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Yadier Molina Newsbeat

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.

 


Monday, May 04, 2015

Yadier Molina Forgot How To Frame A Pitch

Yadier Molina is terrible and the Astros will play the Cardinals in the World Series.

Since 2008, Molina has been the fifth-best framer in the league. In that time frame, Molina has saved more than 114 runs by flipping pitches that would have been close calls to strikes (worth about 11 wins, in aggregate). Since pitch framing isn’t yet accounted for when sabermetricians project a team’s statistics, Molina’s secret skill helps to explain the Cardinals’ outdoing their projections for the past 10 years and some of their perpetual October success (though to a lesser extent).

But this year, Molina’s framing is no longer even average. Already in 2015, Molina has cost his team about four strikes, while the best framers have gained more than 15. That may not sound like much, but over the course of a season, it could add up to a gap of more than 150 strikes, worth something like 25 runs. In his best year (2013), Molina acquired roughly that many extra strikes for his team, equating to an extra couple of wins per year for the Cardinals. This is no small-sample fluke, either. Unlike hitting and pitching, whose outcomes we still measure in the dozens this early in the season, Molina has seen 800 pitches this year. That sample size is plenty big.

It’s hard to know why Molina has lost his mojo. Some of Molina’s apparent decline may stem not from his own skill diminishing, but rather from other catchers becoming better. As front offices have become convinced of the importance of framing, we’ve seen many light-hitting but exceptional-framing backstops be promoted to full-time roles. Since Molina is always being compared to the average, if the average moves up, it may appear as though Molina is falling.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 04, 2015 at 01:00 PM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, framing, yadier molina

 

 

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