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Sunday, August 29, 2021

Yadier Molina’s Hall of Fame case is perplexing, but here’s why the catcher is deserving


Earlier this week, venerable Cardinals backstop Yadier Molina announced that—after signing a one-year extension with the Cardinals—2022 would be his final season. Once his farewell tour ends, it will bring to an end a 19-year career all with the Cardinals. It’s a career that includes 10 All-Star Games, nine Gold Gloves, four Platinum Gloves, two World Series titles and plenty of adulation from the St. Louis area and beyond.

Once Molina has been retired for five years, he’ll be on the Hall of Fame ballot. His case is a perplexing one at the intersection of numbers and the so-called intangibles.

In JAWS, Molina ranks 22nd all-time among catchers, well below the average Hall of Fame catcher and trailing contemporary players like Jason Kendall and Jorge Posada. Joe Mauer is seventh and Buster Posey is 14th (and counting). Gene Tenace and Bill Freehan are among other non-HOF types rating well ahead of Molina here. If we go strictly by WAR, Molina is 20th and still well below the average Hall of Fame catcher, sitting the ballpark of Kendall and Posada.

Longevity has to count for something, though, and Molina’s racked up some impressive counting stats, given his position. His 2,090 career hits are 10th among catchers, sitting above the likes of Johnny Bench, Bill Dickey and Gabby Hartnett. His 397 doubles are seventh and he has a shot to get to third (Mauer is currently third with 428). With 983 RBI, he’s 17 away from becoming the 15th catcher to get to 1,000.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 29, 2021 at 06:47 PM | 244 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, yadier molina

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   1. Brian C Posted: August 29, 2021 at 07:28 PM (#6037013)
Longevity has to count for something, though

Seems like this argument didn't help perception of Palmeiro's Hall chances a whole lot even before all the steroids stuff. And being 20th in WAR despite the longevity doesn't seem like a big positive argument for the longevity.

Seems like the "perplexing" thing about his case is that the numbers aren't there but people want to vote for him anyway. So we get the talk about "IT factor" and whatnot. IOW the same way that, say, Andre Dawson's HoF case was perplexing - "we like him so let's just make up a reason to vote for him."

Which, fair enough. I'm not a small-Hall guy myself so I don't mind if widely respected players get in from time to time even if they don't quite measure up, and I do think his 10 ASG appearances are a fair and accurate measure of how he was viewed by his contemporaries. But it's kind of funny watching people tie themselves up in knots trying to justify it.

   2. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 29, 2021 at 07:49 PM (#6037018)
To me, Molina’s case rests on your view of framing metrics. If you buy them whole hog, he’s an easy yes. If you buy them at about 50%, he’seasily over the line. I take framing metrics at 33%*, and and i have Molina over my theoretical in/out line. Framing helps him a lot.

*Just my opinion, but I figure that framing involves three parties: pitcher, catcher, umpire. I don’t know how much each contributes, so I give catchers a third of the framing value.

   3. The Duke Posted: August 29, 2021 at 07:57 PM (#6037020)
I’ve heard the arguments ad nauseum about his special sauce and articles like this often refer to players who are in awe of him. I’m ok with a non-math based answer but for once I would love to hear 10-15 players talk about, in specifics, what the special sauce is. I’m just curious why they are in awe. Mostly it would really help me understand what it is other players most value in a catcher.

Jomboy showed a video of Molina calling a home run for dexter Fowler just as the pitcher went into his windup - it kinda showed his ability to know pitch sequencing but I’d love to hear other examples and how they help the team win.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: August 29, 2021 at 08:52 PM (#6037024)
#1: Dawson doesn't seem the right comp to me -- he's at least borderline by the numbers (65 WAR, >1500 RBI, >400 HR with >300 SB, etc.) and has a MVP (deserved or not), GGs, ASGs. Puckett, Morris, Tony Perez, Vizquel are the better comps of numbers vs rep I think.

Or Concepcion -- Concepcion pretty clearly the best SS of his "generation" but it was a generation of pretty uninspiring SS. Depending on how you define a baseball "generation", Yadi is probably somewhere first to third (Posey, Mauer). Mauer would be outstanding of course if he had more time at C (<900 starts) ... but with more time at C he'd proabably be around 70-75 WAR and it would be obvious. We'll have to see how Posey ages -- it didn't look good until this year.

Of course it's possible that Yadi is the Ozzie of Cs and should easily sail in. I'd rather have him in than Morris or Vizquel and any number of VC selections over the years, I'd have to think about Puckett.
   5. cardsfanboy Posted: August 29, 2021 at 09:06 PM (#6037027)
I’ve heard the arguments ad nauseum about his special sauce and articles like this often refer to players who are in awe of him. I’m ok with a non-math based answer but for once I would love to hear 10-15 players talk about, in specifics, what the special sauce is. I’m just curious why they are in awe. Mostly it would really help me understand what it is other players most value in a catcher.


I literally have a Cardinals magazine sitting next to me right now that has snippets of comments from 12 different pitchers, plus some guy named Johnny Bench that talks about Molina's special sauce. Yes it's selective, but the point is that guys like Carpenter, Westbrook, Lohse all talk about how Yadier was the best, guys like Lynn talk about how when he went to a new team, everyone was asking how it was to pitch to Yadier.... There is something to that smoke.
   6. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 29, 2021 at 10:18 PM (#6037040)
Bob Boone played forever (retired #1 all time in games caught, still 3rd, and Molina at #4 won't pass him next year), had a great defensive rep, has a similar number of Gold Gloves (Molina 9, Boone 7 as a direct contemporary of Bench and Carter), threw out 40% of career base stealers same as Molina, and has post-season heroics (batted .412 starting every game in the 1980 World Series win over KC).

Boone debuted on the 1996 HoF ballot drawing 7.7% of the vote and dropped every year until falling below the 5% threshold in 2000 at 4.2%.

How much better is Yadier Molina than Bob Boone?
   7. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: August 29, 2021 at 10:25 PM (#6037044)
A lot. C'mon bruh.
   8. Brian C Posted: August 29, 2021 at 10:37 PM (#6037046)
#1: Dawson doesn't seem the right comp to me -- he's at least borderline by the numbers (65 WAR, >1500 RBI, >400 HR with >300 SB, etc.) and has a MVP (deserved or not), GGs, ASGs. Puckett, Morris, Tony Perez, Vizquel are the better comps of numbers vs rep I think.

Yeah, I didn't mean it as a direct comp - being a Cubs fan, Dawson was just the first person who came to mind as someone whose defenders relied a lot on "intangibles" to make their case.
To me, Molina’s case rests on your view of framing metrics. If you buy them whole hog, he’s an easy yes. If you buy them at about 50%, he’seasily over the line. I take framing metrics at 33%*, and and i have Molina over my theoretical in/out line. Framing helps him a lot.

I put zero weight on framing metrics - even if we accept that his pitch framing abilities make him more valuable than his numbers otherwise suggest, you can't say that those abilities make him an "easy yes" because you can't compare those abilities across eras.
   9. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 10:23 AM (#6037090)
Got anything else, bruh? Boone is also the 4th most similar player to Molina per bbref, and none of Molina's top three (Pierogi, Santiago, Kendall) are getting into the plaque room either. Molina does have a couple of offense-first outer-ring HoF catchers farther down in his 10 most similar list (Lombardi, Hartnett), but then Boone has a couple of minor HoF catchers (Lopez, Ferrell) in his top 10 list too.

I'm perfectly willing to entertain arguments that Molina has a better case than Boone, but it takes a lot of that special sauce (aka "bullshit") to move the needle for me from single-digit HoF voting to sure-fire Hall of Famer.
   10. kubiwan Posted: August 30, 2021 at 10:52 AM (#6037099)
How much better is Yadier Molina than Bob Boone?


By some amazing coincidence, Molina and Boone have almost the exact same number of PAs (Molina has a lead of 48, or less than 1%). Boone's OPS+ was 82 and B-R "credits" him with -183 batting runs above average. Molina's OPS+ is 97 and his batting runs total is only -31.

Even if you assume they are equal defensively, that is a VERY big gap, and the contemporaries of each thought so as well: Boone made 4 All-Star games and has 0.03 MVP shares, while Molina is at 10 and 1.07, respectively.
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 11:14 AM (#6037103)
Molina's OPS+ is 97 and heading down. The only HoF C's below that are Rick Farrell (95), who's widely viewed as a mistake, and Ray Schalk (83).
   12. salvomania Posted: August 30, 2021 at 11:23 AM (#6037108)
His 397 doubles are seventh and he has a shot to get to third (Mauer is currently third with 428).


Joe Mauer is not third in doubles as a catcher. He is 35th.

Joe Mauer should be a different conversation. He started 858 games at catcher, 889 games at other positions (including DH).

Molina has started 2019 games at catcher, 9 games elsewhere. That right there is a part of his case for the HoF.

I also think the "one team" thing (unlike Boone, AJ, et al) is part of the appeal for some. It is the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Best Statistics, and playing 19 years at catcher for a very successful franchise immediately makes Molina an outlier and something special.
   13. GregD Posted: August 30, 2021 at 11:25 AM (#6037110)
Molina's OPS+ is 97 and heading down. The only HoF C's below that are Rick Farrell (95), who's widely viewed as a mistake, and Ray Schalk (83).


If the cardinals throw a World Series where Molina is one of the few people refusing the bribes and criticizing his teammates, he will be a shoo in
   14. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 11:37 AM (#6037114)
I don't see any particular reason to put any weight on framing metrics, as it seems less like a skill than like something nearly anybody can be coached into doing, but nobody thought to do it until not that long ago. Also, if you think framing can magically add like 15 wins to a good-not-great resumé, you must think an awful lot of framing.

Anyway, there's nothing perplexing about Molina. He's an obvious no. He's better than Boone, but "better than Bob Boone" is not the standard for the hall of fame, even if you're a big hall guy.
   15. greenback used to say live and let live Posted: August 30, 2021 at 11:49 AM (#6037118)
I don't see any particular reason to put any weight on framing metrics, as it seems less like a skill than like something nearly anybody can be coached into doing, but nobody thought to do it until not that long ago.

I don't put a lot of faith in framing metrics, and the lack of numbers prior to 2008 is important, but (1) the idea that teams weren't thinking about framing pitches from the dawn of time is weird, as is (2) the notion that some quantity labeled as innovation is less meaningful than some quantity labeled as skill. This sounds something like Ray would say.
   16. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 11:52 AM (#6037120)
A lot of the robo-ump cards show that umpires get 92-95% of ball/strike calls right, so its hard for me to see framing as having that big of an impact. I'm sure it has SOME impact, perhaps more than gunning down runners, but like a guy like Salvador Perez who is a terrible framer according to the metrics, it almost seems like it outweighs all the gains from his bat, which seems ridiculous to me.
   17. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 12:32 PM (#6037128)
By some amazing coincidence, Molina and Boone have almost the exact same number of PAs (Molina has a lead of 48, or less than 1%). Boone's OPS+ was 82 and B-R "credits" him with -183 batting runs above average. Molina's OPS+ is 97 and his batting runs total is only -31.

And -183 - (-31) = -152 and divide by 10 and so -- back of the envelope calculation -- Molina is about 15 wins more valuable than Boone, which -- again by amazing coincidence -- is pretty much the amount of bbref WAR Molina has (41.8) over Boone (27.4). That lead vaults Molina up the WAR leaderboard from 992 (Boone) all the way up to #489 in a tie with other non-Hofers Kid Gleason, Sam McDowell, and Ken Singleton. Putting Molina in the middle of my monitor screen and seeing what other catchers are in his immediate vicinity, I get Posada (42.7), Campanella (41.7 and would certainly be much higher if he weren't playing in the Negro Leagues until his age-26 season), Kendall (41.7), Porter (40.8), and Sundberg (40.5).

Campanella aside, these aren't marginal Hall of Famers or even guys who hung around on the ballot for years with decent vote totals. The best HoF showing is Posada's one-and-done ballot at 3.8% in 2017. The numbers just aren't there. The entirety of Molina's case is myth-making and hagiography, and those are always the worst kinds of cases. I would expect The Best Fans in Baseball to know better.
   18. The Duke Posted: August 30, 2021 at 12:44 PM (#6037130)
I think the myth-making goes way beyond the BFIB. It’s uttered by every serious writer and one would have to assume their opinion is bolstered by their discussions over the years with opposing players, coaches and managers. I just want for someone to point me to some specific examples of this - there must be examples of where he moved fielders around or sequenced pitches to get a desired result, etc that players could cite. Early In his career he was electric at picking runners off base at critical times. So that’s visible. But it seems that mostly disappeared when Pujols left - so was that Pujols or Molina ?
   19. Howie Menckel Posted: August 30, 2021 at 12:47 PM (#6037134)
There are two very separate issues with Molina, and other players like this - WILL he get in, and SHOULD he get in.

he WILL - and quickly - and we know the narrative that gets him there.

SHOULD? ok, there is meat on that bone.
   20. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 30, 2021 at 02:00 PM (#6037148)
Molina and Boone have almost the exact same number of PAs (Molina has a lead of 48, or less than 1%). Boone's OPS+ was 82 and B-R "credits" him with -183 batting runs above average. Molina's OPS+ is 97 and his batting runs total is only -31.
If a gap of 17 points of OPS+ & 152 of RBat makes a Hall of Fame catcher, perhaps folks should take another look at Jorge Posada, who had a 121 OPS+ & 204 RBat, both of which exceed Molina by a far greater margin than Molina exceeds Boone.

Again, as was noted in the recent Bill Freehan thread, the Hall is overdue for a proper positional adjustment for catchers, and there may be a case for Molina, but Hall voters shouldn’t focus on criteria that may only aid him while ignoring other catchers who were spurned for not putting up the numbers associated with less arduous positions. The various Veterans Committees should make a concerted effort on this.

   21. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 02:08 PM (#6037150)
I am kinda surprised Posada didn't get a longer look than he did, tbh.
   22. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 02:08 PM (#6037151)
Again, as was noted in the recent Bill Freehan thread, the Hall is overdue for a proper positional adjustment for catchers, and there may be a case for Molina, but Hall voters shouldn’t focus on criteria that may only aid him while ignoring other catchers who were spurned

Correct. Freehan and Munson both belong before Molina. Much better hitters, and they had serious defensive reps too.
   23. Darren Posted: August 30, 2021 at 02:37 PM (#6037163)
A lot of the robo-ump cards show that umpires get 92-95% of ball/strike calls right, so its hard for me to see framing as having that big of an impact.


I totally understand skepticism about who to attribute framing to, but as far as seeming the impact of framing, doesn't Fangraphs' framing stat do a pretty good job of showing its impact?

I also disagree with the notion that because we don't have framing stats that go back to earlier players, that we should ignore them. We have more info now than we used to, why not consider it? (Again, not arguing that this means that we credit the catchers for all or even most of it.)
   24. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 02:41 PM (#6037165)
I also disagree with the notion that because we don't have framing stats that go back to earlier players, that we should ignore them. We have more info now than we used to, why not consider it?

The problem is how can you give Molina 15 wins credit and elect him, while earlier guys with similar defensive reps get no bonus, and are stuck on the outside. Even if you give Molina full credit for FG WAR framing, he's borderline for a modern C.
   25. The Duke Posted: August 30, 2021 at 02:48 PM (#6037167)
Freehan and Munson are in a different state of play. They have to make it through a vets process whereas Molina will be a writers decision. Arguably a quick Molina induction along with the recent Simmons induction would do more for Freehan than anything else. Munson, I think suffers from the incorrect assumption that his numbers are incomplete. In reality he’s a pretty good candidate. I already think he will get in at some point. Freehan is in much more need of help.
   26. Jay Seaver Posted: August 30, 2021 at 02:52 PM (#6037169)
The problem is how can you give Molina 15 wins credit and elect him, while earlier guys with similar defensive reps get no bonus, and are stuck on the outside.


By and large, the people who will be voting on Molina won't be voting on those earlier guys at the same time. You do the best you can with the tools you have, rather than hold someone like Molina to outdated standards (and then, I guess, hope that his election makes for useful discussion among the various era committees).
   27. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: August 30, 2021 at 02:53 PM (#6037170)
Objectively I think his case is questionable, but unlike Freehan and some of the others mentioned Molina gets discussed as possibly the greatest defensive catcher ever. That may or may not be true. But if he's perceived as the best or second-best defender ever at a critical position, then I think his HOF comps are more Ozzie and Brooks than Thurman and Boone.
   28. Brian C Posted: August 30, 2021 at 02:56 PM (#6037172)
I also disagree with the notion that because we don't have framing stats that go back to earlier players, that we should ignore them. We have more info now than we used to, why not consider it? (Again, not arguing that this means that we credit the catchers for all or even most of it.)

For the extremely obvious reason that we can't really contextualize that additional info in any meaningful way.
   29. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 30, 2021 at 02:57 PM (#6037175)
Framing has a potentially dramatic impact on the cases of not only Molina but also Russell Martin, Brian McCann, and Posada. Positively in the case of the first two, negatively in the case of Posada.

I suspect that Posada’s defensive reputation was poor. And honestly, framing and defensive metrics tend to agree. The 120 OPS+ puts him into the conversation, the rings help too, but the defense seems to keep him from sticking. At least that’s my view of his candidacy. No one ever said he was a good catcher, not even John Sterling. (Well, at least in the few first few years of Posada’s career when I heard Sterling regularly.)
   30. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 02:59 PM (#6037176)
Objectively I think his case is questionable, but unlike Freehan and some of the others mentioned Molina gets discussed as possibly the greatest defensive catcher ever.

What is that based on? I mean Yogi Berra had phenomenal success with a bunch of mostly no-name SPs, and Whitey Ford. I don't remember a lot of starters becoming stars under Yadi's watch.

It seems like his defensive rep is mostly based on his team being good, and him being a bad hitter.
   31. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 03:00 PM (#6037178)
For the extremely obvious reason that we can't really contextualize that additional info in any meaningful way.

Ding, ding, ding.
   32. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 03:11 PM (#6037183)
Molina gets discussed as possibly the greatest defensive catcher ever.

By anyone other than Cardinals fanboys? (Using the term generically.... not specifically calling out cfb with this comment.)
   33. Darren Posted: August 30, 2021 at 03:44 PM (#6037192)
By anyone other than Cardinals fanboys? (Using the term generically.... not specifically calling out cfb with this comment.)


Gold Glove voters seem convinced he's in the running.
   34. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: August 30, 2021 at 03:47 PM (#6037193)
Objectively I think his case is questionable, but unlike Freehan and some of the others mentioned Molina gets discussed as possibly the greatest defensive catcher ever.

What is that based on? I mean Yogi Berra had phenomenal success with a bunch of mostly no-name SPs, and Whitey Ford. I don't remember a lot of starters becoming stars under Yadi's watch.


TV broadcasts, media comments. I was talking more about strictly defensive skills (preventing passed balls, CS%, etc.), not pitcher handling, but he's been good at that too. Since 2005 the Cardinals have the 2nd best ERA in the NL.
   35. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 04:14 PM (#6037202)
Gold Glove voters seem convinced he's in the running.


Gold Glove voters also gave the award to Raffy Palmeiro in a year in which he played fewer than 30 games in the field.
   36. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 04:18 PM (#6037204)
Since 2005 the Cardinals have the 2nd best ERA in the NL.

That's just another way of saying the team has been good.

In his years as the starting C, StL has had a team ERA+ of 106. In Jorge Posada's years as the Yankees starting C they had an ERA+ of 106.

Yet one is the greatest glove of all time, and the other is the hackiest hack. Funny.
   37. bartap74 Posted: August 30, 2021 at 04:22 PM (#6037208)
If Molina is considered the second best catcher ever, who's third? Bench or Pudge Rodriguez? Seems to me both have a claim to the top spot.
   38. Howie Menckel Posted: August 30, 2021 at 04:28 PM (#6037209)
in real time 2008, HOM rated the best catchers elected by that point.

Gibson got all 27 first-place votes, Bench got 21 seconds, Berra got 19 thirds, and Carter got 10 fourths.

after that was a donnybrook among Fisk, Dickey, Hartnett, Cochrane, BEwing, Campanella, and DWhite all compiling 371 to 318 points. Santop beat Simmons for 12th, and the rest...
   39. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 04:32 PM (#6037211)
Gibson got all 27 first-place votes, Bench got 21 seconds, Berra got 19 thirds

It's one of those three. We probably don't have enough information to say which one. How much credit does Berra get for the Yankees pitching? How would longer seasons have affected Gibson's bat? It's all unknowable.
   40. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: August 30, 2021 at 04:44 PM (#6037214)
In his years as the starting C, StL has had a team ERA+ of 106. In Jorge Posada's years as the Yankees starting C they had an ERA+ of 106.

Yet one is the greatest glove of all time, and the other is the hackiest hack. Funny.

Come on, the Yankees had much more star power on the mound in Posada's years. Clemens, Pettitte, Cone, Mussina, Sabathia, etc, etc. Plus the greatest closer of all time. The Cardinals had Carpenter, Wainwright, and a lot of Kyle Lohse types.
   41. SoSH U at work Posted: August 30, 2021 at 04:45 PM (#6037216)
In his years as the starting C, StL has had a team ERA+ of 106. In Jorge Posada's years as the Yankees starting C they had an ERA+ of 106.

Yet one is the greatest glove of all time, and the other is the hackiest hack. Funny.


This is inane. Jorge Posada had a number of historically great or near-great pitchers to work with, virtually all of whom were better elsewhere (Mussina, Johnson, Clemens, Pettitte, Brown, Cone, Wells, Rogers, Vazquez).
At least two prominent starting pitchers (Johnson and Burnett) didn't want him catching them.

Molina's had approximately two pitchers who enjoyed long-term success (both exclusively with the Cards - one was pretty bad before he got to St. Loo), and a bunch of guys who typically scuffled outside St. Louis. The only guy I can think of who threw meaningfully better after leaving the club is Lance Lynn.

Jorge Posada's shitty and Yadier Molina's excellent defensive reputations are well-earned.

Edit: Coke to Steve.
   42. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 04:47 PM (#6037218)
Gold Glove voters also gave the award to Raffy Palmeiro in a year in which he played fewer than 30 games in the field.

Derek Jeter was awarded 5 Gold Gloves for seasons where his rField values were -13, -27, -16, +3, and -9.

But that's not all.... interested parties should check out the last of his Awards in the leaderboards on his bbref page. I had no idea.
   43. DL from MN Posted: August 30, 2021 at 04:48 PM (#6037219)
Biz Mackey is probably the best Hall of Fame comparable to Yadier Molina. Defense-first catcher who played forever. When he was elected there wasn't much information about his bat as there is now. Even Biz Mackey looks like he has more bat than Yadi Molina.
   44. salvomania Posted: August 30, 2021 at 05:14 PM (#6037233)
I think many the comments about Molina's statistical portfolio are missing a huge part of why he will get votes, and that's the narrative.

No player has ever been their team's starting catcher for 18 seasons. Throw in that the catcher is---rightly or wrongly--often lionized as the "field general," and that Molina has "led" "his" team to 11 postseasons and two World Series Championships, then all of a sudden, with everything else, it gets easier to see how he sails in.

When he retires, he'll rank about 25th on the all-time list of games played among single-franchise players, almost all of whom are Hall of Famers. The only non-HoFers ahead of him would be middle infielders Dave Concepcion, Lou Whitaker (whom many argue should be in), and Frank White.
   45. Howie Menckel Posted: August 30, 2021 at 05:21 PM (#6037238)
list in post 38 has Mackey 20th of the 20th who had been elected at that point in real time.
   46. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 05:31 PM (#6037242)
Jorge Posada's shitty and Yadier Molina's excellent defensive reputations are well-earned.

My point was simply that their teams' ERA gives you no information on that score.
   47. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 06:17 PM (#6037261)
No player has ever been their team's starting catcher for 18 seasons.

Back to Boone, he was his team's primary catcher for 17 seasons. Is there something so hallowed about that one additional season to be the difference between a player getting 5% of HoF vote and 75%?

The 11 playoffs Molina led the Cards to include 3 seasons where they squeaked in by being the best runner-up, an option not available to Boone. Still Molina's one additional division championship and one additional World Series ring, to me, don't close the gap from 5% of the vote to 75%.
   48. salvomania Posted: August 30, 2021 at 06:17 PM (#6037262)
I think many the comments about Molina's statistical portfolio are missing a huge part of why he will get votes, and that's the narrative.

To reply to my own comment, let's say there was a catcher with a statistical profile similar to Molina's who played 5-6 years with his first team, and then spent the next dozen years playing for a succession of teams, and made the postseason four times over his career but never won a WS... then we're not having this conversation.

The case for Molina isn't, and never has been purely statistical. For the typical HoF voter I imagine there are other components besides stats, and it's this other area---for better of for worse---that is going to get Molina into the HoF. That is, the "Hall of Fame." Not the Hall of Best Statistics.
   49. salvomania Posted: August 30, 2021 at 06:20 PM (#6037263)
No player has ever been their team's starting catcher for 18 seasons.

I meant for a single franchise. My point was that an aura builds around a single-franchise player that doesn't exist for a guy with similar stats who plays for multiple teams. It's part of the "fame" component, and fair or not, it's a real thing, and I believe it makes a difference when considering the narrative of a player's career.
   50. SoSH U at work Posted: August 30, 2021 at 06:37 PM (#6037266)
I'd vote for Molina. By bWAR, he's low, but not absurdly so. By fWAR, he's clearly qualified. When there's a large gap between the two, I tend to slot guys in somewhere in the middle. Given the other stuff (the one constant on a great period of Cardinals teams, teams [and pitching staffs] that seem to overperform their talent) and I'm comfortable with the idea that his contributions aren't being fully accounted for by bWAR. OTOH, I wouldn't oppose a neck tat penalty.

As for framing, it's not like it's a Yadi bonus. Posada could have added to his case, but like most aspects of catcher defense, he was bad at it. Even a catcher with a good defensive rep, Salvy Perez, is not helped by the metric. There's no guarantee Freehan or Munson would have been positive on the count.

   51. SoSH U at work Posted: August 30, 2021 at 06:47 PM (#6037270)
FWIW, I'd also like to see Freehan and Munson elected. But they're not being compared by the same group of voters, so the idea that other players have to wait until they get in doesn't work for me.

   52. Walt Davis Posted: August 30, 2021 at 06:57 PM (#6037276)
The only non-HoFers ahead of him would be middle infielders Dave Concepcion, Lou Whitaker (whom many argue should be in), and Frank White.

Three very Molina-like players. Concepcion had 40 bWAR on -120 Rbat and 21 dWAR while winning 5 GG, 9 AS games, some MVP votes even finishing 4th in the split 81 season. White had 35 WAR with -145 Rbat, 22 dWAR, 8 GG, 5 AS (no MPV). Molina has 42 WAR on -30 Rbat, 26 dWAR, 9 GG, 10 AS, MVP 3rd and 4th. Because he's a C he's still 200+ PA behind White and 1500 PA behind Concepcion. Whitaker is of course way out in front mainly because he could hit (+210 Rbat) and he had the longest career.

For the record, I think being a single team player should have ZERO influence on HoF voting. Completely ridiculous and absolutely meaningless both in comparison to a non-single team player and for defining a comparison group. It's doubly ridiculous for FA-era players.

Anyway, Molina is a very good player who has proven extremely durable with little/no decline. That's impressive but as Concepcion, White (both Frank and Devon), Whitaker, Lofton and many others show, that's rarely considered good enough for HoF voters. You really need to make the case that he's Ozzie or at least Aparicio or leave him to be the next VC Maz. (My answer on that is I have no real idea. My impression is that he's not as good as Bench, Carter or Pudge II but it's not like I saw any of those three enough to really judge and of course no framing numbers for those three. But I never saw anybody close to Ozzie so I can't put Molina in that class. Given that uncertainty, I can't see a good argument for Molina over Freehan and Munson but of course that's not quite the question we're being asked.)

And once again, the purpose of a Hall of Fame is to confer fame, not confirm it. The absurdity of establishing an honor to recognize fame should be obvious -- if your fame requires validation, you aren't famous. Leave that argument to tourist traps like the Hollywood stars in the sidewalk which are trying to leech off of the fame of others. If you want to lump the baseball HoF in with that, that's fine but recognize that it's no longer an "honor" (and not really a topic worth debating).
   53. The Duke Posted: August 30, 2021 at 07:12 PM (#6037279)
Molina’s post-season exploits are perhaps a bit different than others. He was the leader of a number of teams that all had very different players. So he has three NLCS appearances in 2004, 5,6 where it’s rolen/edmonds/Pujols leading the charge. Then he has the 2011 Series win which is both Pujols and TLR’s finale with the Cards but where Berkman plays a huge role. Then the team goes on an incredible streak of 2012-2014 where Matheny is now managing and berkman/Beltran are the stars. And then improbably they get back in 2019 with another mediocre team.

His World Series appearances during this period are 2004, 2006, 2011, 2013. So he hasn’t just ridden one horse to the top. The teams have been very different. The other point is that the pitching staffs are decidedly “meh”. They’ve got a couple good seasons of wainwright and Chris carpenters peak. Not much else to speak of. Basically no pitching hall of famers at any point of Yadi’s career and yet they still won a lot.

   54. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 07:36 PM (#6037286)
why can't Molina comp be Lou Brock? Who's quite a bit light on WAR for a HoFer but who's narrative is very strong. A key player for 3 pennant winners, maybe the key player. Doesnt Molina fit into that sort of mold?

Also if you carry your "Concepcion Theory" to its logical limit then you would be forced to conclude that baseball doesnt put the same effort into finding talent at C as it does at every other spot in the lineup. Because you've got like what only 8 catchers with 55 lifetime WAR? Was it? Does that really make any sense?

A more logical conclusion is that defensive metrics simply undercount the value of C defense and probably the other central defensive roles as well. It just doesnt make sense that teams would simply punt the C position any more than they were "punting" the SS position in the 70s and 80s and 60s.

Also Concepcion is bad example cause he's not the best SS of that time period. Its Campaneris and he seems to be far ahead of Concepcion. Belanger I've got right on the borderline as HoFer; with Campaneris a small but distinct cut above the borderline. Even Yount had a better career at Ss than Concepcion.

The problem with adding more defensive value to Cs, is that you cannot simply give everyone an all around 10 WAR boost or whatever. Bad defensive C like Posada are probably being under counted in how bad they are just as Molina is probably under counted in how good he is. One reason is that if you don't re weight catchers in a symmetrical fashion than you are forced to take WAR from other positions such as P, which doesnt seem to work either in theory or reality.

So for all the Molinas and Benchs out there who need a WAR boost there are Piazzas and Posadas that will also have to give back more WAR on defense. I cannot put any sort of number on it as Ive never studied this aspect. Im focused now on infielders and outfielders.

SO there's a number of arguments above that seem to be a bit off because you're comparing bad def. Cs with good def Cs; or average def Cs with great def. Cs. You have to give more credit to the better defenders

Well you don't have to. You can just pretend that for some reason no one in MLB wants to put the same effort into finding good C talent.
   55. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 07:54 PM (#6037288)

It's one of those three. We probably don't have enough information to say which one. How much credit does Berra get for the Yankees pitching? How would longer seasons have affected Gibson's bat? It's all unknowable.


ONe of the problems with evaluating NgLe talent is that for all their hitting prowess, werent NeL teams quite shallow in terms of pitching depth? HOw many front line starters did a team carry? How many relievers? Not so sure we can just pencil in 50 HRs for Josh Gibson in mythical integrated league.

Molina gets discussed as possibly the greatest defensive catcher ever.

By anyone other than Cardinals fanboys?


This is kind of unfair. Its been shown with objective stats that Molina has shut down opponents running game to an insane degree throughout the entirety of his career. There's objective data to show his defensive prowess. I dont know if he's as good as peak Johnny Bench but Molina is way up there defensively.

For the extremely obvious reason that we can't really contextualize that additional info in any meaningful way.


Brian: what does this even mean? They can measure catcher framing. Some of them are saying its worth 2 WAR or more a year. I might not buY it and you may not buy that. But apparently its measureable,

So what are you saying here? what does "contextualize" mean? I think everyone here knows the context of 2 WAR/season.


A lot of the robo-ump cards show that umpires get 92-95% of ball/strike calls right, so its hard for me to see framing as having that big of an impact.


THis is some non sensical math right here. Whats the value of turning a ball into a strike? Well presumably a ball is worth .075 runs (.30 divide by 4) and a strike is worth .08 runs (.23 divide by 3). SO presumably turning a ball into a strike should be worth .15 runs.

If you did that 8x a game that would be 1.2 runs/game.

Well that doesnt make a lot of sense. BUT NEITHER DOES SAYING 95% CORRECT CALLS SOMEHOW MEANS FRAMING IS NEGLIGBLE.

If you could turn one ball into a strike once a game on a consistent basis. Say for sake of argument that one event occurs at an important time say with a man in scoring position. If you could do that once a game, that's 2 WAR a year. One stolen ball.



   56. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: August 30, 2021 at 09:17 PM (#6037302)
ONe of the problems with evaluating NgLe talent is that for all their hitting prowess, werent NeL teams quite shallow in terms of pitching depth? HOw many front line starters did a team carry? How many relievers? Not so sure we can just pencil in 50 HRs for Josh Gibson in mythical integrated league.

Now, the marginal Negro Leagues players - the Bob Clarkes - those guys were probably pretty bad, and certainly the good players padded their stats to some extent by beating up on the guys at the end of the bench.

But one of the things I like about the BBREF additions is that now we can see: Gibson was the best hitter in the league every year ages 21-27, and then again ages 30-34, all while playing what looks like pretty good defense at catcher. I mean, that is a lot of black ink: twelve seasons as a regular, led the league in OPS+ nine times, nearly every offensive category at some point.
He might not lead a mythical integrated league in HR every year (as he did the NNL), and maybe not all of his homers were 500+ feet, but we know top NNL talent was really good, and Gibson was the best hitter amongst all of them for a long time. (and the NeL "short seasons" are tricky, because those guys were playing all the time, even if it wasn't official league games - barnstorming, exhbitions, etc.)
   57. The Honorable Ardo Posted: August 30, 2021 at 09:38 PM (#6037306)
I think Molina is a Hall of Famer. He got a lot of playing time before age 24, which is rare for a catcher. In the 2006 postseason, he hit .359 for the World Champions. Since then, his regular season OPS+ is 102. He's way better than Ferrell even if you ignore league quality.

Ivan Rodriguez is the greatest defensive catcher of all time; nevertheless, Molina is very close. Biz Mackey is a really strong historical comp and the Hall of Merit took him in easily.

For what it's worth, I've rooted for the Tigers, Cubs, and Brewers. Yadier has always been the enemy. I want to say he's not qualified, but I keep reluctantly concluding that he is.
   58. T.J. Posted: August 30, 2021 at 10:40 PM (#6037319)
When he retires, he'll rank about 25th on the all-time list of games played among single-franchise players, almost all of whom are Hall of Famers.
There are a lot of qualifiers here for something that ought to be pretty irrelevant anyway.
   59. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 11:10 PM (#6037322)
In the 2006 postseason, he hit .359 for the World Champions


And in 2006 I was dating a girl who was way out of my league. So what?
   60. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 30, 2021 at 11:27 PM (#6037325)
Molina’s post-season exploits are perhaps a bit different than others.
Don’t see how the postseason adds much, if anything, to Molina’s Hall of Fame case - he has a .699 postseason OPS. Thurman Munson hit .357/.378/.496 for an .874 postseason OPS, although it didn’t seem to influence the Hall voters much.
   61. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: August 30, 2021 at 11:40 PM (#6037327)

And once again, the purpose of a Hall of Fame is to confer fame, not confirm it.


If we're going by original purpose, the purpose of the Baseball Hall of Fame was to recognize the greatest, most inspirational role models in the sport, as it was patterned after the New York Hall of Fame.
   62. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 31, 2021 at 12:18 AM (#6037331)
My point was that an aura builds around a single-franchise player that doesn't exist for a guy with similar stats who plays for multiple teams.

Being a long-time one-franchise player didn't get Jim Gantner into the Hall. Or Frank White. Or Dave Concepcion. Or either Posada or Bernie Williams. Bill Freehan. Mel Harder. Bill Russell. Ed Kranepool. .....
   63. Brian C Posted: August 31, 2021 at 12:49 AM (#6037332)
Brian: what does this even mean? They can measure catcher framing. Some of them are saying its worth 2 WAR or more a year. I might not buY it and you may not buy that. But apparently its measureable,

So what are you saying here? what does "contextualize" mean? I think everyone here knows the context of 2 WAR/season.

"Context" meaning context. 2 WAR/season is not context. That is the stat - it is not putting the stat into context.

We only have data for framing going back less than 15 years, so how can we put that in any kind of historical perspective? The catchers of the past, how do they rank? And likewise, where does Molina rank amongst them?

Folks up thread were pointing out that fWAR makes Molina a pretty clear HoFer. But that makes no sense, because fWAR doesn't include framing for catchers before 2008. So we have no idea where Molina would rank if the others got framing data included in their fWAR. It's completely pointless to compare fWAR for catchers across eras, because of context.
Being a long-time one-franchise player didn't get Jim Gantner into the Hall. Or Frank White. Or Dave Concepcion. Or either Posada or Bernie Williams. Bill Freehan. Mel Harder. Bill Russell. Ed Kranepool. .....

I think it's fair to say that an aura builds around a single-franchise player for fans of that franchise. It can be hard to step outside of one's own fandom, though, to see that fans of others teams don't see that same aura.
   64. SoSH U at work Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:49 AM (#6037339)
So we have no idea where Molina would rank if the others got framing data included in their fWAR. It's completely pointless to compare fWAR for catchers across eras, because of context.


Again, this makes it sound like framing data is just a positive. It isn't. Freehan and Munson aren't necessarily being penalized; it's just not part of the record. And surely this isn't the only area where this issue exists. There are obviously other players for whom more defensive data is available, but we don't automatically dismiss the newer data, or comparisons between today's players and older ones, just because it wasn't around when Tris Speaker was playing.

Moreover, Munson comes in at 40 fWAR compared to 46 bWAR, so there's clearly more to it than just framing.

As for framing data, Molina had more opportunities to distinguish himself than those guys did, yes. He also had more opportunities to see his case look weaker, the way Posada's does. I think ignoring the data altogether because it doesn't exist for people who aren't actually on a ballot with him isn't really a sound approach.

   65. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 31, 2021 at 03:16 AM (#6037342)

He might not lead a mythical integrated league in HR every year (as he did the NNL), and maybe not all of his homers were 500+ feet, but we know top NNL talent was really good, and Gibson was the best hitter amongst all of them for a long time.


Well for more recent NgLers like Luke Easter or Elston Howard we do have players that played in both leagues so we can start to make comparisons. But for guys in the 1930s is there anything like that? other than a handful of exhibition games.

I mean front line pitching in 1930s Negro league ball had to be extremely thin, Im assuming.
   66. DL from MN Posted: August 31, 2021 at 09:15 AM (#6037354)
I mean front line pitching in 1930s Negro league ball had to be extremely thin, Im assuming.


Like most of NGL baseball the answer is complicated. There probably weren't as many pitchers with a good fastball in the Negro Leagues of the 1930s as there were in the AL/NL. If you look at the descriptions of NGL pitchers in the encyclopedias the ones with a good fastball often ended up with a nickname like Bullet or Cannon Ball. However, the spitter was legal so the offspeed stuff was every bit as nasty as in white baseball. Looking over the top performing 1930s pitchers in NGL baseball there are several who probably threw their fastball in the mid to upper 80s but had a spitball that did most of the work getting batters out. It was a dead ball / breaking ball league.

Josh Gibson could hit a fastball.
   67. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 31, 2021 at 09:21 AM (#6037357)
Any idea of how many relievers those teams were carrying? I'm guessing very few. Hence a lot of tiring pitchers
   68. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 31, 2021 at 09:34 AM (#6037362)
I mean front line pitching in 1930s Negro league ball had to be extremely thin, Im assuming.

The 1930 National League batted .303; the American League, .288, and eyeballing each season, league batting averages for the decade were around .275-.280. 1930's American and National League pitching wasn't exactly covered in glory either.
   69. Rally Posted: August 31, 2021 at 09:39 AM (#6037363)
The career difference of 15 batting wins between Molina and Boone is one way to look at it. I’ll try another.

Boone had 17 full seasons:

5 were above average at the plate. None were great. His top ops+ was 115

He had 2 seasons where I would describe his offense as “good for a catcher”. Below average, but at least an 80 ops+

In the other 10 he was an offensive liability, Low point was 1984, with an obp of .242, a slug of .262, and 486 plate appearances of that.

Now Molina. 17 full seasons - counting 2020 as full since he played 70% of his team’s games.

7 above average. Including 3 that were well above the best year Boone ever had.

8 that count as good for a catcher, or at least acceptable.

Just 2 seasons where he was a batting liability - his first 2 full seasons.

Once he developed he was either good at the plate, or at least acceptible. Boone, more than half the time, was a liability at the plate.

   70. Ron J Posted: August 31, 2021 at 09:54 AM (#6037366)
#69 Sure. But substantially better than Bob Boone with the bat isn't what I'd call a compelling case.

I think he's likely to go in and that it'll be mostly a narrative case that gets him in.
   71. BDC Posted: August 31, 2021 at 10:14 AM (#6037373)
Elston Howard, mentioned by Sunday Silence, is an interesting comp. Howard just at face value was a bit better peak hitter than Yadier, for a bit longer (133 OPS+ over four years, as opposed to 130 over three for Yadier). And then somewhat better over his whole career (107 to 97). Considered a gifted catcher and handler of pitchers. A shorter career in playing time, but because of the color line, military service, and legitimately just being blocked by Yogi Berra. Narrative, MVP, lots of rings. Not in the HOM, not in the HOF, I guess not likely to be in either. It's hard to see Yadier being a greater ballplayer than Elston Howard, which doesn't take anything away from Yadier; that's pretty good territory.
   72. SoSH U at work Posted: August 31, 2021 at 11:31 AM (#6037384)
It's hard to see Yadier being a greater ballplayer than Elston Howard, which doesn't take anything away from Yadier; that's pretty good territory.


I don't think it's hard to see it. It seems to me you're just looking at this as Howard was a better offensive player, and, well, he had a good defensive rep, so their defensive contributions must be about the same. That's certainly not the only way of looking at it. It shouldn't take much imagination to believe Yadi's defensive contributions outweigh Howard's offensive advantage.

And, for what it's worth, even the non-framing capturing bWAR doesn't see it that way (and on a per 162-game season level, not just cumulatively where Elston loses out).
   73. Ron J Posted: August 31, 2021 at 12:20 PM (#6037390)
#72, sure. But the error on the estimates of catcher defensive value is huge, particularly for Howard's day.

Wonder what a wowy approach would say about Howard compared to Berra.
   74. DL from MN Posted: August 31, 2021 at 12:26 PM (#6037391)
Bill Dickey isn't getting enough love here for his defensive reputation.
   75. Ron J Posted: August 31, 2021 at 12:38 PM (#6037392)
Dickey's interesting. He taught Berra to become a fundamentally sound defensive catcher. But I don't think he had a great defensive rep while active. Certainly Ferrel's case (such as it was) centered around supposedly being the best defensive catcher of the day.

EDIT: Again, since he was semi-platooned (most of his days off were against LHP) for at least part of his career we should have an adequate sample size to do a wowy type of study.
   76. Space Force fan Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:11 PM (#6037403)
I find the pitch framing discussions fascinating. Pitch framing is an umpire's mistake. Why does the catcher deserve credit for that? Do we elect someone to the soccer HOF because they were the best diver? Do we elect someone to the BB HOF because they got away with the most travels? Do we elect an OT to the FB HOF because they got away with the most holds? Fooling the refs in all sports contribute to your team winning, but only in these silly HOF discussions for unqualified catchers do they seem to matter for HOF purposes.

The essential argument from those saying those induct him seems to be that Molina is a HOFer, but if he played in a (future/mythical) robo-ump era he wouldn't be. If his HOF case boils down to having a failable person calling balls and strikes versus a computer, then how strong a case does he have?
   77. SoSH U at work Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:14 PM (#6037405)
Pitch framing is an umpire's mistake.


Not necessarily.
   78. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:23 PM (#6037411)
#76 Ross Barnes disagrees with the drift of your logic. But Bill James might agree with it.
   79. greenback used to say live and let live Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:30 PM (#6037414)
Drawing walks is a function of pitching mistakes. All else equal, the good hitters exploit such mistakes, and the bad ones do not, and consequently we do not ignore such events when evaluating hitters.

Actually, I wish reached-on-errors was considered as a time reaching base in OBP.
   80. Rally Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:45 PM (#6037419)
why can't Molina comp be Lou Brock? Who's quite a bit light on WAR for a HoFer but who's narrative is very strong. A key player for 3 pennant winners, maybe the key player. Doesnt Molina fit into that sort of mold?


Similar WAR, same franchise, world series bonus, sure. But otherwise I can’t think of two more opposite players. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum on speed, and defensive value. Great fielder at a key position vs. poor fielder at an easy position.

As hitters though, the numbers are in the same ballpark, same shape of abilities. Brock hit for 10 more points of BA, which directly translates to 10 more points of obp and slg. So for walks and power, they were about equal. Interesting find: Brock struck out when strikeouts were rare. 9 times over 100. Molina, in a time when every out is a strikeout, has never struck out 100 times. In fact he’s had only one season with over 70 strikeouts.
   81. Srul Itza Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:45 PM (#6037420)
If his HOF case boils down to having a failable person calling balls and strikes versus a computer, then how strong a case does he have?


You judge every player in context. Molina's context was human beings doing what is, in fact, a difficult job, in calling balls and strikes. If he took advantage of that context more than others, than he was more valuable than them.

You don't judge a Hall of Famer only against the very best to ever play the game; they are not all Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Walter Johnson. There is a standard that has been set over time, combining what can be measured and what they meant to the game when they played it. It is not always just WAR. It is not always just narrative.

And there are always going to be "mistakes" -- mistakes of omission and mistakes of commission. Harold Baines in and Whitaker and Grich out.

Of course, one of the problems with these discussions is that a lot of people don't talk about the Hall of Fame that is, but the Hall of Fame that they think it should be. Well, if that is what you want, start your own or buy your own.

In the Hall of Fame that is, I expect Yadier Molina to make it in. Not the best choice, not the worst choice. But it should help fill the stands on induction day.

And as the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce would remind you, isn't that what really counts?
   82. cardsfanboy Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:59 PM (#6037426)
I find the pitch framing discussions fascinating. Pitch framing is an umpire's mistake. Why does the catcher deserve credit for that?


A hung curve ball, is a pitchers mistake, why does the batter who hits it deserve credit for that? The answer is simple, because he took advantage of it and helped his team to a better outcome.

As far as pitch framing and it being the only reason to put Molina in the hof, I don't think anyone who is pushing for that is pushing it as the primary reason, just that it's one thing we have that has a range in value from the bWar to fWar, that shows how a good defensive catcher can distance himself from the pack. As mentioned above, when it comes to allowing steals, teams don't even try on the Cardinals, since Yadier came up. Some of that is the Cardinals approach to steals, but a lot of that is Yadier. So you have a guy who is good at turning a 2-1 count into a 1-2 count, who completely stops other team from running, and contrary to ops+, is and has been an above average hitter relative to his position most of his career, who routinely leads the league in games played at his position. Framing is just one part of the equation, but it's a part that someone has figured out a way to come up with numbers, and those numbers show a value that helps him and a few other catchers improve their "war" score. (Note I don't actually agree with those numbers personally, as it's a stat based upon a per pitch result, and is being incorporated into a stat that is mostly about a per pa/safe/out result and it's easy for that to be misleading, but it doesn't change my opinion that it is a skill that some players take advantage of and that others didn't and it adds value as it makes the pitchers job easier.)

I'm staying mostly out of this, but I think Yadier is going into the hof pretty easily and very likely, even though I'm in the camp that states that narrative candidates often see their case diminished with the five year wait. And regardless of how much faith you have in pitch framing and fWar, Yadier case is a narrative case ultimately to get him over the line. Would I put him in? More than likely yes, and yes before Posada, not sure about before Freehan or Munson, but that isn't what the voters are being asked to do, they are just voting whether or not they think he's worthy.
   83. SoSH U at work Posted: August 31, 2021 at 02:11 PM (#6037433)
Actually, I wish reached-on-errors was considered as a time reaching base in OBP.


You and me both.
   84. cardsfanboy Posted: August 31, 2021 at 02:17 PM (#6037436)
agree about the reach on errors thing, or even credit it with half, but there is a skill to reaching on errors (some people call that speed or maybe just hard contact, depending on the guy...either way, I'm pretty sure I've seen some work talking about reach on errors being a repeatable skill)
   85. Space Force fan Posted: August 31, 2021 at 02:24 PM (#6037438)
The problems with pitch framing context are that it will only be a consideration for about 20 years, how much catchers deserve credit for it is disputable, and that the worth of a ball/strike in run prevention is very context dependent. Before that we couldn't measure it and once robo-umps arrive then it will be irrelevant, so why does this generation of catchers uniquely get credit for pitch framing in compression to all the other catchers to play the game?

Yes, the HOF has made some bad choices, but that isn't a reason to make more bad choices. There are several players that meet the established HOF criteria that could be put in to fill the stands on induction day. There are many borderline candidates better than Molina that could be put in to fill the stands on induction day.

Pitch framing is an umpire's mistake.


Not necessarily.


My physics might be wrong, but the ball either goes over the plate or misses it 2-3 feet in front of where the catcher fields the ball. The catcher could be dancing a waltz for all the effect that he has on where the ball passes the plate. In what way is it not a umpire mistake when they call a strike a ball?



   86. cardsfanboy Posted: August 31, 2021 at 02:35 PM (#6037441)
The problems with pitch framing context are that it will only be a consideration for about 20 years


It's only going to be quantified in some way for 20 years, it's a thing that has existed for about 100 years and it's something everyone knew about, but then in the 80's the stat people argued it wasn't a real thing, then we got better data and the stat people admitted it was a real thing.
   87. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 31, 2021 at 02:59 PM (#6037448)
it's a thing that has existed for about 100 years and it's something everyone knew about, but then in the 80's the stat people argued it wasn't a real thing, then we got better data and the stat people admitted it was a real thing.


I think the effect of catchers on pitching/defense has been too narrowly shoe-horned into "pitch framing" recently.

The "thing that ... everyone knew about" was that catchers differ in their ability to call a game, work with pitchers, and affect their team's ability to prevent runs in more ways than simply controlling the running game and preventing wild pitches. Then "in the 80's the stat people argued" that differences in ERA between catchers were not a significant thing. Which was, I believe, in retrospect, a bit of an oversell, but also does lead me (and I think others) to question the magnitude of "pitch framing" alone as a measurable skill.

If the range of pitch framing across catchers can be worth 10 or 20 runs per season, that should be identifiable in earlier seasons without the need to parse out specific balls and strikes. It should be evident in something like catcher ERA, which can be calculated back into the Deadball Era now, given Retrosheet data.

And, to the extent that the requirements of being a good defensive catcher extend beyond pitch framing - e.g., pitch sequencing, integrating scouting reports of opposing batters, etc. - I don't think whatever differences exist there will disappear when robot umpires are eventually introduced.
   88. SoSH U at work Posted: August 31, 2021 at 03:06 PM (#6037450)
agree about the reach on errors thing, or even credit it with half, but there is a skill to reaching on errors (some people call that speed or maybe just hard contact, depending on the guy...either way, I'm pretty sure I've seen some work talking about reach on errors being a repeatable skill)


It's one part skill (speed, typically) and one part byproduct of approach (high contact, prone to hitting it on the ground). Either way, some guys do it far more often than others.
   89. SoSH U at work Posted: August 31, 2021 at 03:13 PM (#6037452)
My physics might be wrong, but the ball either goes over the plate or misses it 2-3 feet in front of where the catcher fields the ball. The catcher could be dancing a waltz for all the effect that he has on where the ball passes the plate. In what way is it not a umpire mistake when they call a strike a ball?


Pitch framing is not about holding the glove out there for a long time, or subtly yanking it back over the plate to trick blue. It's about catching the ball quietly, with little movement. So being good at framing is partly about getting some strikes that should have been called balls. It's also about getting pitches called strikes that should be called strikes, but wouldn't be called that way if the catcher is poor at receiving the ball.

And it's not true this group of catchers is just getting credit for this. It's this group of catchers is being evaluated for something that's always been an important part of the job, but we didn't have the ability to measure it (which is no different than other advancements in defensive measurement that weren't around for the first half of MLB). Some, like Molina and Posey, who are good at it, will be rightly recognized for the value being created. Others, such as Posada or Salvy, are docked for costing their pitchers strikes.
   90. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 31, 2021 at 03:56 PM (#6037468)
I first read about framing in the late 1980s or early 1989s in SI. Specifically, I rennet them talking about older catchers who were great to throw to because of it. I want to say Boone, Sundberg, and someone else. I don’t remember reading about it in the MSM before that, but I was only 14 or 15. I don’t remember reading about it again for another ten or fifteen years on BP or places like that.

My recollection of the article is that the premise was “the hidden art of catching” sort of thing, and there were guys who were great to throw to because they framed the pitch so well.
   91. Hombre Brotani Posted: August 31, 2021 at 04:17 PM (#6037473)
I first read about framing in the late 1980s or early 1989s in SI. Specifically, I rennet them talking about older catchers who were great to throw to because of it. I want to say Boone, Sundberg, and someone else.
If we're thinking about the same article, it was Boone. He talked about how he caught balls a bit further out than any other catcher in the league, then brought the glove in towards him ("funnel" was the word he used) to make pitches just off look like they hit the corner. He said he didn't do it all the time, and that it wasn't about deception so much as helping clarify what was and wasn't a strike for the umpire. (I'm obviously paraphrasing.)
   92. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 31, 2021 at 04:17 PM (#6037474)

He might not lead a mythical integrated league in HR every year (as he did the NNL), and maybe not all of his homers were 500+ feet, but we know top NNL talent was really good, and Gibson was the best hitter amongst all of them for a long time. (and the NeL "short seasons" are tricky, because those guys were playing all the time, even if it wasn't official league games - barnstorming, exhbitions, etc.)


Do we have any idea what the offensive run environment was in the days of JOsh Gibson? Was it like the deadball era or the lively ball era or what?


We only have data for framing going back less than 15 years, so how can we put that in any kind of historical perspective? The catchers of the past, how do they rank? And likewise, where does Molina rank amongst them?


THen how do you feel about NgL players in the HoF? There is lots of missing data that is not missing from MLB seasons. We dont have complete box scores; Im not even sure we have all the games. We dont have park effects, do we know what the run scoring average was? CS/SB.

What do you do with them? WOuld you induct any?



The 1930 National League batted .303; the American League, .288, and eyeballing each season, league batting averages for the decade were around .275-.280. 1930's American and National League pitching wasn't exactly covered in glory either.


THat argument has nothing to do with whatever the level of run scoring is at any given time.

If one league is scoring 4.5 runs/game and each team carries ten pitchers; and another league has 4.5 runs/game and is only carrying 3 pitchers then isnt it easier to hit in the second league? Assuming that both leagues use the best pitchers they can find.
   93. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 31, 2021 at 04:21 PM (#6037477)
But otherwise I can’t think of two more opposite players.


Randy Johnson and Eddie Gaedel say "Hello."
   94. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 31, 2021 at 04:35 PM (#6037483)
The Negro Leagues were usually within a half of MLB IIRC. But remember the AL scored significantly more than the NL during Gibson’s career. A half run or more. So any trad-stat projections you construct for him depend on what league you put him in.

What’s also tricky about him is that no player of his offensive ability was allowed to stay at catcher in MLB. The closest, Mike Piazza, wouldn’t debut until a little more than 60 years after Gibson did. IMO Gibson should be translated as a first baseman. The arrow of history points so strongly in that direction that the more you look at it, the more unavoidable that conclusion becomes.

Just to put a finer point on this, through the end of Gibson’s career, the highest career PA total in history for a catcher was about 7,000 (Gabby Hartnett). I would project Gibson with about 9,100 as a 1B thanks to his early demise. He would probably hit 425-475 homers by age 34 depending on his park, of course, as a 1B.

[For greater detail, i have explored this topic in this article: https://homemlb.wordpress.com/2021/06/24/josh-gibson-first-baseman/ ]
   95. Space Force fan Posted: August 31, 2021 at 04:39 PM (#6037485)
A hung curve ball, is a pitchers mistake, why does the batter who hits it deserve credit for that? The answer is simple, because he took advantage of it and helped his team to a better outcome.


The team takes advantage of the umpire's mistake to get a better outcome, not the catcher.

I think the effect of catchers on pitching/defense has been too narrowly shoe-horned into "pitch framing" recently.


Excellent point.

And it's not true this group of catchers is just getting credit for this. It's this group of catchers is being evaluated for something that's always been an important part of the job, but we didn't have the ability to measure it (which is no different than other advancements in defensive measurement that weren't around for the first half of MLB). Some, like Molina and Posey, who are good at it, will be rightly recognized for the value being created. Others, such as Posada or Salvy, are docked for costing their pitchers strikes.


Yet we ae going to use it to justify putting Molina in the HOF, but we can't use it to help previous catchers who were also good at it. So yes, just this group of catchers is getting credit for pitch framing.
   96. SoSH U at work Posted: August 31, 2021 at 04:48 PM (#6037489)
Yet we ae going to use it to justify putting Molina in the HOF, but we can't use it to help previous catchers who were also good at it. So yes, just this group of catchers is getting credit for pitch framing.


If you can identify those previous catchers who were good at it and show how it boosts their value, have at it.
   97. cardsfanboy Posted: August 31, 2021 at 05:21 PM (#6037497)
The team takes advantage of the umpire's mistake to get a better outcome, not the catcher.


I really think you are trying a bit too hard here. The team takes advantage of every advantageous outcome that happens. The catcher get's credit for it, because he's absolutely beyond any reasonable doubt, the reason it happened, it's a matter of applying a proper value to what his performance does in context that is debatable, not whether it's an actual thing that should be credited to the catcher.

There have been attempts to "learn" umpire strike zones so that we can have a park effect thing with these type of calls, but as long as there is something that is happening, and if we have the data to analyze it, why is their a problem with attempting to properly credit the players involved? On any given pitch that isn't swung at there are a minimum of four people involved in the play, the pitcher, the catcher, the ump and the batter... If we have the ability to attempt to quantify who and what is responsible for every call, and how much, why wouldn't we try?
   98. Srul Itza Posted: August 31, 2021 at 05:25 PM (#6037500)
If you can identify those previous catchers who were good at it and show how it boosts their value, have at it.


Isn't that his whole point -- that due to the lack of data -- or what passes for data -- we can't do that, so some modern catchers are getting a boost into the Hall that earlier catchers were denied?

Which makes the whole point boil down to: Life ain't fair.
   99. BDC Posted: August 31, 2021 at 05:27 PM (#6037501)
Then "in the 80's the stat people argued" that differences in ERA between catchers were not a significant thing. Which was, I believe, in retrospect, a bit of an oversell, but also does lead me (and I think others) to question the magnitude of "pitch framing" alone as a measurable skill

That's the thing for me. It's not that only later players are getting credit for something unmeasured before; that's a chronic problem since forever and will have future analogues as well; you just have to live with it. It's more that the value of pitch framing is notably hard to disentangle from quality of pitching, and depends on a lot of inferences. So do defensive metrics in general; but, defensive metrics are also known to be less precise than offensive, so one just approaches them with that caveat.

It's interesting, for instance, that the impact of pitch framing on run prevention is hard to see in actual run prevention; so as noted above, one has to point to the Cardinals' staff having good ERAs, but that might be because they were good pitchers, and actually demonstrating the effect is surprisingly difficult. So, maybe these pitchers were only good in St. Louis, but there could be any number of reasons for that (other defenders, good alignment of their Cardinal stints with their primes, quality of the public schools, who knows :)

I'm in fact more inclined to go by narratives and impressions and anecdotes. As also noted above, there is a consistent impression, and not just in St. Louis, that Yadier is exceptionally good at getting the best results out of pitchers, and observers are able to elaborate that. They don't do that with other catchers. That is the best reason to get curious about the Yadier Effect. But like old-fashioned impressions of "handling" it does come down to a certain amount of credit for coaching, if you will, for making your teammates better.
   100. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 31, 2021 at 05:28 PM (#6037502)
he catcher get's credit for it, because he's absolutely beyond any reasonable doubt, the reason it happened,

No, that's not true at all. Researchers have shown that pitchers are a big part of the equation. It's a hell of a lot easier to get called strikes with a pitcher who hits his spots. The value should be split.
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