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Does WAR hate his defense?
mike piazza should have been awarded the 1997 nl mvp
For example, in 1996, this catcher hit .336/.422/.563 in 631 plate appearances. That's just 5.4 WAR--a "typical" all-star season??? What the hell else could he do?!?!?!
Well, that is the flaw of WAR not really a major flaw of Piazza's. Piazza overall defensively was at least an average to good catcher. The problem is that WAR only measures the running games and PB/WP for catchers. Other metrics that measure pitch framing, fielding, and such have him being rather good at those things. Piazza has sort of noted when you brought up pitchers had some godawful preventers of stolen base pitchers on his team. For the most part runners run on the pitcher and not on the catcher. I posted it once before but there was a game in which Piazza was behind the plate and 10 Rockies stole on him but they did it all before the 6th inning. After the 5th inning no one tried to run and the reason no one tried to run was because Nomo left the game after the 5th.
I'd have to look at the numbers again but I remember one guy who wasn't very good at holding runners was Armando Benitez and Hideo came over for half a season as well.
(I also have to say, though I really love the stat, I find Piazza's WAR totals very confusing. For example, in 1996, this catcher hit .336/.422/.563 in 631 plate appearances. That's just 5.4 WAR--a "typical" all-star season??? What the hell else could he do?!?!?!)
Does WAR hate his defense?
bb-ref's dWAR is pretty ambivalent towards it -- exact +1 for his whole career -- but my recollection is that most people think dWAR is bullocks for catchers anyway.
Right, I should have made this clearer (after I immediately envisioned Piazza at SS!) But the thing is, you can envision Matt Williams at shortstop. You can envision Scott Rolen there, easily. You can envision Mickey Morandini at SS, or envision Mark Grudzielanek – heck, you don't have to; Grudzielanek played SS. You can envision a horde of utility men there, because they play there every year: but almost any of those guys at catcher is a nightmare.
For the most part runners run on the pitcher and not on the catcher.
In short, when it comes to the timing variables within the running game and the reputation of the battery mates, our study refutes the conventional wisdom that the catcher’s arm is primarily responsible for caught stealing. While there are other lurking variables at play — like pitch location and handedness of the batter — surface value says that a pitcher’s quickness to the plate is a whole lot more influential than a catcher’s arm in the battery dynamic. Said lurking variables will be topics for future installments and will help us dive deeper into assigning credit to one of the two battery mates. When it comes down to the timing variable, the need for speed is on the pitcher’s side of the rubber.
Given our findings, it is reasonable to say, at the least, that the pitcher is more responsible than we conventionally think when it comes to catching base-runners stealing -- largely due to the fact that we know that a pitcher's CS%, isolated or overall, correlates highly with CS% for the battery as a whole and twice as much as a catcher's CS%.
As it turns out, the pitcher, and not the catcher, is the player with the higher propensity to influence the running game, whether in a positive or negative way.
Now I'll throw a team out there, and you can guess how many runs they saved by controlling the running game.
Ready? Dodgers: How many runs did they save!
That doesn't seem like a lot. Eleven runs, everything else being equal, is one W.
Here's the punchline, though: The Dodgers were the best at controlling the running game. The Dodgers were the only team that saved more than seven runs that way. All that effort was rewarded with an extra victory ... but that's without accounting for all the slide-steps that might have made things easier for the hitters, or the fastballs thrown to make things easier for the catcher in obvious steal situations. Almost makes you wonder if teams just shouldn't worry much about the running game at all.
On the other side of the ledger, the Tigers lost 16 runs and the Athletics 12 ... and this is where I'm contractually obligated to mention that both of those teams won division titles. Which, again, makes you wonder ...
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