makes it a good article for me. I never considered this and want to see him DH and play RF a little more.

#34 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 04:22 PM

It appears that many would join the Twins in discounting this study.


Because when you claim outlandish things, people tend to treat them outlandishly. The underlying point has merit; good catchers positively impact a pitching staff.

But when you come at us with "a good catcher is worth nearly one run a game compared to the worst", you're going to get laughed out of the room. And for good reason. It's an absurd statement.

#35 JB_Iowa

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 04:36 PM

Well, half the stuff on this site is absurd so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

But I do thank the OP for the post -- at least it is thought provoking. And while the impact may not be as significant as jorgenswest would suggest, it certainly appears that there is enough "smoke" to merit further examination.

I also found the "head bobbing" part of the original article very interesting. It took me back to discussions we had earlier this year about mechanized ball/strike counts and umpire bias. As I recall, that discussion had to do with the strike count and how it affected the umpires zone. And now it looks like its not just the strike count but the stability of the catcher. Funny to think about how many little factors can affect the call -- and how much an "automated" system would change that. (And possibly change the game as we know it.)

#36 jorgenswest

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 04:47 PM

It appears that many would join the Twins in discounting this study.


Because when you claim outlandish things, people tend to treat them outlandishly. The underlying point has merit; good catchers positively impact a pitching staff.

But when you come at us with "a good catcher is worth nearly one run a game compared to the worst", you're going to get laughed out of the room. And for good reason. It's an absurd statement.


Would you want the Twins management and share your attitude?

My hope us that the study (not mine) will lead them to go through the data. They can take the same approach. They have the capability to look at every pitch that Doumit, Butera and Mauer received with pitch f/x.

I hope they did that before signing Doumit and extending him.

All of the new game data available in the last several years will lead to new understanding of the impact of defense on winning baseball games. My hope is that the Twins are not behind the curve.

#37 Willihammer

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 04:49 PM

Interesting. This from the first BP article is encouraging:

Doumit dropped his head on 11 of the 12 pitches I reviewed on video. On the one pitch where he did not do that, he got a strike call. Molina dropped his head to follow the ball into the glove on two of the 10 pitches I reviewed on video, and both of those pitches were called balls.
Lucroy’s head was stable on all seven pitches I reviewed, and he got seven strike calls. Varitek’s head was stable on all six pitches I reviewed, all called balls, but his exaggerated glove movement may have cost him those strike calls.


It would seem there are some simple things Doumit could do to improve.

#38 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 05:08 PM

[quote name='jorgenswest'][quote name='Brock Beauchamp'][quote name='jorgenswest']It appears that many would join the Twins in discounting this study. [/QUOTE]

Because when you claim outlandish things, people tend to treat them outlandishly. The underlying point has merit; good catchers positively impact a pitching staff.

But when you come at us with "a good catcher is worth nearly one run a game compared to the worst", you're going to get laughed out of the room. And for good reason. It's an absurd statement.[/QUOTE]

Would you want the Twins management and share your attitude?

My hope us that the study (not mine) will lead them to go through the data. They can take the same approach. They have the capability to look at every pitch that Doumit, Butera and Mauer received with pitch f/x.

I hope they did that before signing Doumit and extending him.

All of the new game data available in the last several years will lead to new understanding of the impact of defense on winning baseball games. My hope is that the Twins are not behind the curve.[/QUOTE]

As do I; the Twins should be using every ounce of data available to them to make an assessment on a player.

The overarching point has merit; the interpretation of that particular data does not. There is simply no way that a good catcher is worth 20% (or, in the case of the Rays, considerably more than 20%) of a team's allowed runs. To even the most casual observer, the metric is horribly flawed... Even the creator of said metric says that it is basically useless at this point.

It's not as if the Twins are extraordinarily high on Doumit. Ryan has said that he hopes to see Mauer behind the plate more often in 2013. That doesn't devalue Doumit in any way. He's a poor catcher; nearly everyone admits that. But the point of a backup catcher is not to catch 50 or 60 or 70 games and that's where Doumit shines. He's a backup catcher who should be catching 40 times a year at most so the amount of damage he can do behind the dish is limited. But by having a backup catcher that can OPS at .800, you also have a guy that can pinch hit, play DH, and occasionally even man the outfield (though poorly). The flexibility he offers from a position that is usually a blackhole is outstanding.

And nearly every team in MLB, especially AL teams, would love that kind of flexibility.

#39 mike wants wins

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 05:13 PM

Brock, what if it is 10 runs a year? Or 20, instead of 50?

And Seth doesn't believe it because he "knows" Butera is good on defense, even though there is zero statistical evidence to back that up. None. His catcher ERA is high, his framing rate is low, what does he actually do well?

People used to "know" the earth was flat, and that the sun revolved around the earth too....until we started using science and numbers to figure things out. Were those early attempts precise? No. Did they lead us to the truth, yes, yes they did.

#40 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 05:26 PM

Brock, what if it is 10 runs a year? Or 20, instead of 50?

And Seth doesn't believe it because he "knows" Butera is good on defense, even though there is zero statistical evidence to back that up. None. His catcher ERA is high, his framing rate is low, what does he actually do well?

People used to "know" the earth was flat, and that the sun revolved around the earth too....until we started using science and numbers to figure things out. Were those early attempts precise? No. Did they lead us to the truth, yes, yes they did.


Science was used to systematically prove the Earth was round. The evidence was undeniable.

As opposed to this metric, which even the creator says is terribly flawed and should not be used as an evaluative tool.

71 runs in half a season. Over a 162 game season, we're talking about a catcher that frames pitches being worth ~145 runs. The Tampa Bay Rays allowed 577 runs in 2012. Once you factor in defense, what's a pitcher worth at that point? 60%? 50%? Lower? There's no way you can tell me with a straight face that the guy who actually stands on the mound and throws the ball is worth somewhere around half of a team's runs. If that was the case, pitchers wouldn't be the most in-demand object of lust in baseball.

Again, the idea behind this metric is legitimate. But its actual implementation is completely absurd.

PS. I hate Drew Butera. I never wanted him on the roster and think he's a complete waste as a baseball player. I don't care what the stats say about him either way.

#41 jorgenswest

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 06:24 PM

Interesting. This from the first BP article is encouraging:

Doumit dropped his head on 11 of the 12 pitches I reviewed on video. On the one pitch where he did not do that, he got a strike call. Molina dropped his head to follow the ball into the glove on two of the 10 pitches I reviewed on video, and both of those pitches were called balls.
Lucroy’s head was stable on all seven pitches I reviewed, and he got seven strike calls. Varitek’s head was stable on all six pitches I reviewed, all called balls, but his exaggerated glove movement may have cost him those strike calls.


It would seem there are some simple things Doumit could do to improve.


Most sensible comment in the discussion.

If it is a skill, it can be improved. The Twins have access to all of the video and corresponding data. It probably is available sorted by call, pitch type, location...

Do it for all of the catchers.

If the Twins do the leg work on this, there is no reason it can't improve as long as there is awareness.

#42 Jim H

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 06:30 PM

Where a catcher catches the ball doesn't tell where/if the ball crosses the plate. The idea that how a catcher catches the ball has much of an infuence on the umpire's call is pretty weak. The umpire is focused on where/if the ball crosses the plate, not where it is caught. Can a catcher steal a strike once in awhile- I am sure it happens. Can you take what is a minor skill by a catcher, and elevate to the point that it saves 50 runs in less than half the games by the back up catcher?


That is the problem with this "metric". It is not remotely believable and takes away from what should be the central argument, the value of a good defensive catcher. There is no doubt that Molina is a good defensive catcher. He calls good games, works well with his pitchers, throws out runners, probably has a good relationship with most umps and probably is good at number of other things including "framing a pitch".

But by doing a sloppy job of constructing this "metric" it obscures what should be the central point. It also shows why most fans should be a lot sceptical of most new metrics.

#43 greengoblinrulz

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 06:42 PM

I am absolutely a defensive metrics guy but dont know how to precisely rate a C.
Its awkwardly funny to watch a game & hear an announcer talk about how good a defensive player is but ALL the metrics show otherwise....or vice versa.
These are new stats & this early into them....either you believe them or you dont.
Many that dont believe fail to understand that defense waivers from a player year to year just like a hitters numbers for many variables.
I believe there is something to this, but not 100% sure of how to decifer the numbers myself.

#44 old nurse

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 06:58 PM

[]

Most sensible comment in the discussion.

.


I do not see anyone disagreeing with the concept of Doumit needing to be a better catcher. The criticism of the metric is very sensible. When the creator of the metric says it is flawed to use the data to make your case is not a good arguement.

#45 Wookiee of the Year

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 07:19 PM

Between the initial article and the resulting discussion, fascinating stuff. I tend to agree we should be skeptical of any stat that places so much value on the defensive capabilities of the back-up catcher, let alone one particular skill within those capabilities. Still, I've long written off pitch framing as not a real skill, but this article's making me think twice on that point.

Even if I remain skeptical of this article's findings, I'm still glad to have read it.

#46 John Bonnes

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 08:30 PM

Re: Head-bobbing. I'll say this: the immediate body language of people around a close call absolutely can affect the perception of that call. I could believe that it would have a significant influence on an umpire.

I'll relate it to something that parents of young children can relate. When your kids falls - just gets a bump, or a scrape, or tumbles down a couple of stairs or whatever - the worst thing you can do is immediately react as if they could be seriously hurt, like running over to ask if they're ok. The second you react that way, they are hurt. Bawling, OMG-this-world-is-terrifying, hold-me-NOW, hurt. They are reading you, your immediate reaction, and if it's alarm, they're alarmed.

Instead, you learn to NOT react, like keep walking, glance over and say "Whoa! Good one! You shaking that off, sport?!?" Once you master that, your kid becomes infinitely tougher.

This is not to imply that umpires are children, but the same thing applies. We look for immediate validation one way or the other, even if what we're judging is if we are in severe pain or not.

#47 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 09:01 PM

Can you take what is a minor skill by a catcher, and elevate to the point that it saves 50 runs in less than half the games by the back up catcher?


Only if the catcher is a Yankee...

#48 Kobs

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 11:20 PM

People used to "know" the earth was flat, and that the sun revolved around the earth too....until we started using science and numbers to figure things out. Were those early attempts precise? No. Did they lead us to the truth, yes, yes they did.


In what way is this science?

#49 mike wants wins

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 08:33 AM

He has a hypothesis. He then used observation to test the hypothesis. He used math to develop a theory and reach a conclusion. It is the definition of science. Does not mean his conclusion is correct, most theories are incorrect, but even that brings us closer to understanding.

#50 Kobs

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:10 AM

He has a hypothesis. He then used observation to test the hypothesis. He used math to develop a theory and reach a conclusion. It is the definition of science. Does not mean his conclusion is correct, most theories are incorrect, but even that brings us closer to understanding.


I fail to see any tests being conducted on this. I see a bunch of statistical masturbation.

#51 Jim H

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:28 AM

Re: Head-bobbing. I'll say this: the immediate body language of people around a close call absolutely can affect the perception of that call. I could believe that it would have a significant influence on an umpire

.

I suppose this is possible. It is also possible/likely that the umpire has decided what to call before the reaction sets in. You do bring up something that hasn't really been discussed on this thread. There are 4 people involved in any strike/ball call. The pitcher, catcher, batter and umpire. If we use for example a pitch on the black(as Bert might say) trying to determine what actually inflluenced the umpire to make the "wrong" call is pretty difficult to determine.

First you have to determine if it actually was the wrong call. Pitch f/x might not be right because of camera angles and the depth of the plate. If the pitcher has consistently hit the "corner" of the plate throughout the game, maybe the umpire gives him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe if the batter leans away from what he thinks is going to be an inside pitch, that could influence the call. Maybe the ump misses the call because he just didn't see it clearly. Maybe count influences the ump as John referenced earlier. There do seem to be umps that don't like to call a batter out on an extremely close pitch. And finally maybe framing could influence the ump.

The problem is assigning a possibility like framing to every close pitch that is "missed" by the umpire doesn't seem like very good "science". It clearly misses all the possible interplays between all of the participants in the umps dicision.

#52 mike wants wins

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:44 AM

Jim, it does not miss other possibilities, but you have certainly offered other good ones, and are offering several tests that could be done to the data. That is how these things should work. Scientific inquiry and rebuttal at its best, if someone does the tests.

#53 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 10:09 AM

Jim, it does not miss other possibilities, but you have certainly offered other good ones, and are offering several tests that could be done to the data. That is how these things should work. Scientific inquiry and rebuttal at its best, if someone does the tests.


It would require years of data to work. Like UZR (which I have defended to an extent in other threads), this "framing" stat deals with far too many variables to be used on even a single season's worth of data, I suspect. As Jim mentioned, we're talking about four different inputs into each call (batter, catcher, pitcher, ump). Multiply those four variables by, say, 400 pitchers, 80 catchers, several thousand batters, and ~150 umpires and you're looking at a massive amount of variables on each pitch. On top of that, the fact that framing is assumed to be worth roughly 1/10th of a run is very much up for debate and the statistical influence on that is nebulous at best. To get enough information to reach a qualified conclusion, we'll need millions of data points on those four inputs to make something like this work (assuming the other variables are correct, which we cannot at this point). While it's *technically* science, at this point it's pretty bad science. Far too incomplete to be used to quantify anything at this point.

In five years, we might have enough data to start really breaking down catcher framing. And if we do, I have the feeling that the numbers we'll see will be much different and much smaller.

#54 mike wants wins

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 10:18 AM

I agree the numbers will be much smaller, but since I have not spent the time on this the author has, that's just a guess. I also agree we need a ton more data for the confidence level to increase. None of that means the exercise is a bad one, or proves he is wrong.

#55 Rosterman

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 10:35 AM

You got a different home plate umpire for every game during a series. They all calculate THEIR strikezone, a lot of times watching the pitcher throw...or do they actually review tape themselves to have an idea of if a pitcher pays the corners or not, throws high, low, etc. Then you have the pitcher. They can be all over the place. Some take a batter, some take an inning, some take the whole game to be consistent with their stuff. Then you have the catcher. Are they calling the game plan, is the manager/coach calling the shots, is the pitcher calling the shots. Another question is how often a catcher IS in the spot where the pitch is thrown...are they outside when it comes insides, etc. etc. It's fun watching sometimes when the catcher leans like two feet outside to catch a pitch. Then we have the batter. What bout the guy who swings at everything (Carlos Gomez, Delmon Young for example) Sometimes they hit it. The batter can throw everything off because they are oft unpredictable. They figure out the pitcher. They don't ALWAYS swing the exact same way, just as the pitcher doesn't always throw in the same spots, or the umpire might have a smaller or bigger zone this game, or the catcher has hurt legs or a hangover.

So, in deciding this metric...who costs the most runs...the gameplan (caller), the pitcher (no control), the umpire (doesn't know what they do from game to game) or the catcher (who has a job of framing the plate and catching the ball).
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#56 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 10:48 AM

I agree the numbers will be much smaller, but since I have not spent the time on this the author has, that's just a guess.


It's more than a guess, it's common sense. There is no way that a full season of Jose Molina is worth 25% of Tampa Bay's total runs allowed. If he was, we'd see teams clamoring for the Jose Molinas of the world, not signing them as backup catchers for $1.5m.

I don't even know if a 2004 Barry Bonds was worth 25% of his team's runs and that was the best single-season performance in baseball history.

#57 mike wants wins

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 11:17 AM

Ok, hypothesis...not guess.