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Catching and pitch framing

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#1 Parker Hageman

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 01:55 PM

This is an excellent segment on MLB's Clubhouse Confidential that examines both the statistical side of the value of pitch framing (with Baseball Prospectus's Ben Lindbergh) and the practice of pitch framing (with former MLB catcher Dave Valle).

Watch this when you get the opportunity.

#2 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 09:12 PM

50 runs. I still have a hard time believing it. Molina only caught 100 games last season. That's half a run a game through framing. More reasonable than some of the numbers we've seen in the past but damn, that's still a huge portion of runs allowed (somewhere around 8% of all of Tampa Bay's runs allowed, despite Molina only catching 60% of their games).

It's a tough stat to swallow and I'm incredibly skeptical that a catcher can have that large an impact through one facet of their game. But I love the fact that people are working so hard on refining the metric.

#3 Willihammer

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 09:17 PM

Interesting stuff.

I remember when I played, just up through high school, pretty often an umpire would come to the benches before games and tell us "go up there ready to swing." If MLB umpires are the same way, then they want to call strikes and move the game along. They don't want to debate balls and strikes with people at the plate. Giving the ump a clear angle and sitting still, as Valle describes, gives him the best opportunity to justify and defend his strike calls, I think.

#4 Thrylos

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 09:44 PM

Interesting stuff but it makes about zero sense :)

This argument misses one single really important reality: When the HP ump is crouched behind the catcher, he just sees the trajectory of the ball and he is totally blocked seeing the catcher's mitt. So he really calls balls and strikes based on events that happen before the ball hits the catcher's mitt. So this whole argument is kinda BS.

Catcher might be framing a pitch for the CF camera, but it is not the CF camera that calls balls and strikes

Edited by Thrylos, 02 February 2013 - 09:48 PM.

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#5 jorgenswest

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:07 PM

Should umpires be paying attention to the pitch f/x data?

How are they made aware individually or as a group where they are missing calls? What work do they do towards improving at their craft?

#6 glunn

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:21 PM

Interesting stuff but it makes about zero sense :)

This argument misses one single really important reality: When the HP ump is crouched behind the catcher, he just sees the trajectory of the ball and he is totally blocked seeing the catcher's mitt. So he really calls balls and strikes based on events that happen before the ball hits the catcher's mitt. So this whole argument is kinda BS.

Catcher might be framing a pitch for the CF camera, but it is not the CF camera that calls balls and strikes


I watched the video, and it made sense to me. Yes, the catcher's mitt blocks the view at the last instant, but the ump is looking over the catcher and can see the mitt and whether it is moving.

#7 glunn

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:24 PM

Here is another tutorial about framing.

#8 Brad Swanson

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:39 PM

If that increase in strikeout rate actually correlates with the pitch framing, then I could see the 50 runs saved.

#9 Willihammer

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:43 PM

If that increase in strikeout rate actually correlates with the pitch framing, then I could see the 50 runs saved.


All the strike 1 and 2 calls in PAs that don't even end up strikeouts too, just getting the pitcher ahead in the count counts for a lot.

#10 Willihammer

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:45 PM

When the HP ump is crouched behind the catcher, he just sees the trajectory of the ball and he is totally blocked seeing the catcher's mitt.


Not if you're a good pitch framer, according to OP.

#11 old nurse

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 01:37 AM

Tampa Bay was the team talked about. The improve total strikeouts could be that Matt More was better at striking out batters than Wade Davis in a starting role. Price, Shields and Hellickson were all just a little better. You could say they are young pitchers getting smarter, better reputation. Wade Davis as a relieve threw the ball harder than he did as a starter thus getting more stikeouts than what replaced in the bullpen,

#12 Willihammer

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 02:48 PM

Watching some baseball this winter. Here's a nice Mauer frame job from last May 27 for Strike 3. Walters pitching

Posted Image

edit: Pitchf/x says this one was 1.211 feet from the center [TABLE="width: 64"]
[TR]
[TD="class: xl65, width: 64, align: right"][/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]

Edited by Willihammer, 03 February 2013 - 03:14 PM.


#13 Willihammer

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 03:09 PM

Here's another one from the 4th inning, same game. 1-0 pitch to Alex Avila for strike 1. According to pitchf/x, this crissed the plate at -1.173 feet from the center of the plate.

Posted Image

Here's the scatterplot for the game. You can see where the two pitches above stick out on either side.
Posted Image

Edited by Willihammer, 03 February 2013 - 03:15 PM.


#14 Willihammer

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 03:38 PM

While I'm at it. One more pretty nice frame for strike 3 in the 5th inning. Batter is Boesch, 2-2 pitch with the bases loaded. It's the 6th pitch of the at-bat, right on the line at .79 feet from center, Mauer gets the call. Walters 6th and final strikeout looking for the game.

Posted Image

#15 Brad Swanson

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 03:55 PM

Tampa Bay was the team talked about. The improve total strikeouts could be that Matt More was better at striking out batters than Wade Davis in a starting role. Price, Shields and Hellickson were all just a little better. You could say they are young pitchers getting smarter, better reputation. Wade Davis as a relieve threw the ball harder than he did as a starter thus getting more stikeouts than what replaced in the bullpen,


Well yes, you could say all that, but you could also say it was the pitch framing. There was statistical evidence and research to support Molina's pitch framing. Just because something seems unlikely, doesn't mean it can't be true. Plus, Willihammer made an excellent point about strike one and strike two.

#16 FrodaddyG

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 04:53 PM

I hope this thread will eventually have a GIF of every pitch from the upcoming season so we can really evaluate the framing of pitches.

#17 BD57

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 05:21 PM

Interesting stuff but it makes about zero sense :)

This argument misses one single really important reality: When the HP ump is crouched behind the catcher, he just sees the trajectory of the ball and he is totally blocked seeing the catcher's mitt. So he really calls balls and strikes based on events that happen before the ball hits the catcher's mitt.


Having umpired games - granted not at a high level .... wrong. Umpires are taught to position themselves where they can see the ball into the glove.

With that said, I'll freely admit that I've often wondered how some of the MLB umpires I've seen can see the low outside pitch - there are umpires who appear to be hiding behind the catcher more than they are getting themselves in position to see the ball all the way in. I can even understand why - take a few foul tips off a 96 mph fastball & "not getting hit" can move up on the priority list.

But here's where I think "framing" is an issue. When the catcher moves, he distracts - sometimes his movement blocks the umpire's vision (one of the concerns about Joe Mauer when he started was how big he was, that he'd often block the umpire's vision). There's another point in there - the less the catcher moves around to catch pitches, the more "command" the pitcher appears to have. Umpires are more likely to call strikes for pitchers who hit their target - even when the target is off the plate.

#18 FrodaddyG

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 05:39 PM

Having umpired games - granted not at a high level .... wrong. Umpires are taught to position themselves where they can see the ball into the glove.

With that said, I'll freely admit that I've often wondered how some of the MLB umpires I've seen can see the low outside pitch - there are umpires who appear to be hiding behind the catcher more than they are getting themselves in position to see the ball all the way in. I can even understand why - take a few foul tips off a 96 mph fastball & "not getting hit" can move up on the priority list.

And by the same token, there's no way to have your field of vision covering the strike zone accurately. I've umpired plenty myself, (ten years of games with players ranging in age from 6 to 40) and you have to position yourself off-center in some degree or the catcher will be obstructing your field of view. It's all a matter of what call you are leaving more to chance. Are you skewing yourself inside or outside and leaving the opposite corner more open to human error? Are you setting up down the middle as much as possible, but higher up (to stay above the catcher blocking your view) and leaving the low strike more missable? It's all a matter of trying to minimize missed calls, but no matter what, even if you're umping a little league game, there's a human body that's going to be between you and the plate, and you have to adjust your field of view around it. Many times it still does come down to reading trajectories, not seeing the ball into the mitt, and making the call based on the best judgement of the umpire, and in the case of pro umps, the tens of thousands of pitches these guys have called for a ball or strike in their careers.

#19 The Wise One

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 06:45 PM

If the number of stikeouts improved with the catcher then why the increase from 1141 strikeouts in 2008to 1260 in 2009 for the Yanks? Molina caught 50 less games in 2009. I am too lazy to bother figuring out how many strikeouts turns into 50 less runs, but it would take a quite a few. Yet with Posada, a bad framing catcher in a different baseball prospectus article back catching, strikeouts went up. go figure

#20 The Wise One

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 11:59 PM

I was hoping that one of the supporters of pitch framing would have answered my question. How many strikeouts does it take to save a run?

#21 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 07:38 AM

I was hoping that one of the supporters of pitch framing would have answered my question. How many strikeouts does it take to save a run?


It's not really about strikeouts (even though the video talks about strikeouts... they would have been better served by ignoring something so heavily influenced by multiple factors, such as "we have a better pitching staff this season"). As another poster pointed out, the Yankees struck out more people in 2012 as well. Pinning (or even implying) that change is due to pitch framing is disingenuous.

Framing leads to a few more strikeouts, yes... But most of its value derives from changing 2-1 counts to 1-2 counts or 1-0 counts to 0-1. This forces the batter into a defensive approach and the pitcher into an aggressive approach where he can use all of his pitches instead of just getting it over.

#22 Willihammer

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:36 AM

I was hoping that one of the supporters of pitch framing would have answered my question. How many strikeouts does it take to save a run?


It is sort of dependent. The baseball prospectus guys give weight to calls based on inning, home/away, age, experience, handedness, runs allowed, and walk rate. In sum, they believe switching the call from a ball to a strike on a close pitch is worth about 0.13 runs on average.

The pitchf/x guy I have reference before weighs pitcher, batter, and umpire called strike percentages against count-specific and pitch-specific league averages. it is explained in detail across his two blog posts here:

This is the sum of it

Since I talked about Darvish and Napoli at the beginning of this article, let me feature the duo to illustrate the point. Darvish faces Mike Trout with Napoli behind the plate and Bod Davidson... - Oh! the Nemesis of all Japanese fans! - calling the game, and Darvish throws 93 mph fastball a bit far and away to Trout, that Trout kept the stick on his shoulder and Bob called the pitch 'Ball!'. In 2012, that 1-0 pitch to a right-handed batter is estimated to be judged strike 87.0% of the time according to naive model, and this probability functions as a reference point. Then, the estimated probability of called strike on that pitch is adjusted by the hitter, pitcher, and umpire's own rate. Net called strike rate for Yu Darvish is -0.1%, meaning every pitch Darvish throws is less likely to be called strike, on a very slight amount. Likewise, Trout's net called strike rate is -0.5% and Bob's 1.7%, so the 87.0% probability naive model spitted is adjusted that exactly the same pitch to the same-handed hitter in the same hitting count for the same year, is now estimated to be called strike 88.1% of the time. Since Bob is a pitcher-friendly umpire, that pitching combo could benefit from his wider zone. Nonetheless, that pitch is called ball, so Napoli is debuted -.09 runs (-.881 times 0.102 runs, the run value in 1-0 count) for this result. The same procedure is conducted through all called pitches for all years. The count-based run value is via my own calculation, that I figured out linear weights through the count for 2008 to 2012, weeding out all intentional walks, bunts, and pitchers as batters. I did some slight correction for the distribution of the quality of hitters in each specific count, since lots of Pujols, Fielder, Mauer, et al. see themselves in 3-0 count. Here's run values chart for all counts permutation.

[TABLE="align: center"]
[TR="bgcolor: #AAAAAA"]
[TH]Ball[/TH]
[TH]Strike[/TH]
[TH]Run Values[/TH]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]0[/TD]
[TD]0[/TD]
[TD]0.071[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]0[/TD]
[TD]1[/TD]
[TD]0.079[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]0[/TD]
[TD]2[/TD]
[TD]0.195[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]1[/TD]
[TD]0[/TD]
[TD]0.102[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]1[/TD]
[TD]1[/TD]
[TD]0.107[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]1[/TD]
[TD]2[/TD]
[TD]0.231[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]2[/TD]
[TD]0[/TD]
[TD]0.152[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]2[/TD]
[TD]1[/TD]
[TD]0.165[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]2[/TD]
[TD]2[/TD]
[TD]0.319[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]3[/TD]
[TD]0[/TD]
[TD]0.179[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]3[/TD]
[TD]1[/TD]
[TD]0.256[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]3[/TD]
[TD]2[/TD]
[TD]0.575[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]


#23 The Wise One

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 08:22 PM

It's not really about strikeouts (even though the video talks about strikeouts... they would have been better served by ignoring something so heavily influenced by multiple factors, such as "we have a better pitching staff this season"). As another poster pointed out, the Yankees struck out more people in 2012 as well. Pinning (or even implying) that change is due to pitch framing is disingenuous.

Framing leads to a few more strikeouts, yes... But most of its value derives from changing 2-1 counts to 1-2 counts or 1-0 counts to 0-1. This forces the batter into a defensive approach and the pitcher into an aggressive approach where he can use all of his pitches instead of just getting it over.


What you are posting in regards to getting ahead of hitters is very elementary on the baseball knowledge side of things. The author though claims the pitch framing is helping at a fantastic rate of called strikes if Willihammer has accurate statistics. In the baseball prospectus article they based their claim on the improvement made by soley on one season of work by Molina in Tampa. Yet after Posada returned for New York and Molina was gone strikeouts went up dramatically in New York. The reply that you gave is really pointless in determining why New York did so much better. They still needed strike one and two, no different than the year before. SAtatistically speaking if they struck out more people after first being behind in the count their total is truely amazing as well as unlikely.

#24 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 08:48 PM

What you are posting in regards to getting ahead of hitters is very elementary on the baseball knowledge side of things. The author though claims the pitch framing is helping at a fantastic rate of called strikes if Willihammer has accurate statistics. In the baseball prospectus article they based their claim on the improvement made by soley on one season of work by Molina in Tampa. Yet after Posada returned for New York and Molina was gone strikeouts went up dramatically in New York. The reply that you gave is really pointless in determining why New York did so much better. They still needed strike one and two, no different than the year before. SAtatistically speaking if they struck out more people after first being behind in the count their total is truely amazing as well as unlikely.


I didn't try to give a reason why New York's strikeout rate went up... In fact, I did the exact opposite by stating that the video's implication that higher strikeout rates were due to pitch framing is disingenuous. There are simply too many reasons why strikeout rates fluctuate, first and foremost being "we found better pitchers this season".

What exactly are you even asking? In this situation, you can't affix a static run value to a strikeout. A three pitch strikeout is not the same as a five pitch strikeout is not the same as a full count strikeout over ten pitches.

Again, I said that the video's statement about strikeout rates and their attempts to tie it to pitch framing is a terrible idea. Look at increased strike calls, those are what pitch framing will influence. There are simply too many variables that lead to strikeouts and pointing a finger at pitch framing and stating "that's why we struck out so many people!" is so bloody stupid that I can't really fathom why they used it in the video.