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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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   201. DL from MN Posted: September 04, 2021 at 09:49 AM (#6038255)
I'll add a couple more thoughts on the flip.

If we are giving some credits for strikeouts to catchers and debiting them for walks, then we have to subtract that amount from pitchers to be consistent. We can't be double counting events.

Also, if pitch framing really only matters for walks and strikeouts then we don't need to worry about it as much before 1960 because strikeout and walk rates were relatively low. Who cares what Wally Schang's pitch framing numbers were if his pitchers only struck out 3 batters per 9 innings.
   202. DL from MN Posted: September 04, 2021 at 09:56 AM (#6038256)
Another nice thing about thinking about catcher contribution using just strikeouts and walks is you can look beyond framing and give value to pitch calling / sequencing. If your catcher is able to get more strikeouts for your pitchers and help them walk fewer batters then it doesn't matter if it comes from framing or pitch calling or being a "calming presence". This could potentially be calculated for eras where we don't have statcast strikezone data.
   203. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 04, 2021 at 10:31 AM (#6038258)

We have wondered why this skill doesn't show up in catcher ERA. My guess is it is buried in the noise. We've moved beyond ERA for pitchers. Catcher xFIP might show something more interesting. Take out all the noise from balls in play.

I'll put it another way. If catcher framing isn't getting your pitcher more strikeouts and fewer walks then it's just moving the point in the at-bat where the ball gets put in play. If we don't think big league pitchers have much measurable difference in what happens when the ball is put into play then the catcher certainly doesn't matter for balls in play.


This seems like a step in the right direction.
   204. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 04, 2021 at 11:49 AM (#6038268)
CORRECTION TO THE CORRECTION


I messed up the CS/Not stealing again.

Stealing attempts during Molina career .77/game (done manually so...)

MOlina is what 130 games/season? So 100 attempts/molina season.

MISTAKE ONE: they steal less, so NOT 100 attempts its 60 (per that link)

CS above mlb avg: 60 x .13 = 8 CS

Value above avg: 8 x .5 = 4 runs (NOT 6.5)

MISTAKE TWO NOT STEALING.

Ok value of not stealing, .25 runs/10 attempts not made (rationale: 70% stealing results in 1 sb above break even or 7/3; value: .25 runs)

Value: 40 no attempts x .25 = 1 run

BUT Double Plays. If the guy stays on first there's more DPs. THe DP rate is 7.5% (IIRC). SO:

40 no attempts x 7.5% = 3 DPs. Extra DPs because players dont run.

Value 1.5 runs.

Total Value not stealing 2.5 runs

GRAND TOTALS:

PB/WP: 3.5 runs
CS: 4 runs
Not stealing: 2.5 runs
Hi lEverage: 3.5 (not already counted in CS)
Extra inn Hi lvg: 2.5

Def value: 16 runs per year
BRef/TZ: 9 runs/year

Correction Factor: 7 runs/year x 16 seasons = 11 WAR

BRef War: 41.7
Adjusted WAR: 53

NOTE: Technically analyzing this way, I wouldnt use the positional adjustment (7 runs/yr I think). But Im only going to compare C to C, so we'll just drop it when we compare them.

If you want to compare Molina to non catchers, then you can leave it in because obviously C hit about 8 runs/less than avg. So leaving adjusted WAR at 53 would be the proper value to compare vs non catchers. You still have to correct for C hitting less; positional adjustment is nearly identical to the difference in C hitting below avg; so no effect.

   205. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 04, 2021 at 11:55 AM (#6038269)
DOes it change POrters correction.

POrter had 7 less attempts. x 7.5% = 0.5 DPs

0.5 x .5 runs = .25 runs.

Porter's CS/Not stealing was rounded to 2 runs, this .25 doesnt change that.

So "No."
   206. Jaack Posted: September 04, 2021 at 12:12 PM (#6038271)
While I don't necessarily think there's anything wrong with just looking at strikeouts and walks, but I feel like you get less noisy data by assigning the standard run value to stolen strikes, which is currently around .13 runs. For older, less strikeout prone eras, that would surely be lower as players rarely got deep into counts where the higher leverage pitches were. The run value for a stolen strike is probably significantly lower, perhaps below .1 runs, but I don't think there's very much data on balls and strikes before 1988, so it's basically impossible to estimate.
   207. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 04, 2021 at 12:40 PM (#6038273)
DLfrom MN this ones for you:

FREEHAN:

Freehan plays 62% of his teams games. period 1963-1974

WP/season, mlb avg: 48 (a lot less than today huh? )

PB/Season, mlb avg: 16

Freehan wp; 4.5 less/162 games;

x 62%= 3 wp/freehan season

assign 1.5 of those to Freehan.

PB 6.5 less/162 games .

multiply by 62% = 4

PB/WP saves: 4/1.5 per freehan season

Value: 5.5 x .3 = 1.5 runs

WP/PB: 1.5 runs

STEALING.

Stealing att. changed radically during Freehan's time. This might have a lot to do with the dearth of hitting among C and SS during this time period. It went from .6 att/game to 1 att/game by 1974. Major jumps in 1966 and 1974. what the hell was going on ? You also have to wonder how players that came in before the change, like Freehan would adapt to more stealing. Were C pre 1966 better hitters? And who started this trend? Was it Willie Davis or Aparicio or Campaneris or someone?

It averages out to 125 att/162g; I didnt weight this for Freehan playing more early in his career so might be adjusted.

125 x 62%: 75 att/Freehan season, in theory

Freehan: 78 att/freehan season.

So they made 3 more att on Freehan than avg. Lets call it zero.


CS: Freehan is dead even with league avg: 38% vs 39%. call it zero

HI LEVERAGE

Hi leverage: I guess its zero if CS/not stealing is zero.

Hi lvg, Xtra Inn: zero.

GRAND TOTAL:

WP/PB: 1.5 runs
CS: 0
Not Stealing: 0
Hi Leverage: 0

Def value per season 1.5 runs
BRef def. value per season: 2/freehan season; 3/162games

Correction factor 0.5 runs/season
Career correction 7.5 runs
BRef Career War: 44.8
Adjusted Career WAR: 44

So like most average defenders, not much change.

   208. DL from MN Posted: September 04, 2021 at 01:51 PM (#6038282)
I often wonder if the progression went like this

General managers were selecting catchers for handling pitches
The metrics folks said "there's nothing to this stuff"
The GMs responded by no longer selecting for it - increasing the variance
Strikeout rates started climbing, which made this ability 2x or 3x more important than before
Metrics folks started seeing differences in ability (now that catchers were no longer selected for this) and talking about how important it is
GMs started selecting for pitch handling again
We can't see much of a difference anymore
   209. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 04, 2021 at 02:00 PM (#6038284)
It could go like that. It couldnt possibly have made much difference in the 1960s as pointed out.

If framing is +/- 2 War/season (which is generous) then its like +/- 1 war in the 60s.

IF framing is more like +/- 1 WAR, then in the 60s its like .5 WAR. WHich would probably be like Catchers know its a thing but the avg ball player or the avg fan might not even know about it. I think I was vaguely aware about it playing in the 1970s like I might recognize it if you mention it.
   210. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 04, 2021 at 02:27 PM (#6038288)
I messed up the Hi Leverage calculation on MOlina so gonna have to revist that one...
   211. DL from MN Posted: September 04, 2021 at 02:59 PM (#6038292)
This article was interesting

https://www.si.com/mlb/2019/05/15/strikeout-record-pace-best-pitchers

Strikeout rate climbed from 1955 (11.4%) to 1967 (15.9%), then they lowered the mound and it dropped back to 15% in 1969. K rate very slowly climbed until 2008 (17.5%) but increased quickly from then until today (23%). We're currently more than double anything before 1955 and 40% more than anything before 2008. Even if Bill Dickey was as good at stealing strikes as Yadier Molina he couldn't have helped his team as much as Yadi can UNLESS nobody cared in 1940 and the variance among catchers was much higher.
   212. Space Force fan Posted: September 04, 2021 at 03:00 PM (#6038293)
Can you define a borderline catcher in terms of career WAR? or some other objective standard.


I'll try. I would give catchers about a 20% bonus for wear and tear/fewer games over the catcher adjustment already in WAR. So 50 WAR +/- is borderline for me. For a player who would go in as a catcher that is below the general standard for all positions, but received significant WAR from other positions, then I would take his catcher WAR and about 50% of his non-catcher WAR. Using Mauer as an example, adding his catcher WAR and half his non-catcher WAR gets close to 50 WAR. Add in bonus for a catcher winning batting titles, then he is in the borderline. Not a tragedy if he isn't elected, but I might vote for him in our imaginary BBTF HOF ballot.
   213. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 04, 2021 at 03:08 PM (#6038294)
Quality of contact might be the big issue. That’s kind of the point of framing metrics as I understand. The difference between 0-2 and 1-1 is pretty huge. That might lead to more K but it also reduces quality of contact. Especially prior to the last several seasons this when everyone wasn’t necessarily going for the pump, this is a big deal.
   214. DL from MN Posted: September 04, 2021 at 04:00 PM (#6038303)
That might lead to more K but it also reduces quality of contact.


If that is a real thing then xFIP is complete garbage.
   215. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 04, 2021 at 04:04 PM (#6038304)
So 50 WAR +/- is borderline for me.


That seems too high for me. Im going with 45 WAR total for career spent at C.

That puts Freehan as basically the def'n of borderline C. I think Munson too?

Small but discernible amount below: D Porter

Small but discernible amount above: Molina (with added def. value, see above)


OK so your HoF is a little smaller than mine.

   216. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 04, 2021 at 04:09 PM (#6038305)
MORE ON LEVERAGE

I think we have a lot more to learn about leverage of SB.

In extra inn. by the 11th. The value of SB tie game, no out, is like 1.2 runs. Its just insane. I think we can estimate SB in extra innings as value about 1 run. Insane.

This also makes the value of a DP in that situation worth like 2 runs for the defense.

BUt there's another leverage issue. In 5th inn. down by one run, the visitors have man on first/no out. He steals second thats a 12% WE change. 1.2 runs for a SB in the fifth! Same thing in the 4th, down by one, man on first, no outs. Steals second almost 7% WE change.

It gets halved if there's one out. It gets even less with the game tied. In no other inn. before xtras does it work like that.

This site:

https://gregstoll.com/~gregstoll/baseball/stats.html#V.1.4.1.3.0.0.2011.2020

I think thats enuf of a boost to value SB at 0.3 runs, in lieu of knowing what inn./score it was.
   217. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 04, 2021 at 04:48 PM (#6038314)
The revolution of 1965.

As mentioned above, there was a huge jump in SB in 1965 and also in 1974. This seems to coincide with what Walt and others have talked about when talking about why SS and C are hitting so low in the entire 20 year period 1965-85.

I wonder if this was fueled by the huge influx of central american talent that came into the league during this period? Much of it was middle infielders who could run. Historically, Aparicio from VEN arrived in 1956. Rico Carty from San PEdro de Macoris 1963 and Campaneris from Cuba in 1964.

When players started the stealing increase in 1965, its coming from Wills, Campaneris. The two of them increased their own SB by 80. Aparicio decreased his total. So about 1/3 of the increase from these two guys. So I wonder if this did not start a trend toward obtaining good fielding latin guys who had the added ability of speed?

BUt then the question arises: why would you go in this direction if its not an advantage to do so? Because the basic argument is that SS and C are horrible offensively and they arent giving back enuf value in def. to make up for it.

In short: its an inefficient way to build your ball club. You should be finding decent SS who can hit. Right? This is the main thesis of Walt et al. Its quite reasonable.

I guess the answer is that the central american talent is freely available. You've got all these guys down there who you dont have to draft and you dont have to pay a lot of money to. YOu can pick up Alou, Cepeda, Davalillo, Sanguillen etc. for very little cost.

SO does it make sense to fill up some slots with basically free talent who's skills are fielding and running?
   218. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 04, 2021 at 05:11 PM (#6038316)
OK heres the Molina correction.

I messed up the leverage calc. because 16 guys arent going to run in the 9th inn. A lot of guys just dont steal. And of course Molina dissuades 40% of those who can. So recalculating:


Value of 9th inn leverage: 0.8 runs
Extra inn Hi lvg: 1.2

Total LVG: 2 runs.

this represents a correction of -4 runs.

MOLINA Def value: 12 runs per year
BReF: 9 runs/year

Correction Factor: 3 runs/year x 16 seasons = 5 WAR

BRef War: 41.7
Adjusted WAR: 47

I guess Molina goes back to borderline with the correction!
   219. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2021 at 11:55 AM (#6038367)
Shall we do Campanella next?

PB/WP

mlb avg for Campys ten main seasons

PB: 11/162
WP 29/162

Campy: 7/26

Diff/162: 4/3
adjust for 72% PT: 3/2

Give only half credit for WP: 3/1
total Def saving for 4 balls: 1.2 runs


CS/NOT STEALING

CS: 46 att/camp season
thats 72% x 162g rate of CS; figure might as well use 162 to make comparisons

His rate of CS is 15% above avg; so
CS above avg:
46 x. 15 = 7 CS

Value CS: 4.2 runs

Im now using 0.3 as value for Sb since it now appears theres a bit more leverage to account for. See above discussion as well as I see now that SB att occur about 40% of the time when score is within one run, so they do steal a bit more in higher leverage situ. I think 0.3 is a conservattive value

Less attempts are made on Campy:

mlb att/162g: 88
x .72 = 63 att

for campy:
46att/camp season

Diff: 17 Not stealing

Value not stealing:
0.5 runs, it takes about 10att to gain 1sb above break even

Plus double plays increase:
1 run

HI LEVERAGE

1 run: 9th
1 extras; based on Molina analysis


GRAND TOTALS

WP/PB: 1.
Value CS: 4 runs
Value Not stealing 1.5 run
Hi leverage 2 (for both 9th/extas)

total def value 8.5 runs/camp season
BRef def: 4.3/campanella season

correction 4 runs/season
Career correction 4 WAR

BRef Career value 41.8 WAR
Corrected Career 45.8 WAR

   220. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: September 06, 2021 at 12:19 AM (#6038461)
I would give catchers about a 20% bonus for wear and tear/fewer games over the catcher adjustment already in WAR.


I know that a lot of people do this or something like it, but it never made sense to me. If catchers miss lots of games, it means that there are lots of games that they aren't helping their teams win. If all catchers get lots of wear and tear, it just means that there's a factor that retards the amount of value that they can produce, that other positions don't suffer from. In other words, it's easier to produce value playing other positions. And we should, thus, expect more hall of famers from other positions - because more of them are producing hall-of-fame level amounts of value.

It's pretty much the same reason that the hall shouldn't have any (or maybe just Rivera) relief pitchers in the hall. The nature of what they do on the field limits the amount of value that they can produce.
   221. SoSH U at work Posted: September 06, 2021 at 10:49 AM (#6038468)
, It's pretty much the same reason that the hall shouldn't have any (or maybe just Rivera) relief pitchers in the hall. The nature of what they do on the field limits the amount of value that they can produce.


And this doesn't make sense to me (or the idea that the Hall should simply be an across-the-board equal measurement of value creation.

Relief pitchers are merely subsets of the category pitcher (usually placed there because of their inherent inferiority from starters in one way or another). The position of closer doesn't need to exist, and didn't for most of baseball history. If you have a quality starter, you almost never convert him to closer (Righetti is the only example I can think of), but you do put your failed starters there.

You can't not have a catcher. The position, which can't simply be handled by any yahoo (in fact, the baseline defensive requirements are much, much higher than any of the other positions, including pitcher, even if it's harder for those who meet that baseline to separate themselves from each other given our current measurement abilities). Thus, the idea of giving this position a lower WAR threshold for Hall discussion makes total sense to me.
   222. I don't want to talk about Rocco Posted: September 06, 2021 at 11:14 AM (#6038470)
Is there another sport where a critical role is played in a manner wildly different from all other players? Hockey goalies get to stand for much of the action. Soccer goalies, same. I guess the wicket keeper in cricket?
   223. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 06, 2021 at 12:25 PM (#6038472)
well pitchers are pretty different dont you think? Batting has almost nothing to do with their value; sabr metric systems dont even attempt to assign a position bonus for them, etc.
   224. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: September 06, 2021 at 02:38 PM (#6038476)

I know that a lot of people do this or something like it, but it never made sense to me. If catchers miss lots of games, it means that there are lots of games that they aren't helping their teams win. If all catchers get lots of wear and tear, it just means that there's a factor that retards the amount of value that they can produce, that other positions don't suffer from. In other words, it's easier to produce value playing other positions. And we should, thus, expect more hall of famers from other positions - because more of them are producing hall-of-fame level amounts of value.

It's pretty much the same reason that the hall shouldn't have any (or maybe just Rivera) relief pitchers in the hall. The nature of what they do on the field limits the amount of value that they can produce.


Agreeing with SoSH U that the Hall ought to recognize those who were best at the game, i.e. the best for their position, not just simply who produced the most value overall. Otherwise, it'd be like having only QBs in the football HoF. One can argue that each position need not be represented equally, but if for some reason the best SS of all time retired with 22 WAR, I'd be fine with him in the HoF.
   225. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 06, 2021 at 09:58 PM (#6038517)
Thinking about the issue raised in the last several posts I present to you this question:

Johnny Bench has the highest career WAR for C at 75 (IIRC). Is a he an inner circle HoFer?
   226. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 06, 2021 at 10:20 PM (#6038526)
Johnny Bench has the highest career WAR for C at 75 (IIRC). Is a he an inner circle HoFer?

Yes. I'd say Bench, Berra, and Gibson are inner circle.
   227. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: September 06, 2021 at 11:31 PM (#6038533)
Johnny Bench has the highest career WAR for C at 75 (IIRC). Is a he an inner circle HoFer?


Along with Gibson, he's in the conversation as the catcher GOAT. The question is how could you NOT consider a guy like this as an inner circle HOFer? The WAR figure woefully undervalues a player like Bench. I think the real question is something like "was Frank Robinson or Mickey Mantle actually worth 50% MORE then Johnny Bench?"

   228. Sweatpants Posted: September 07, 2021 at 01:17 AM (#6038538)
Along with Gibson, he's in the conversation as the catcher GOAT. The question is how could you NOT consider a guy like this as an inner circle HOFer? The WAR figure woefully undervalues a player like Bench. I think the real question is something like "was Frank Robinson or Mickey Mantle actually worth 50% MORE then Johnny Bench?"
Mantle and Robinson both destroy Bench as a hitter. Mantle's career OPS+ of 172 is better than Bench' career high.

I think that WAR undervalues Berra a lot more than it undervalues Bench. To me there's a lot less between those two than their WAR total would indicate.
   229. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: September 07, 2021 at 02:37 AM (#6038541)
Mantle and Robinson both destroy Bench as a hitter. Mantle's career OPS+ of 172 is better than Bench' career high.


But we are not just measuring the ability to hit. Bench is arguably the greatest defensive catcher ever. As we know, it's an insanely difficult position to fill and to fill it with a guy who can hit is nearly an immeasurable bonus. I think a catcher's defensive value and the positional adjustment is just not captured correctly in the metrics. The position is undervalued by the measuring tools we currently use.

   230. BDC Posted: September 07, 2021 at 12:57 PM (#6038570)
Yes. I think it's quite conceivable that a certain amount of pitcher value might actually be catcher value, and thus the WAR of the best catchers (in near-full seasons, and over entire careers) should be higher, that of the best pitchers slightly lower.

I have no certainty of that and no way in heck of suggesting how to figure it, but it could well be a systematic effect over long stretches of baseball history. It doesn't sound absurd, anyway.
   231. My name is Votto, and I love to get Moppo Posted: September 07, 2021 at 04:37 PM (#6038589)
Man, baseball was so different in Yogi's time. He played over 2,000 games and struck out 414 times in his entire career! The most in one season was 38 K's in 1959, when the league rate was 5.0 K/9.

One thing is confusing me: in 1959, the league average OPS+ was 94, the NL was 92. Shouldn't it be 100 by definition?


   232. Jaack Posted: September 07, 2021 at 04:43 PM (#6038592)
I believe that 100 OPS+ is the average for non-pitchers, so it's the just pitchers dragging it down.
   233. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 07, 2021 at 08:10 PM (#6038608)
The question is how could you NOT consider a guy like this as an inner circle HOFer?


For all the reasons mentioned in post 220 etc. If we say Yasztremski, Cal Ripken etc. are inner circle HoFers and they created 100 WAR. Well clearly they created more WAR than J. Bench. A lot more.

So your inner circle doesnt have a C?
   234. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 07, 2021 at 08:23 PM (#6038612)

Yes. I think it's quite conceivable that a certain amount of pitcher value might actually be catcher value, and thus the WAR of the best catchers (in near-full seasons, and over entire careers) should be higher, that of the best pitchers slightly lower.


Thats possible but its not the only way to look at a situation where C defense is undervalued. Its entirely possible that your good C might need a 10 run boost, but then you can subtract the net total boost from the bad C. So a small set of say 10 C get a 10 run boost and a larger set of say 30 C get a -3.3 decrease.

I think the latter situation is more likely. Cause why is C defense, or any defense being undervalued? Because some event is not being counted. Like we fail to count say the ability of the C to sequence pitches. If some C is good at it then it means some other C is bad at it. So it nets zero.

But its not the only way to look at it.
   235. with Glavinesque control and Madduxian poise Posted: September 07, 2021 at 09:00 PM (#6038614)
Relief pitchers are merely subsets of the category pitcher (usually placed there because of their inherent inferiority from starters in one way or another). The position of closer doesn't need to exist, and didn't for most of baseball history. If you have a quality starter, you almost never convert him to closer (Righetti is the only example I can think of), but you do put your failed starters there.


I think the real example of converting a quality starter to closer is Smoltz, but his case was complicated by 1) feelings about relieving being better for his health and 2) an attempt to stretch him out as a reliever, preparatory to returning him to starter, that turned him into so dominant a reliever they couldn't give him up.
   236. SoSH U at work Posted: September 07, 2021 at 09:21 PM (#6038617)
I think the real example of converting a quality starter to closer is Smoltz, but his case was complicated by 1) feelings about relieving being better for his health and 2) an attempt to stretch him out as a reliever, preparatory to returning him to starter, that turned him into so dominant a reliever they couldn't give him up.


But that never would have happened without the lost 2000 season. He wasn't coverted to closer by choice. And Smoltz was eventually shifted back to the starting rotation, so it's pretty clear this wasn't what the Braves deemed the most effective deployment.

Righetti was an effective starter. Goose left the Yankees after 1983 and Steinbrenner thought he needed a closer more than a quality starter. Rags only started four more games over the rest of his career.
   237. cardsfanboy Posted: September 07, 2021 at 09:36 PM (#6038620)
Yes. I think it's quite conceivable that a certain amount of pitcher value might actually be catcher value, and thus the WAR of the best catchers (in near-full seasons, and over entire careers) should be higher, that of the best pitchers slightly lower.

I have no certainty of that and no way in heck of suggesting how to figure it, but it could well be a systematic effect over long stretches of baseball history. It doesn't sound absurd, anyway.


Fully agree and I have made similar arguments in the past, but not quite as clear and succinct. (and it's not best pitchers, it's all pitchers, and it's all catchers)
I disagree with

Thats possible but its not the only way to look at a situation where C defense is undervalued. Its entirely possible that your good C might need a 10 run boost, but then you can subtract the net total boost from the bad C. So a small set of say 10 C get a 10 run boost and a larger set of say 30 C get a -3.3 decrease.


As I think that catcher defense, pitch calling, pitch handling, coaching, awareness, has an inherent value that is positive for pretty much every player who makes it to the majors in the position, that any negatives are almost by default weeded out in this particular skill. Again, there are only four people involved in every pitch, of a plate appearance, the pitcher, catcher, batter and ump. (and even the ump isn't technically involved in every pitch, but is potentially involved) It doesn't detract from the measurable defensive numbers such as arm, fielding and even pitch framing, but when it comes to 'handling', I don't think there are many, if any catchers who are actually bad at the job at the major league level, just some who are better and no matter how 'bad' they are, they are still influential in the pitching of the pitcher to some degree.

Or another way, the measure of catcher handling is generally either a sum zero event, in which the pitcher is entirely responsible for his performance, or a positive, in which the catcher handled the pitcher to a better performance than they would have done on their own. There are a few cases where a pitcher might feel the catcher did them dirty (the story's of Irod calling fastball in running situations to give him a better chance of catching the runner) but I don't really think that is a true negative.

For all the reasons mentioned in post 220 etc. If we say Yasztremski, Cal Ripken etc. are inner circle HoFers and they created 100 WAR. Well clearly they created more WAR than J. Bench. A lot more.

So your inner circle doesnt have a C?


I don't think War is the determination for inner circle though, inner circle is just rankings of the best guys at their positions and a few other great guys. Everyone makes up their own inner circle, but nearly by definition you have to have a player at each position as a representative. How you define position is up to you as an individual, but once you set up your criteria, inner circle is pretty easy to define, it's a clear line between the best of the best and the lesser greats. To me there are only two inner circle hof catchers, Bench and Gibson. Inner circle is a combination(to me) of greatness over seasons and longevity, and catchers are going to have a hard time meeting that criteria by the wear of their position.
   238. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 07, 2021 at 09:57 PM (#6038622)
...pitch calling, pitch handling, coaching, awareness, has an inherent value that is positive for pretty much every player who makes it to the majors in the position, that any negatives are almost by default weeded out in this particular skill


I dont want to make too big a deal out of this pt. because I think you make some better arguments later. But on this pt. WHy can't you just set the average C ability to 0; and then C are either plus or minus.

Like running. We don't start out by saying everyone in baseball has positive running. We measure Rbaser, or so they say, and then some player are positive and some negative. So you can set the average to zero as long as C have different abilities.


I don't think there are many, if any catchers who are actually bad at the job at the major league level, just some who are better and no matter how 'bad' they are, they are still influential in the pitching of the pitcher to some degree.


Well as you said: pitching is basically a process involving two players. Its highly interactive. If that is the case then any positive value C supply to pitching would probably have to come out of the pitchers value. I'm not really against that in theory but when you start to work the numbers it does become a little dicey if you feel that BLyleven's only a 4 WAR not a 5 WAR, but hey maybe?

but what does research say? Surely if C were contributing to P value, someone would have shown that already. Right? A WOWY study would be the way to go, you measure the P pitching to different C.
   239. BDC Posted: September 07, 2021 at 10:04 PM (#6038623)
it's not best pitchers, it's all pitchers, and it's all catchers

Exactly. And not all catchers by the exact same percentage (as sunday silence notes), but on the whole the sum of all pitcher WAR is too high and the sum of all catcher WAR too low.

(I mean, in this hypothesis, anyway.)
   240. cardsfanboy Posted: September 07, 2021 at 10:08 PM (#6038626)
Well as you said: pitching is basically a process involving two players. Its highly interactive. If that is the case then any positive value C supply to pitching would probably have to come out of the pitchers value


Yes. I don't think I have ever in my life not agreed with that argument. Right now roughly we give 35% of value to the pitcher, 15% to the defenders.... I think it might be closer to 32% to the pitchers 3% to the plate caller and 15% to the defenders. (and the 3% is variable based upon the quality of the pitcher and the quality of the catcher, some catchers might be 4% others might be 1% etc.)
   241. cardsfanboy Posted: September 07, 2021 at 10:21 PM (#6038627)
I dont want to make too big a deal out of this pt. because I think you make some better arguments later. But on this pt. WHy can't you just set the average C ability to 0; and then C are either plus or minus.


Because I don't think it's accurate at that point. I have issues with doing that with pitchers to be honest also. There is absolutely no way a guy like Wainwright who is top three in innings pitched (at 176innings) with a 135 era+ is only worth 3.5 war, the mere act of showing up and not being bad at your job has more value for catcher and pitcher than war reflects. Other positions I am fine with basing everything on 0(well not entirely but my objection is less) but for those two positions that figure into every pitch of every play that they are involved with, has inherent positive value. I get this is a philosophical argument that is based upon my obsession of playing time and health, but it is the way I feel on this issue.

When you equalize everything to 0 you effectively are penalizing the player who plays everyday at average for that skill and rewarding the guy who misses 50 games a year and is +1 run better than average per 162 games at that skill.
   242. cardsfanboy Posted: September 07, 2021 at 10:47 PM (#6038632)
Note: I get that War is above replacement, but the metrics used often times is based upon average, and in a few situations I think it undervalues players who show up because of that.
   243. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 08, 2021 at 12:57 AM (#6038646)
Incidentally, I had to rethink my position on the weighted value of SB. There's a lot of different views on this so I decided to start looking at the change in Win Expectancy for world series games in the 60s. I am using that website for win expectancy posted above. It uses actual Empirical data rather than theoretical that you have at baseballref. I feel this is the closest thing to reality.

Havent finished but the value is much closer to 0.2 runs (Palmer's original book said 0.3 which was way high). For a high base stealer like Brock or Wills its probably more like. 0.18. because those guys steal in so many situations, like stealing 3rd in the 8th inn. of a blowout, stuff that doesnt even move the needle.

Some studies do suggest .18 which I think is too low for a medium base stealer. Like a guy who steals 10 to 20 bases a year. Presumably he is picking his spots and presumably those would have at least medium leverage or at least no minimal lvg. I think 0.2 is fine for guys like Mays or Clemente.

Break even pt. A lot of studies suggest this is over 70% but I think most of them measure the Run expectancy for a given base state. But sometimes, a single run is crucial, and if you use Win Expectancy 70% is realistic. If that's true then 0.45 runs would be accurate value for a CS.

Of course this is very relevant to how we value Catchers.
   244. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 08, 2021 at 12:59 AM (#6038647)
Right now roughly we give 35% of value to the pitcher, 15% to the defenders....


Going from memory I dont think that's quite true. I think we usually see 45/5 as they dont seem to credit defense much. Which is too high for me. I would suggest 38/12 or something.

actually I cant recall what they say; but it gave too little credit to def.
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