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Jim Furtado
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Editor - Baseball Primer


Catchers Newsbeat

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Buster Posey’s Pitch Framing Makes Him A Potential MVP | FiveThirtyEight

Sounds like WAR needs to be tweaked.

No current version of WAR accounts for framing, a catcher’s art of carefully receiving the pitch in such a way as to cause the umpire to call it a strike. That happens to be Posey’s most important defensive talent. Good framers turn pitches outside of the zone into strikes and keep pitches within the zone from being called incorrectly as balls. This ability, in turn, scares opposing batters into swinging at less-optimal pitches, making the impact of good framing significant. Our best estimates put a good framer as worth up to three or four wins per year.

So far this season, Posey has racked up 11.8 runs in value from his framing, more than an entire win’s worth to add to his total and putting him within a win of Trout. Catchers who consistently earn strikes where umps usually call balls are clearly good at manipulating the umpires, but there’s some mystery as to how good framers like Posey get those calls. I wanted to understand not just what Posey does when a pitch comes in, but also what he does that other catchers don’t do.

Jim Furtado Posted: July 30, 2015 at 01:03 PM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: buster posey, catchers, defense, giants, pitch framing, sabermetrics, war

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Baseball’s best catchers visualized - Beyond the Box Score

This allows for reviewing players by position and plotting their salary against their WAR values. FanGraphs includes a measure that estimates the dollar value a player has delivered, which creates an apples-to-apples comparison—their pro-rated salary compared to their FanGraphs Dollar Value (FG$V). This makes it very easy to see who’s delivering value—and who isn’t.

Jim Furtado Posted: May 26, 2015 at 11:20 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: catchers, sabermetrics

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Measuring MLB’s best game-callers

No Vin Scully?

1. How do you measure game-calling?

Here’s a fun task: Try quantifying something as ephemeral as game-calling. Well, after a decade of research, that’s just what we’ve managed to do—by crafting a statistical model that attempts to quantify the value of everything from stolen-base prevention and directing pace of play to identifying hitter tendencies like swing behavior in various game situations and knowing which batters expand hit zones in RBI opportunities. Sound complicated? Oh, it is. But based on these factors, and controlling for others, we can now quantify, in runs saved, how well catchers manage their pitchers….

4. The guide to the best game caller of them all: little-known 34-year-old Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis

A.J. Ellis, in a vacuum, is a below-average catcher. His career batting average is .240. His career OPS is .689. He’s made 396 starts in eight seasons. The Dodgers, of course, know all this. But they also know that two of the game’s best hurlers, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, absolutely love pitching to him. Why? Because Ellis is the best game caller in the business, and now we can actually prove it. His game-calling alone saved the Dodgers 38 runs from 2012 to 2014, though he gave back 19 of those runs with everything else he did behind the plate (see below). Does it hurt to be Ellis? At times, perhaps. But at least now, when that ninth foul tip slaps his once-unheralded (but now-appreciated) inner thigh, it might not sting quite so much.




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