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The real value of a catcher - I think


Like most of the postings I am not a believer in pitch framing.  Who came up with this and started the trend? If everyone is doing it does it matter?  Why is the ump supposed to look at the glove when the flight of the ball over the various angles of the plate are what counts?  

What I am interested in is the ability to call a solid game.  How do we measure this?  Is it catcher era?  I know Jeffers has a much better era than Sanchez, but then he catches Ryan and Gray.  Do pitchers choose catchers because of the target they set, the game they call, or other reasons I don't know?

The trouble with catcher ERA is the fact that a lot of it is based on the quality of the pitchers.  If you are on a lousy team, I imagine the ERA goes up no matter what you call.  But a catcher who really calls a good game can save a pitcher from having to think about what to throw.  

Fangraphs says, "Finally, game management (or game calling) remains the black box of catcher defense. No one has cracked this code. Catchers play a huge role in determining which pitches to throw and how a pitcher navigates a given lineup. Honestly, there is no public research that provides much insight into game calling. By all accounts, it should matter, we just don’t have any idea how to measure it."

I know that Johnny Bench is consider gold standard in Catching.  Why?  What percent is batting?  What percent is blocking and throwing?  What percent is calling the right pitches? 

ESPN Classic says "Defensively, the 6-foot-1, 197-pound Bench set the standard for catchers of his era. His exceptionally large hands made him a natural to adopt the hinged mitt and one-handed catching style introduced by the Chicago Cubs' Randy Hundley. An innovator himself, he was the first backstop to wear a protective helmet in a game.

"With his throwing hand behind his back to protect it from foul tips, Bench caught 100 or more games in each of his first 13 full seasons to establish a National League record. He also set NL marks for most career putouts and chances, both since surpassed."

I am not a fan of the one knee on the ground that is now in vogue, but that is not the real issue here.  It really is about measuring performance and so far his 182 BA leaves me cold and his HRs in blow out games do nothing for me.  I was a real fan of Jeffers when he came up, but have been disappointed since.  Help me out.

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I completely agree with you. The big red machine was my Dad's favorite team and I was fortunate to see them play in person. The automatic strike zone is coming which will make pitch framing irrelevant. This is a very dubious stat, and I was never a believer in this measurement to assess a catchers value. At the end of last season, I was a fan of giving Rortvedt the catching nod over Jeffers - I loved Ben's arm, his quickness, and hoped he could become a hitter. Johnny Bench was the gold standard because he was a defensive minded, blocking and tackling hard throwing backstop general who could hit with the very best and led his team to multiple championships. I am not sure this caliber of player chooses to play catcher in this era? Here is an outside the box idea - After hearing that Miranda is our emergency catcher, I wonder why we wouldn't give a guy like him an opportunity to be the next Johnny Bench? 3B is the closest training ground to becoming a catcher, and we have plenty of 3B options on this current team. I understand this is not a mid-season possibility, but his bat would be nice in that spot. 

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1 hour ago, mikelink45 said:

Like most of the postings I am not a believer in pitch framing.  Who came up with this and started the trend? If everyone is doing it does it matter?  Why is the ump supposed to look at the glove when the flight of the ball over the various angles of the plate are what counts?  

What I am interested in is the ability to call a solid game.  How do we measure this?  Is it catcher era?  I know Jeffers has a much better era than Sanchez, but then he catches Ryan and Gray.  Do pitchers choose catchers because of the target they set, the game they call, or other reasons I don't know?

The trouble with catcher ERA is the fact that a lot of it is based on the quality of the pitchers.  If you are on a lousy team, I imagine the ERA goes up no matter what you call.  But a catcher who really calls a good game can save a pitcher from having to think about what to throw.  

Fangraphs says, "Finally, game management (or game calling) remains the black box of catcher defense. No one has cracked this code. Catchers play a huge role in determining which pitches to throw and how a pitcher navigates a given lineup. Honestly, there is no public research that provides much insight into game calling. By all accounts, it should matter, we just don’t have any idea how to measure it."

I know that Johnny Bench is consider gold standard in Catching.  Why?  What percent is batting?  What percent is blocking and throwing?  What percent is calling the right pitches? 

ESPN Classic says "Defensively, the 6-foot-1, 197-pound Bench set the standard for catchers of his era. His exceptionally large hands made him a natural to adopt the hinged mitt and one-handed catching style introduced by the Chicago Cubs' Randy Hundley. An innovator himself, he was the first backstop to wear a protective helmet in a game.

"With his throwing hand behind his back to protect it from foul tips, Bench caught 100 or more games in each of his first 13 full seasons to establish a National League record. He also set NL marks for most career putouts and chances, both since surpassed."

I am not a fan of the one knee on the ground that is now in vogue, but that is not the real issue here.  It really is about measuring performance and so far his 182 BA leaves me cold and his HRs in blow out games do nothing for me.  I was a real fan of Jeffers when he came up, but have been disappointed since.  Help me out.

I like your thought process on the value of calling a game. I don’t have much to add, except the pace of the game is a contributing factor too. That might be an indication of trust/alignment on the game plan between pitcher and catcher. Communication additional to the hand signals seems like a very important skill that I don’t have any statistical data to back up, but my observation of pitchers who work fast and control the game tend to have batters that call a lot of timeouts.
 

I think framing is an important stat until automated zones get deployed. There are 140+ pitches thrown in the average ballgame and meatballs down the middle get hammered, so a catcher’s receiving skills can impact 100+ outcomes per game (positive or negative). That is realistically 3-4 outs per game, maybe more.

all the talk about how good or bad a catcher’s arm is, in 2021 there were 2214 bases stolen in 2430 games or .911 per game. 1980 there were 3294 stolen.

season to date Jeffers has had 24 stolen bases against in 39 games .62 per game. He’s 30% better than league average.

yes, his bat lacks at 74 wRC+. Hopefully the leading indicators are accurate and the best is yet to come.

He’s still a very good defensive catcher where it counts.

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Pitch framing definitely matters. It's not about everyone doing it, it's about who's good at it. The umps aren't looking at the catcher's glove and making conscious decisions based on the movement, placement, what-have-you, they're being subconsciously influenced by the subtly of catcher glove movements. It's a real skill with real advantages, and Jeffers is above average, but not elite, at it.

Game calling is a huge part of being a catcher. It's a really hard thing to quantify, though. Pitchers and catchers have meetings before each series, and almost every game, to discuss the opposing hitters and their approaches to getting them out. Then each pitcher has an individual plan based on their pitching strengths, pitch types, etc. on how to get each hitter out. The key to game calling is more about being on the same page as the pitcher. As @Richie the Rally Goat points out, it feeds in to things like pace. The pitcher is the ultimate caller of pitches in game as they can shake off a catcher until they get to the pitch they want. But a catcher who is good at knowing what each of his pitchers likes to throw in certain situations can keep a pitcher in his rhythm and it helps tremendously. 

It will be very interesting to see what happens with the catching position as the automated strike zone becomes a thing. Pitch framing will disappear since they can't trick the computer. Will be interesting to see if teams start looking for more offensive minded catchers who can block and throw.

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I agree with you Mike that catching ERA is not a good way to grade overall catchers through out MLB. Because of the wide variety of matched up pitchers and opposing hitters. But I think we can evaluate catchers on the same team and how the fare w/ each pitcher. For example Jeffers, I don't like his arm and don't think that he's that great at game calling (as far as Archer is concerned). Still  Archer's ERA is under 2.00 with Jeffers (that includes NYY & LAD) while over 6.00 with Sanchez (doesn't include HOU, NYY or LAD). While catching the same # of games.

ERA in this case is very informative, it shows that Jeffers (although I'm not crazy about him) is more than 3X better than Sanchez while catching Archer. Gray doesn't want Sanchez to catch him, Jeffers is Ryan's catcher. The other pitchers probably has the same result as Archer. The result, Sanchez should not be used as a back catchers.

Agree with you again about game calling is one of the top quality of catching. You don't hear much about because of  game calling can't be analylized and maybe it isn't taught. In the past you could only go by reputation if a catcher was a good game caller.

Last year I rated our catching corp an  A. I considered Garver as our present catcher and Rortvedt as the future catcher and Jeffers as the back up both cases. Now I rate it C-, Jeffers above avg. and Sanchez well below avg. Right now I'd like to drop Sanchez as back up and upgrade our starting catcher position.

 

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3 hours ago, chpettit19 said:

Pitch framing definitely matters. It's not about everyone doing it, it's about who's good at it. The umps aren't looking at the catcher's glove and making conscious decisions based on the movement, placement, what-have-you, they're being subconsciously influenced by the subtly of catcher glove movements. It's a real skill with real advantages, and Jeffers is above average, but not elite, at it.

Game calling is a huge part of being a catcher. It's a really hard thing to quantify, though. Pitchers and catchers have meetings before each series, and almost every game, to discuss the opposing hitters and their approaches to getting them out. Then each pitcher has an individual plan based on their pitching strengths, pitch types, etc. on how to get each hitter out. The key to game calling is more about being on the same page as the pitcher. As @Richie the Rally Goat points out, it feeds in to things like pace. The pitcher is the ultimate caller of pitches in game as they can shake off a catcher until they get to the pitch they want. But a catcher who is good at knowing what each of his pitchers likes to throw in certain situations can keep a pitcher in his rhythm and it helps tremendously. 

It will be very interesting to see what happens with the catching position as the automated strike zone becomes a thing. Pitch framing will disappear since they can't trick the computer. Will be interesting to see if teams start looking for more offensive minded catchers who can block and throw.

I would love to hear a discussion among umpires about framing.

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2 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

I would love to hear a discussion among umpires about framing.

It would be interesting. I'd guess it'd go a lot like discussions amongst the rest of us, though. You'd have a segment of them that reject that it's even a thing. A segment that say it is, but don't like it. A segment that says it's a thing, doesn't like it, but appreciates the art of it (even if it frustrates them that it makes them look bad). I'm sure umps generally dislike it, though. Makes them look bad. They take pride in what they do and want to get calls right.

It's not a new thing, though. Catchers have been framing pitches for decades. The catchers I threw to back in the 90s as a middle school/high school kid were attempting (very poorly usually) to frame pitches. MLB and statcast have been tracking the "shadow zone" for a while now and the data is pretty conclusive. Certain catchers get more calls on the edges than others (controlled for both ballpark and pitchers). Either you think they're just lucky, have better relationships with umps so get bonus calls, or the way they receive that ball matters.

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2 minutes ago, chpettit19 said:

It would be interesting. I'd guess it'd go a lot like discussions amongst the rest of us, though. You'd have a segment of them that reject that it's even a thing. A segment that say it is, but don't like it. A segment that says it's a thing, doesn't like it, but appreciates the art of it (even if it frustrates them that it makes them look bad). I'm sure umps generally dislike it, though. Makes them look bad. They take pride in what they do and want to get calls right.

It's not a new thing, though. Catchers have been framing pitches for decades. The catchers I threw to back in the 90s as a middle school/high school kid were attempting (very poorly usually) to frame pitches. MLB and statcast have been tracking the "shadow zone" for a while now and the data is pretty conclusive. Certain catchers get more calls on the edges than others (controlled for both ballpark and pitchers). Either you think they're just lucky, have better relationships with umps so get bonus calls, or the way they receive that ball matters.

If the catcher is setting up his glove, six inches to a foot outside the strike zone , as I saw Jeffers do in a game last week, that umpire is going to call that a ball, IF , he is looking at the catcher's glove: or if he is looking at the catcher's glove and the ball accidentilly does hit the strike zone, then catcher has stolen a ball in what should have been a strike.

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2 minutes ago, RpR said:

If the catcher is setting up his glove, six inches to a foot outside the strike zone , as I saw Jeffers do in a game last week, that umpire is going to call that a ball, IF , he is looking at the catcher's glove: or if he is looking at the catcher's glove and the ball accidentilly does hit the strike zone, then catcher has stolen a ball in what should have been a strike.

There are instances where the catcher doesn't want the pitcher to throw a strike. They're attempting to get a batter to chase so will setup off the plate since that's where the pitcher is attempting to throw the ball. And, yes, catchers "steal" balls as well as strikes. That's the point. Good catchers turn more pitches on the edges into strikes while bad catchers turn them into balls.

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2 minutes ago, chpettit19 said:

There are instances where the catcher doesn't want the pitcher to throw a strike. They're attempting to get a batter to chase so will setup off the plate since that's where the pitcher is attempting to throw the ball. And, yes, catchers "steal" balls as well as strikes. That's the point. Good catchers turn more pitches on the edges into strikes while bad catchers turn them into balls.

So all the brouhaha about bad umpiring is the catcher fault.👽

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I’m still calling BS. Umpires are trained to call pitches where they cross the plate. The only way you can know if a catcher stole a strike is if you can tap into the umpires brain on that particular pitch. Otherwise everyone is just speculating. 

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All I know is that Castro was brought in for his framing ability and it was the Twins that got framed.

Why add a better pitcher or 2 when you can bring in a catcher that will improve the entire staff? That was the Falvey/Levine "pitch" to explain their big acquisition.  Season tickets go on sale now.

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Catcher ERA is full of noise. Run Average is a better way to measure pitchers than Earned Run Average. xFIP says that strikeout rate and walk rate is even better. If Jeffers is better with Archer than Sanchez it should show up in strikeout rate and walk rate. That's basically all framing can influence. Does Jeffers help his pitchers get strikeouts and avoid walks?

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15 hours ago, Linus said:

I’m still calling BS. Umpires are trained to call pitches where they cross the plate. The only way you can know if a catcher stole a strike is if you can tap into the umpires brain on that particular pitch. Otherwise everyone is just speculating. 

It doesn't matter what you train people to do if they're physically unable to do it. People can't "unsee" what happened to the ball after it crosses the plate and 3-D spatial depth perception of something moving 96 MPH isn't precise enough to pinpoint the exact moment when something crosses the plate. If human beings could always tell where the ball was at any given time then hitters would never miss a pitch.

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People who think pitch framing isn't real, and umps can't be influenced by things subconsciously, probably think advertising doesn't work and billion dollar corporations throw away 10s, if not 100s, of millions of dollars a year trying to influence their impenetrable brains.

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This. FO and management team seem to think framing is the most important thing. That’s why they have one foot out to get lower. Unfortunately, that makes it very difficult to throw anyone out. I think they just don’t care about stolen bases, and the stats may bear that out. Jeffers is giving up .62 SB’s per game. How many score?  How many score w/o the SB?  It must be negligible for them not to care. 

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First in terms of the pitch framing, I do agree that umps do not look at the glove, but I do feel if the glove is moving out of the zone to catch a pitch, versus moving into the zone, this will influence an Ump.  If the catcher is not moving at all this will influence the ump on the border line pitches too.  It is not so much where the catchers glove is, as most likely the ump is blocked by the body of the catcher, but how much movement and how subtle that movement is when doing it. That will influence the ump some on the close calls, which they get right about 50% of the time.  

I do think much of the value of a catcher is not easy to equate.  I think calling a game and setting up good targets is important.  Blocking pitches is huge as a pitcher needs to trust they will do that, or they may worry to much of wild pitches or passed balls.  In terms of calling a game that could come from dugout, but really the catcher knows how the pitcher is looking and what is working that day.  

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55 minutes ago, Reptevia said:

This. FO and management team seem to think framing is the most important thing. That’s why they have one foot out to get lower. Unfortunately, that makes it very difficult to throw anyone out. I think they just don’t care about stolen bases, and the stats may bear that out. Jeffers is giving up .62 SB’s per game. How many score?  How many score w/o the SB?  It must be negligible for them not to care. 

Yup, and 2021 mlb saw 2200 stolen bases in 2300 games .911 per game, the fewest ever. Jeffers is 30% better than average.

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4 hours ago, Richie the Rally Goat said:

Yup, and 2021 mlb saw 2200 stolen bases in 2300 games .911 per game, the fewest ever. Jeffers is 30% better than average.

Those stolen base numbers reflect for both teams in each game played.  I think you need to double the number of games, which will cut that per game figure in half.  b-r.com shows 2213 SB and 4858 games played on defense. 

https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/majors/2021-specialpos_c-fielding.shtml

To factor out partial games played, that table shows innings played, 42615 leaguewide.  So 2213/42615 gives .052.  Jeffers' 46 SB in 670 2/3 innings comes out as .069, or about 32% worse than average.  OTOH it's only one additional stolen base every 7 games. Is it a big deal, or not?

/ if I did all this higher math right

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Framing has been around since the 70’s, at least in my experience as a catcher back then. I think those that believe umps are influenced by it, are over reacting.

The K zone we see on tv broadcasts, seems suspect to me as to what the real zone is, and actually would serve a better purpose if some IT guys could use historical data from each ump’s zone calls and plug that into each broadcast?

Also, since base stealing seems to be completely forgotten about (one more reason today’s game is not as good as it once was) is a catcher’s arm really something to worry about?

 

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1 hour ago, ashbury said:

Those stolen base numbers reflect for both teams in each game played.  I think you need to double the number of games, which will cut that per game figure in half.  b-r.com shows 2213 SB and 4858 games played on defense. 

https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/majors/2021-specialpos_c-fielding.shtml

To factor out partial games played, that table shows innings played, 42615 leaguewide.  So 2213/42615 gives .052.  Jeffers' 46 SB in 670 2/3 innings comes out as .069, or about 32% worse than average.  OTOH it's only one additional stolen base every 7 games. Is it a big deal, or not?

/ if I did all this higher math right

2 catchers per game… sigh.., details…

yup, worse than league average.

 

agreed, how many runs does 22 to 23 additional stolen bases per season equate to? wRAA uses a factor of .1 for stolen bases, so 2.3 runs per season more than average

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1 hour ago, Tlaker said:

Framing has been around since the 70’s, at least in my experience as a catcher back then. I think those that believe umps are influenced by it, are over reacting.

The K zone we see on tv broadcasts, seems suspect to me as to what the real zone is, and actually would serve a better purpose if some IT guys could use historical data from each ump’s zone calls and plug that into each broadcast?

Also, since base stealing seems to be completely forgotten about (one more reason today’s game is not as good as it once was) is a catcher’s arm really something to worry about?

 

Yes

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13 hours ago, Richie the Rally Goat said:

agreed, how many runs does 22 to 23 additional stolen bases per season equate to? wRAA uses a factor of .1 for stolen bases, so 2.3 runs per season more than average

I see 0.25 per stolen base here:

Custom wOBA and Linear Weights Through 2010: Baseball Databank Data Dump 2.1 - Beyond the Box Score

The wOBA factor for a walk at that same link is 0.7. If Jeffers' framing saves his pitchers 1 walk for every 3 stolen bases he gives up he breaks even.

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On 6/21/2022 at 10:43 AM, mikelink45 said:

Like most of the postings I am not a believer in pitch framing.  Who came up with this and started the trend? If everyone is doing it does it matter?  Why is the ump supposed to look at the glove when the flight of the ball over the various angles of the plate are what counts?  

As others have pointed out, catcher framing has been around for a long time.  If it was being taught in the 70's it was probably taught well before then too.  I think this is an important point that is overlooked a lot by a lot of people that criticize catcher framing today, so it bears repeating.

The things that have changed is the ability to quantify catcher framing and the ability to see it on a pitch by pitch basis in real time.

The modern approach to pitch framing probably started around 2006 with the introduction of pitch tracking cameras/software (PITCHf/x) to all MLB ballparks.  The first publicly published metrics of catcher framing came in 2008.  The biggest change in the way catchers actually frame pitches is probably in how they try to get the low strike.  There are other subtle differences in how they try to start moving the glove before they catch the pitch rather than jerking it afterwards.  But from my memory, catchers tried to frame inside and outside pitches in very similar ways well before there were metrics and we were so conscious about it.

Around 2014, catcher framing actually did starting mattering a lot less according to the metrics.  When the metrics were first introduced guys like Brian McCann and Russell Martin were supposedly adding around 3 wins a season just from framing.  I think they sort of knew what they were doing, so it was part skill, but it was also just that there was so much variation because teams knew about framing but hadn't yet realized what a big deal it could actually be.  Everyone is closer in framing skill now, so the best and worst guys are typically only adding or subtracting about 1 win.

The other big change is that we now have gamecasts tracking pitches and broadcasts putting up little boxes and pitch locations for every pitch.  This has massively raised our expectations for what is a strike.  I remember a time when on a 3-0 count the pitch only had to be close to the zone to be a strike, and on a 0-2 pitch it had to be practically down the middle.  This is still a little bit true, but mostly not.  My guess is that umpires are actually better than they've ever been at calling balls and strikes on a whole.  We know that pitch tracking is also used to evaluate umpires.  Most of them want to perform well at their job, and are able to work to improve their pitch calling with data from pitch tracking.

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2 minutes ago, 2wins87 said:

As others have pointed out, catcher framing has been around for a long time.  If it was being taught in the 70's it was probably taught well before then too.  I think this is an important point that is overlooked a lot by a lot of people that criticize catcher framing today, so it bears repeating.

The things that have changed is the ability to quantify catcher framing and the ability to see it on a pitch by pitch basis in real time.

The modern approach to pitch framing probably started around 2006 with the introduction of pitch tracking cameras/software (PITCHf/x) to all MLB ballparks.  The first publicly published metrics of catcher framing came in 2008.  The biggest change in the way catchers actually frame pitches is probably in how they try to get the low strike.  There are other subtle differences in how they try to start moving the glove before they catch the pitch rather than jerking it afterwards.  But from my memory, catchers tried to frame inside and outside pitches in very similar ways well before there were metrics and we were so conscious about it.

Around 2014, catcher framing actually did starting mattering a lot less according to the metrics.  When the metrics were first introduced guys like Brian McCann and Russell Martin were supposedly adding around 3 wins a season just from framing.  I think they sort of knew what they were doing, so it was part skill, but it was also just that there was so much variation because teams knew about framing but hadn't yet realized what a big deal it could actually be.  Everyone is closer in framing skill now, so the best and worst guys are typically only adding or subtracting about 1 win.

The other big change is that we now have gamecasts tracking pitches and broadcasts putting up little boxes and pitch locations for every pitch.  This has massively raised our expectations for what is a strike.  I remember a time when on a 3-0 count the pitch only had to be close to the zone to be a strike, and on a 0-2 pitch it had to be practically down the middle.  This is still a little bit true, but mostly not.  My guess is that umpires are actually better than they've ever been at calling balls and strikes on a whole.  We know that pitch tracking is also used to evaluate umpires.  Most of them want to perform well at their job, and are able to work to improve their pitch calling with data from pitch tracking.

It may have been around, but we are now at an absurd point of making such a big deal out of it.  Pitchers like Glavine, Smoltz, and Maddux earned their wide K zones by control, not catchers.  Put in the SB and see if the catcher has all the skills. 

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On 6/21/2022 at 10:43 AM, mikelink45 said:

What I am interested in is the ability to call a solid game.  How do we measure this?  Is it catcher era?  I know Jeffers has a much better era than Sanchez, but then he catches Ryan and Gray.  Do pitchers choose catchers because of the target they set, the game they call, or other reasons I don't know?

The trouble with catcher ERA is the fact that a lot of it is based on the quality of the pitchers.  If you are on a lousy team, I imagine the ERA goes up no matter what you call.  But a catcher who really calls a good game can save a pitcher from having to think about what to throw.  

 

I think we can use catcher ERA if we are comparing closer to apples to apples.  Yes, you have to take out Ryan, Gray, and Smeltzer, who have had personal catchers so far, and should probably try to normalize for discrepancies in innings caught as well, but this is doable.

I was interested in the question of Jeffers vs Sanchez a week or so ago so I actually started putting together a spreadsheet to track their stats on a pitcher by pitcher basis.  I updated this morning to account for yesterday's game. One thing you can look at is their relative ERAs for relief pitchers, which isn't dictated by pitcher preference.

I've recorded catcher splits for each relief pitcher with at least 15 IP so far, and the total difference between Jeffers and Sanchez was actually way bigger than I expected.

Simply adding up for a sum total the stats are:

Jeffers:  111 IP, 3.05 ERA, 3.86 FIP

Sanchez: 68 IP, 5.03 ERA, 4.88 FIP

I also tried a weighted average where each pitcher was weighted by their total innings pitched, not just the IP to each catcher.  The results:

Jeffers: 3.16 ERA, 3.96 FIP

Sanchez: 5.18 ERA, 4.63 FIP

I also did the same thing for starters excluding Ryan, Gray, Smeltzer, Gonzalez, and Winder and Sands (who have also pitched as relievers).  The sum total results:

Jeffers: 72.1 IP, 3.11 ERA, 3.41 FIP

Sanchez 87 IP, 5.07 ERA, 4.21 FIP

And the weighted totals:

Jeffers: 3.07 ERA, 3.40 FIP

Sanchez: 4.90 ERA, 4.11 FIP

 

There might not be a perfect method for comparing catcher ERA, but all of the numbers I found point to Jeffers maybe saving about 1 run per 9 innings in game calling and working with his pitchers vs Sanchez.  If they each caught 80 games that would add up to about 8 wins over the course of a season, definitely bigger than the difference between their offensive contributions.

I'm inclined to think that there is some randomness working against Sanchez and the difference isn't really quite that big, but even so, I've been quite convinced that Jeffers has actually been the more valuable catcher so far with all things considered, and probably by quite a big margin.

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8 hours ago, 2wins87 said:

 

I think we can use catcher ERA if we are comparing closer to apples to apples.  Yes, you have to take out Ryan, Gray, and Smeltzer, who have had personal catchers so far, and should probably try to normalize for discrepancies in innings caught as well, but this is doable.

I was interested in the question of Jeffers vs Sanchez a week or so ago so I actually started putting together a spreadsheet to track their stats on a pitcher by pitcher basis.  I updated this morning to account for yesterday's game. One thing you can look at is their relative ERAs for relief pitchers, which isn't dictated by pitcher preference.

I've recorded catcher splits for each relief pitcher with at least 15 IP so far, and the total difference between Jeffers and Sanchez was actually way bigger than I expected.

Simply adding up for a sum total the stats are:

Jeffers:  111 IP, 3.05 ERA, 3.86 FIP

Sanchez: 68 IP, 5.03 ERA, 4.88 FIP

I also tried a weighted average where each pitcher was weighted by their total innings pitched, not just the IP to each catcher.  The results:

Jeffers: 3.16 ERA, 3.96 FIP

Sanchez: 5.03 ERA, 4.88 FIP

I also did the same thing for starters excluding Ryan, Gray, Smeltzer, Gonzalez, and Winder and Sands (who have also pitched as relievers).  The sum total results:

Jeffers: 72.1 IP, 3.11 ERA, 3.41 FIP

Sanchez 87 IP, 5.07 ERA, 4.21 FIP

And the weighted totals:

Jeffers: 3.07 ERA, 3.40 FIP

Sanchez: 4.90 ERA, 4.11 FIP

 

There might not be a perfect method for comparing catcher ERA, but all of the numbers I found point to Jeffers maybe saving about 1 run per 9 innings in game calling and working with his pitchers vs Sanchez.  If they each caught 80 games that would add up to about 8 wins over the course of a season, definitely bigger than the difference between their offensive contributions.

I'm inclined to think that there is some randomness working against Sanchez and the difference isn't really quite that big, but even so, I've been quite convinced that Jeffers has actually been the more valuable catcher so far with all things considered, and probably by quite a big margin.

Nice research

 

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