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Article: Joe Mauer and catcher framing

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#1 Parker Hageman

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 09:35 AM

You can view the page at http://twinsdaily.co...catcher-framing

"You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time." -- Jim Bouton, "Ball Four"


#2 Willihammer

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 09:56 AM

I don't know if its really fair to compare Mauer to Lucroy, who is about as elite as Jose Molina in terms of framing.

Might be that Mauer still gets an above average number of low strikes called.

edit:

Mauer’s 19.5% strike rate low in the zone is well-below the average for catchers –in fact, 41.3% below average.


So, the average low strike rate is 19.5/.587 = 33.2%?

Edited by Willihammer, 17 April 2013 - 09:59 AM.


#3 Willihammer

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 10:13 AM

We classified pitches within two inches above the strike zone as “high,” within two inches below the strike zone as “low,"

[TABLE="align: center"]

rea

Called Strikes

Called Pitches

Called Strike Percentage



High

5200

27302

19.0



Low

16666

50145

33.2



Side

28725

123832

23.2

[/TABLE]


So that's 1.34 low pitches per half inning. 12 per game. Mauer gets 2.3 of them called strikes, and the average catcher gets 3.8. A strike and a half per game on average. yeah that seems significant.

#4 gunnarthor

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 10:18 AM

"Hansel hot"? Not sure I've ever heard that expression before.

#5 Don't Feed the Greed Guy

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 10:32 AM

Another great article for us novices, Parker. You raise my knowledge of the game, and appreciation for the finer details. Also, good use of graphics/links. Nice work.

#6 Parker Hageman

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 11:17 AM

@Willihammer,

I don't think you are incorrect in questioning the impact of a catcher's ability to corral more strikes, because I don't think there is a straight line you can draw and say this skill is worth X amount of wins. However, Mike Fast at BP (now an Astros front office staff) attempted to quantify it. His research said an elite catcher like Jose Molina was work 72 runs over five season -- roughly 7 wins.

To me, what it is, which I attempted to explain in the begin, is the butterfly effect caused by a catcher's inability to get a strike called -- similar to a fielder's inability to make a play on a batted ball. The totals may be few -- as you pointed out -- but the events that transpire after that occurrence is what may effect the pitcher/team.

"Hansel hot"? Not sure I've ever heard that expression before.


Not a Zoolander fan? Is that reference too dated? Am I getting that old?

#7 Oxtung

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 11:37 AM

So that's 1.34 low pitches per half inning. 12 per game. Mauer gets 2.3 of them called strikes, and the average catcher gets 3.8. A strike and a half per game on average. yeah that seems significant.


You have to take into account the other half of the equation though. How many strikes got called balls? The differential is the important part. That number is not nearly as large. For instance Yadier Molina's NET strike's called is 3 for the entire season so far. That's 3 more strike's than should have been called through 45 Innings.

#8 Dave T

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 12:32 PM

I have a different "other half of the equation". Joe is getting more high strike calls than Lucroy. Even a sinker ball pitcher has to throw high once in a while.

#9 husker brian

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 12:52 PM

Those are just two terrible calls on both pitches highlighted. Umpires are so inconsistent with the strike zone, its a tough stat to track, IMO.

#10 Willihammer

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 01:03 PM

You have to take into account the other half of the equation though. How many strikes got called balls? The differential is the important part. That number is not nearly as large. For instance Yadier Molina's NET strike's called is 3 for the entire season so far. That's 3 more strike's than should have been called through 45 Innings.


Out of curiosity where did you get that info?

Its a complicated question no doubt. There are also the merciful umpire and the ruthless umpire effects. So count has to be factored into the equation somewhere. If you have a strikethrowing staff, it woudl stand to reason that you are going to lose a lot more of those borderline 0-2 calls, and likewise, if your staff falls behind a lot, you might get the benefit of more 2-0 and 3-0 strike calls. But maybe Mike Fast and the guys at BP are already accounting for things like this.

#11 Willihammer

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 01:09 PM

@Willihammer,

I don't think you are incorrect in questioning the impact of a catcher's ability to corral more strikes, because I don't think there is a straight line you can draw and say this skill is worth X amount of wins. However, Mike Fast at BP (now an Astros front office staff) attempted to quantify it. His research said an elite catcher like Jose Molina was work 72 runs over five season -- roughly 7 wins.

To me, what it is, which I attempted to explain in the begin, is the butterfly effect caused by a catcher's inability to get a strike called -- similar to a fielder's inability to make a play on a batted ball. The totals may be few -- as you pointed out -- but the events that transpire after that occurrence is what may effect the pitcher/team.

I was trying to scale the rates and totals into something digestible but maybe it was a vain attempt since yeah pretty much impossible to zip up the cumulative effects into a single statistic. Its all too easy to imagine a scenario like last night where Swarzak gets screwed out of 1 lousy strike and it leading to a 9 run rally and lost game.

#12 ThePuck

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 01:14 PM

I was trying to scale the rates and totals into something digestible but maybe it was a vain attempt since yeah pretty much impossible to zip up the cumulative effects into a single statistic. Its all too easy to imagine a scenario like last night where Swarzak gets screwed out of 1 lousy strike and it leading to a 9 run rally and lost game.


speaking of Swarzak, he seemed to be throwing completely different than he used to. I couldn't believe my eyes last night. Throwing with determination, movement all over the place...snapping off pitches. Totally in the zone. It was great to see.

#13 cmathewson

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 01:36 PM

That Parmelee strike was made worse by the fact that he had been very stingy on strikes on the outside corner with a lefty hitting all night. Pelfry had several that I thought were on the corner or on the black called balls. Relative to many of those, that one was six inches outside and four inches low. It was one of the most inconsistent zones I've seen all year.
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#14 Thor

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 01:40 PM

You also have to take the pitcher into account. I could catch Greg Maddux and get a lot of borderline calls but Swarzak isn't going to get near the calls regardless of who is behind the plate.

#15 h2oface

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 04:14 PM

It is a shame that this even comes into play now. A shame that the balls and strikes can't just be balls and strikes, because they are and the tech is there to make it right all the time.

#16 Oxtung

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 04:22 PM

Out of curiosity where did you get that info?

Its a complicated question no doubt. There are also the merciful umpire and the ruthless umpire effects. So count has to be factored into the equation somewhere. If you have a strikethrowing staff, it woudl stand to reason that you are going to lose a lot more of those borderline 0-2 calls, and likewise, if your staff falls behind a lot, you might get the benefit of more 2-0 and 3-0 strike calls. But maybe Mike Fast and the guys at BP are already accounting for things like this.


I got it from the original BP article linked to in Parker's article. They are tracking Yadier Molina's weekly and yearly totals in their weekly article. It would be nice if we could see ALL the background data and look at Mauer and Doumit specifically but I don't know that the raw data is easily available.

#17 fairweather

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 04:30 PM

Those bottom inches of the strike zone are critical. Mauer shouldn't catch.

#18 Ultima Ratio

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 04:39 PM

I'm beginning to join the unpopular position of letting technology call the strikes, not a human. It's real time, no delay, no bias, complete viewing coverage of the plate. Umpiring is becoming a "make-work" program. I don't hold this view in any strong way, but would love to hear the arguments on both sides. I guess one obstacle would be letting the catcher know in real time whether the pitch were a strike or not when runners are moving and on dropped third strikes. Would there be and immediate flash of light or sound indicating a strike -- like they have in tennis on serves to call it out? I dunno, but I think this eventually will happen.

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 04:40 PM

It is a shame that this even comes into play now. A shame that the balls and strikes can't just be balls and strikes, because they are and the tech is there to make it right all the time.

I'm not sure that's true. I'd like to believe it, but just because a mechanical system measures a given pitch, doesn't mean that measurement is actually correct. Small sample size, but go take a look at the BP article in Parker's article. Down near the bottom you'll see "worst frames." Take a look at number 5 (Hendriks Doumit)...a pitch measured as 0.000 ft from the strike zone. The pitch is clearly well inside, a fact even mentioned by the author in his comments. Yet according to "the tech," the pitch should have been called a strike. I'd like to see some independent proof that pitch f/x or any other system is more accurate than umpires before I assume it to be true. We already know questec was basically garbage, and you only have to watch a game, and simultaneously watch one of the gameday-like simulators, to know the gameday representation of pitches is questionable at best.

#20 cmathewson

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 05:04 PM

I'm not sure that's true. I'd like to believe it, but just because a mechanical system measures a given pitch, doesn't mean that measurement is actually correct. Small sample size, but go take a look at the BP article in Parker's article. Down near the bottom you'll see "worst frames." Take a look at number 5 (Hendriks Doumit)...a pitch measured as 0.000 ft from the strike zone. The pitch is clearly well inside, a fact even mentioned by the author in his comments. Yet according to "the tech," the pitch should have been called a strike. I'd like to see some independent proof that pitch f/x or any other system is more accurate than umpires before I assume it to be true. We already know questec was basically garbage, and you only have to watch a game, and simultaneously watch one of the gameday-like simulators, to know the gameday representation of pitches is questionable at best.


There will come a time when a mechanical balls-and-strikes umpire will be clearly more effective than a human. I remember when Wimbeldon went to our system (I work for IBM) for line judge calls. It took that error out of the game. Now, that's in one dimension and the strike zone is in two dimensions, so it's more complex. But just looking at Fox Trax gives me confidence that a machine would be better than many umpires right now. Given Moore's Law, it's a matter of a couple of years before the machines are better than all human umpires.

At the very least, they should consider a system like the NFL has: Managers get a few calls a game to challenge. If the system shows that the ump made an obvious bad call, it will be reversed. If not, the manager is charged with something--a ball to the next batter or something. That call in the Rangers/Rays game would never happen with such a system.
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