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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Pitch-Framing Data Is Going Insane | FanGraphs Baseball

What about the umpires? Aren’t they learning as well? Might some of the *tricks* of being a good pitch framer not fooling the umpires as much? It would be interesting to see whether umpires are more consistently calling the strike zone and whether that consistency has improved over this timeline.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 08, 2017 at 06:38 PM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: pitch framing

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   1. G. Bostock Posted: November 09, 2017 at 08:28 AM (#5573353)
Welington Castillo is currently a free agent. He just spent the year with the Orioles. When he became an Oriole, he had the record of being a below-average framer. Last year, he performed like an above-average framer....From 2014 to 2015, Iannetta got dramatically better. From 2015 to 2016, he got dramatically worse. And from 2016 to 2017, he got dramatically better again.

I have to wonder if the pitcher might be a factor in pitch-framing as well as the catcher. Castillo changes teams and gets better! Iannetta changes teams and gets worse, changes again and gets better!

Other examples cited in the article remain with the same team year-to-year, although in the case of JT Realmuto the pitching staff experienced important changes between 2016 and 2017.

Have there been any studies looking at whom the catcher is catching?
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 09, 2017 at 08:33 AM (#5573357)
What about the umpires? Aren’t they learning as well? Might some of the *tricks* of being a good pitch framer not fooling the umpires as much?

I would guess this is happening a lot. Even just subconsciously, if you know a guy has a rep as a good framer, you'll be less likely to give him a borderline call.

Edit: BTW, this is a good thing. Framing shouldn't be a thing that impacts games. The pitch should be called based on actual location, not how the catcher receives it.

So, if umpires have adjusted to reduce the value of framing, good for them.
   3. PreservedFish Posted: November 09, 2017 at 08:48 AM (#5573363)
I would title this differently:

Pitch Framing Data is Becoming Less Insane and Thus Increasingly Believable

Several on this site predicted that this would happen as soon as all the teams - and the umpires themselves! - began studying video and adapting. So this article is not a surprise, and it's good news, in my opinion. I don't know if Jose Molina was really stealing strikes by the bucket, but if he was, I'm glad that it's not easy to do that anymore. Or, perhaps, that everyone else got so good at it that the advantage melted away. I think that makes for a better game.
   4. DL from MN Posted: November 09, 2017 at 10:45 AM (#5573423)
There is a lot of noise and not as much signal here due to quantization effects of balls and strikes. A borderline pitch gets called a strike 50% of the time. We should expect quantization error to be a large component of the measurement.
   5. -- Posted: November 09, 2017 at 11:02 AM (#5573460)
It's an embarrassment to the sport that the "strike zone" is (apparently) this prone to manipulation.
   6. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: November 09, 2017 at 11:21 AM (#5573481)

I have to wonder if the pitcher might be a factor in pitch-framing as well as the catcher. Castillo changes teams and gets better! Iannetta changes teams and gets worse, changes again and gets better!


According to a comment in the FG story, BP does control for pitchers in their framing data.
   7. Perry Posted: November 09, 2017 at 12:17 PM (#5573531)
1. I read a quote from a catcher once, possibly in a Roger Angell piece on catchers, that pitch framing wasn't about getting the ump to call a ball a strike, it was about making sure he called a strike a strike.

2. Assuming it's a skill that varies among catchers, I have absolutely no problem with it impacting games. It's a human element that I favor.
   8. G. Bostock Posted: November 09, 2017 at 12:58 PM (#5573565)
According to a comment in the FG story, BP does control for pitchers in their framing data.

That's interesting. I suspect the math would be beyond me, but I would like to know how they go about it. I see that BPro does a Called Strike Above Average rating for pitchers as well as catchers. (tl;dr - in 2017 Zach Davies was fairly good at it)
   9. The importance of being Ernest Riles Posted: November 09, 2017 at 01:19 PM (#5573569)
Not sure how BPro does their calculation, but this seems like exactly the kind of study that calls for Tango's "With or Without You" methodology. Does anybody know of pitch-framing studies that used that method?
   10. Walt Davis Posted: November 09, 2017 at 03:00 PM (#5573648)
#1, #8, #9 ... you have me to thank. :-) Way back in the early days of pitch framing I made this point on here. Tango did indeed look at it and found very big pitcher effects (Derek Lowe was a thief at the time, stealing something like 6 strikes a game). Tango took a quick look, probably using the method in #9 but I don't recall -- but the results for catchers didn't change hugely and I think it still came to the best adding up to 2 wins a year. It wasn't so much that the pitchers didn't have an effect as it was that apparently all teams had fairly balanced staffs -- i.e. Lowe might still 6 but other guys combining to give up 5 and all teams ended up about average from the pitchers' perspective.

The very first study might have also used 0/1 counting (i.e. this should have been a ball, was called a stride) rather than "this is a ball 70% of the time, so you get credit for .7 of a strike."

What surprised me back in those days and the conversation with Tango (I think it was all on here, maybe some of it was private) was the run value of a strike. Given the number of pitches caught, it was something like just 2 stolen strikes per game (or 4 stolen half-strikes) to add up to a couple of wins a year. The best catcher stealing 4 half strikes over 140 pitches per game sounds plausible to me. Whether 200-250 stolen strikes per year adds up to two wins was the part I was more skeptical about.
   11. Greg K Posted: November 09, 2017 at 09:21 PM (#5573871)
1. I read a quote from a catcher once, possibly in a Roger Angell piece on catchers, that pitch framing wasn't about getting the ump to call a ball a strike, it was about making sure he called a strike a strike.

I find a catcher "losing" a strike is far more noticeable when you're watching a game.
   12. Greg Pope Posted: November 09, 2017 at 10:49 PM (#5573892)
I find a catcher "losing" a strike is far more noticeable when you're watching a game.

Right. You never see the ump look down to see where the glove is. There's just no way that the catcher bringing the glove back towards the middle has an effect on the call.

Now, the catcher lunging at a ball on the corner could easily influence the umpire.
   13. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 10, 2017 at 09:11 AM (#5573951)
Now, the catcher lunging at a ball on the corner could easily influence the umpire.

But, it's better if it doesn't.

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