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Choices B

April 15, 2020
 (I published this article so that it would show early this morning.  For some reason that I don’t understand, although the software SAYS it is published, it does not show up on the site, so I have had to re-publish it under a slightly different name.)




            OK, recess is over; it is time to go back to working on the Runs Saved against Zero project. 

            Did you ever hear this joke?   Tom Johnson has not lived an honest life, so when he passes away the Devil claims him, and tells his right-hand man to show this guy around, have him choose his room.  So the Devil’s Assistant says, "Tom, you’ve got a choice of three rooms in which you will spend the rest of eternity.  You get to choose which room you want."

            In the first room there are loud obnoxious noises coming from all sides and bright flashing lights, and the room goes from brilliantly lit to dark, back and forth on a one-second pattern, and you can hear people screaming in pain, and everybody in the room is standing on their heads.   

            Then they go to the second room, and the floor is a heated grate; it’s like 140 degrees in the room and the floor is hotter, and everybody in that room is standing on their heads, too.

            So they go to the third room, and the entire floor of the room is covered with a foot of the most foul-smelling sewage you can imagine, and the room smells horrible and everybody in the room is covered with disgusting sores from living in sewage, but everybody is standing and drinking coffee.   So Tom says, "Well, it’s pretty awful in here, too, but at least you’re not standing on your head all day and you get coffee, so I guess I’ll take this one." 

            And he goes in, and the door shuts.  And the devil says, "OK, coffee break is over; all you guys go back to standing on your heads." 



            Anyway, back to work.  On what we are doing now I actually need your help.  I need your guidance, your input.  I need your feedback.

            We have to make a series of choices here, eleven of them.  We have 11 categories of data which contribute to runs being prevented.  While we might think simplistically that some of these are "pitching" and some are "fielding", the reality is that many of them, most of them, perhaps all of them except one, are responsibilities shared between pitchers and fielders.  

            We know, at this point. . . .well, we don’t "know".   We have formed an estimate, at this point, of how many runs each team has prevented by strikeouts, by control, by home run avoidance, by fielding range/DER, by turning the double play, etc.   What we need to do now is to take that information, and turn it into a binary split:  How many runs did this team prevent by pitching, and how many did they prevent by fielding?   One or the other; which is it? 

            There is probably some way to measure the fielder’s impact on each of these things and the pitcher’s impact on each of them, but we don’t have those measurements NOW.   Someone in the next generation will have to develop those methods.  For now, we’re just going to have to decide.   And your opinions on these things are probably as good as mine, so. . . .I need to know what you think.   Category by category:


            Strikeouts.   My first inclination would be to count the strikeout as 99% the work of the pitchers, and 1% the contribution of the catchers. 

            We’re working on the TEAM level here, dealing with TEAM strikeouts, not strikeouts by individual pitchers.   It seems to me that the catcher plays some minor role in this, not only by "framing", but also, at least historically, by calling pitches, knowing the hitters, setting up the hitters, etc. 

            I once talked about this with Joe Garagiola, who of course was a catcher; I asked whether he thought catchers had any impact on the pitcher’s ERA by calling pitches.   Joe said, "Nah, we don’t have anything to do with it," and he gave me this example.   He said that when he was with the Cardinals, he had Harry Brecheen and Howie Pollet and Al Brazle and Max Lanier; you’d get a hitter 1-2, and he’d call for a curve ball, and the pitcher knew that he meant a curve ball a foot out of the zone, make it look like it might be a strike and see if the batter would swing at it and get himself out.  But then he got traded to the Pirates, and he’d do the same thing, and the pitcher would throw a curve ball right over the plate.   He said he would think, "Jesus, you should have known I didn’t mean to throw THAT."  He specifically mentioned Murry Dickson as a guy who just didn’t get it, just didn’t have a clue what he was doing, although Murry was in his 30s by then, had been in the majors for a long time and somehow managed to win 20 games with a 7th-place Pirates team in 1951.   But his basic point was, you just can’t make the pitcher throw the pitch he is supposed to throw.  You just have to live with whatever he does.  


Walks.   Again, my inclination would be to count this as 99% pitching, 1% catching.   Maybe 2% catching for walks; the catcher wants to try to nibble on 2-2, it leads to a walk sometimes.  I don’t know.   I need your feedback. 

Home Runs Allowed.   Same thing.   99% pitching, 1% catching. 


Hit Batsmen.   Again, 99% pitching, 1% catching.


Wild Pitches.   Wild pitches are probably 80% the responsibility of the pitcher, 20% the responsibility of the catcher, maybe?  What do you think? 


Balks.  Who cares?   There are so few runs involved here it doesn’t really seem to matter.   Just place the responsibility all on the pitcher.


DER.   This is really the monster item on the day’s agenda.  Making the right choice here is vital to the success of the project—and there is a huge array of credible options.  

            We all know, from the work stemming from Voros’ original publication, that the pitcher has relatively little impact on whether the balls put into play against him become hits or outs.   The balls put into play against Gerrit Cole have more or less the same generalized outcomes as the balls put into play against David Hess; once the ball is in play, it’s in play. 

            The pitcher has relatively little control of that, but not zero control of it.  But does the pitcher get 5% of the credit here, 20%, 2%, what?   I could make an argument. . . let’s call this argument A.

            Argument A.   I could make an argument that the pitcher gets 70% of the credit for outs on balls in play.   The argument is, 70% of balls in play result in outs.   The pitcher, when he gets the ball put in play, has succeeded 70% of the time.   He hasn’t walked the batter; he hasn’t let it him hit the cheap seats.  He hasn’t gotten him 100% out, like he has on a strikeout, but he has gotten him 70% out. 

            The response to that is Argument B.

            Argument B.    The pitcher has already been given credit for putting the ball in play.  There are five outcomes:  the plate appearance can result in a strikeout, a walk, a home run, a hit batsman, or a ball in play.   We’ve accounted for all of the things that the pitcher does—the strikeout, the walk, avoiding the home run, avoiding the hit batsman.   This is what’s left.  This is the fielder’s little share of the pie.  You can’t give THAT to the fielder, too, can you?

            I’m 80% sure that Argument B is entirely correct, and Argument A is just flat-out wrong.  But I’ll need to look at the data once I have it organized, and I want to hear what you all have to say about it.


            Fielding Percentage:   Appears to be 100% the responsibility of the fielders, right?   I mean, the pitcher is involved as a fielder, but the pitcher is not involved in the allocation of responsibility for his role as a pitcher.


            Double Plays:   Probably 90% the responsibility of the Fielders, I would say?  The pitcher has SOME responsibility; some pitchers are willing to put the guy on first if they think they can get a ground ball; some are not going to do that, and would be silly to try because ground balls aren’t their thing.  


            Stolen Base Value:   Maybe 2/3 the responsibility of the catcher, 1/3 the responsibility of the pitchers?  

            On the individual level, the pitcher’s role in preventing the stolen base may well be larger than the catcher’s.   On the team level, teams are a mix of pitchers, and a mix of players generally is somewhere near the center; thus, on the team level, it’s mostly the catchers who determine where this team stands compared to other teams.  So I am kind of thinking 2 to 1.


            Passed Balls.   Again, about 2/3 or 70% the responsibility of the catchers, 1/3 or 30% the responsibility of the pitchers, I think. 


            In addition to that, I would value your input into one collateral issue.  When I am studying this issue, working out the system in more detail, I will need some "sample teams" to uses for study/illustration.  I would value your input into what teams I might use.

            Thanks for reading, and thanks again for your input. 















COMMENTS (48 Comments, most recent shown first)

Should the infielders get a tiny little percentage point or two of responsibility for SB/CS? Somebody has to put the tag down.
10:20 AM Apr 17th
On Fielding Percentage: It appears that B-Ref has ROE data going back to 1918. It might be worth the effort to have one run value for errors prior to 1918, and then two separate values after that for ROE vs. other errors (which obviously have very different run values).
7:35 AM Apr 17th
Think about how MLB teams evaluate responsibility for SBs. If you're a catcher who can throw, and if you're quick enough, you can get in the lineup even if you hit .220 with no power. On the opposite end, if you have a weak arm and/or a slow release, unless you're Piazza, you're Scott Hatteberg, Pickin' Machine. But nobody distinguishes between pitchers, much, based on ability to hold runners close. If you're Pettitte, it's a bonus, but it's not gonna make or break a roster spot.

So, bottom line, weight should go to the catchers, on a team level.
8:51 PM Apr 16th
For teams, the late '87 - '91 Twins having a good infield defense (but on artificial turf). For poorer defensive team: the early Mets of Marvelous Marv ...... a new franchise filled with cast-off players who had not played together before.
7:57 PM Apr 16th
There is a watershed moment in the evaluation of batted-ball defense: the advent of Statcast. It is increasingly possible to determine which batted balls are highly likely to become outs--we can argue what percentage defines "highly likely". I claim that these should be largely credited to the pitcher--we can argue what percentage defines "largely".

Obviously this is useless historically, but I for one am more interested in evaluating active players and teams-
9:48 AM Apr 16th
Posted this in the other Choices article as well:

My first instinct based on some of the pitch framing data from recent years is that 1% is too low for catchers for strikeouts, walks and homeruns.

While we only have data on that for a relatively short time in baseball history, I think the best guess that pitch framing was even a bigger part of the game in the years before we had data. This is because:

1)With their bulky equipment umpires wore in the past is it fair to assume that the job of calling balls and strikes was more difficult? Also 2 periods at least would seem to have visibility issues for umpires. The era prior to the banning of the spitball and the era where night baseball was becoming more prevalent, but the lighting wasn't as good as it is now. Also, just the general point that I would presume that umpires, like everybody else, have improved over time.

In my view, anything that made it more difficult to call balls and strikes would lead to more reliance on cues from the catcher.

2) To the extent that catchers were successful at doing this, there was no TV strike zone to monitor the performance individual umpires. Likewise, because no pitch framing data existed for catchers, umpires were not put on notice that catchers were successfully tricking them into calling balls and strikes.

Anyway, since your past research show that even changing ball and strike calls just a little has an exponential effect on the success of the plate appearance, I would think that the catcher's ability or to change the call is probably worth more than 1% responsibilty of the "three true outcomes" plate appearances.​
8:51 AM Apr 16th
Oh, 90% to the fielders for double plays is low based on the way Bill has evaluated them.
8:41 AM Apr 16th
@bjames: I don't see anyone talking about this on the level of the individual pitcher; I think you're misreading all this. The thing you're missing is that the composition of the pitching staff will influence the overall total, and it's possible to take the composition of the pitching staff's influence out of this. You're already doing this with double plays—by adjusting for assists, you're taking out the groundball tendency of the pitching staff out of the evaluation.

Steals and left-handed pitchers will be my example. Teams with more left-handed pitchers allow more steals for a higher success rate. If we make an adjustment for this, say that 40% of a team's runners on base were against lefty pitchers and league average is 30%, then if we adjust the evaluation for this, that number will be more clearly be the responsibility of the catchers.
8:36 AM Apr 16th
Agree with your percentages on K, BB, HR, etc. up to DER.

Pitchers do influence DER by inducing weak contact. Matt Cain, with great backspin on his fastball, induced a high number of pop flies, as an example. I would do 70% fielders, 30% pitcher.

Fielding percentage, 99% fielders. Sometimes fielders get errors on hard hit balls that are official scoring errors.

On pitchers and double plays, I think of Andy Pettitte. You need to induce ground balls to get double plays. 90% fielders, 10% pitchers.

Stolen bases, I think a catcher's arm will prevent runners from trying to steal. Getting a good jump, however is reading the pitcher. I think 50/50 here.

Agree on passed balls.

As for teams, the Yankees of the 2002-2008 years would be a good team to study. High strikeout pitchers covered fielders who had lost a step. Would be especially good to contrast the 2002 Yankees versus the 2002 Angels.

The 1969-1971 Orioles, great pitching and great fielding.

The Reds teams that moved Pete Rose all over the field. How did his shifting defense change the Reds fielding statistics? Defensively, those Reds teams were strong up the middle. In general, teams that were strong up the middle versus teams weak in that regard.

Your favorite Royals and Rockies teams, due to the triples characteristics of their home parks.

Teams that stayed intact before and after a move, or before and after a park change. How did the park change the same set of players?
7:06 AM Apr 16th
Steven Goldleaf
BTW, in case this is eating away at you, Bill, the software seems particularly screwed up today--took me about 40 minutes to post an article, which is usually a 3 or 4 minute job. Kept giving me all sorts of layout errors, unwanted codes, etc. in the preview version, which I had to fix in the WORD doc (without being able to see the error, so I just erased and then re-typed the sections that were messed up) and then re-load. PITA, if you ask me, which you haven't.
6:50 AM Apr 16th
FWIW, my point relates very much to the team level, because it's about the catching component, and generally there's a single catcher who's the main one; and even when there isn't, in the very great majority of instances a very high proportion of the innings are caught by no more than two players.
12:09 AM Apr 16th
Maybe previous comment isn't clear. The issue of which PITCHER gets how much credit--a ground ball pitcher, a lefty, a knuckleball pitcher whatever. . . that issue will be dealt with later in the process. What we're dealing with now is team data, which is very different. What we need to understand now is the general role of all pitchers vs. all fielders in each type of run-prevention event.

Also, I don't see any reason whatsoever why the Passed Balls and Wild Pitches would balance. Why would they balance?
11:51 PM Apr 15th
Thank you all for the comments. Still Studying. To be honest, almost all of you have not processed the fact that we are dealing with the data, at this point, on a TEAM level, not on the level of the individual pitcher. 80% of the comments here seem to be attempting to look at issues on the level of the individual pitcher--thus, inapplicable to our problem. Sorry.
11:41 PM Apr 15th
One team that I would like to suggest is the 1999-2001 Cleveland Indians. This team featured Omar Vizquel at SS and Roberto Alomar at 2B. Here in Cleveland most fans think of that team as defensively strong, but

1. They finished -14.5, -21.8, and -14.3 in actual double plays vs. expected double plays, and

2. They allowed 860, 816, and 821 runs. I don't see how a team giving 5.13 runs per game over three seasons could be considered a good defensive team (The AL over those three years gave up 5.12 runs per game, so they're average at best)

I would be interested to see how they would rate in this system.
11:09 PM Apr 15th
One way to get a handle of responsibility for Ks: Start at the individual catcher level. Say we look at two catchers on a team. If Catcher A has a higher strikeout rate (adjusted for who's pitching) than Catcher B, we'd have an argument for Catcher A to get more credit, and the pitcher less credit, for the Ks. I realize this is not directly at the team level, and extracting the data could be a real pain...
10:05 PM Apr 15th
Adding to what I said below:

I haven't been struck about any consistent significant differences among catchers on pitch framing, and in any event, I would suggest that it's overrated as a component of a catcher's contribution to pitching.

I would think that the "tone setting" aspect, fuzzy though it is, is a larger factor.

I don't have any sound basis for urging it to be so considered, and no basis to suggest a way to quantify it.
I'll settle for it just being acknowledged and occasionally discussed and considered. In fact, I'll also settle for none of that, because what choice to I have.... :-)
9:57 PM Apr 15th
With unintentional walks, I'm comfortable with almost all the "weight" being allocated to pitchers (in the high 90s). But it seems that intentional walks aren't the "responsibility" of either the pitcher or the catcher. Using BBRef data, IPPs have declined, mostly in the last 25 years, from around 8%-10% of all walks to around 5%. (The IBB data aren't available, apparently, before 1954.) So in 1954, I'd say that pitchers were "responsible" for 87% or so of walks, catchers for 3$, and managers for 10%. Now: 92%. 3%. 5%.
9:40 PM Apr 15th
Shouldn't outfielders get something on home runs? Sometimes they catch balls heading over the fence, and some home runs are inside the park. More so in the deadball era, of course.
8:48 PM Apr 15th
Agree with most of what was written, except I'd think double plays would be the same rating as fielding percentage. Don't see a pitcher's involvement in it and I don't think your example would happen 10 times in a season.
7:17 PM Apr 15th
Agree with most of what was written, except I'd think double plays would be the same rating as fielding percentage. Don't see a pitcher's involvement in it and I don't think your example would happen 10 times in a season.
7:16 PM Apr 15th
On the first group of items (99/1) group. I would give a greater share to the catcher than 1% for the BBs and Ks given the framing data in recent years. This does raise the issue of how you are going to allocate the data eventually to individual catchers (which I believe will the final goal) given the lack of framing data over the history of baseball.

For the HBP and HRA I would just give 100% to the pitchers for simplicity. Not sure 1% of either is going to be meaningful.

WP, PB and Balks, I would give more to the pitchers for WP and more to the C for PB. Perhaps 90%. Interestingly WPs are at all time highs and PBs are close to all time lows. As noted by others there is the chance of a "bad call" from the scorekeeper but I would imagine they would balance out. Not sure if there has ever been an analysis done of the correlation between WP and PB done on individual catchers and pitchers beyond some knuckleball pitchers. Knuckleballers will likely be a problem no matter the assumption.

I agree with B for DER though I think park effects can be strong and would need to be adjusted for.

FPCT, yes on fielders.

DPs, I would guess higher than 90% but not much more to go as 100% does not seem right so a good starting point.

SBs, another interesting one. I remember in one of your earlier abstracts where you discussed the variance in results between individual pitchers and batters and the side with the greater variance in results indicates which side is the predominant factor. I think it was discussing BBs or HBP. Under that logic pitchers would be a stronger component than commonly believed and the 50% level does not seem unreasonable. As there ever been an analysis you are aware of this?
7:16 PM Apr 15th
I agree that our knowledge about pitch framing would seem to indicate catchers should get more than 1 or 2% credit for walks and strikeouts.

As for DER, wow much variance is there between ground ball pitchers and fly ball pitchers? That variance should probably be attributed to pitchers and the remainder to fielders.
6:30 PM Apr 15th
In terms of catcher's contributions to walks and strikeouts ... if you use the most aggressive estimates of framing that Fangraphs or Baseball Prospectus have put out -- and no, we probably shouldn't -- it's possible in extreme cases for a catcher to save 40 runs versus the average by framing alone.

Less aggressively, though, there's reason to think the best savers may have saved 20 runs a year versus average on a consistent basis, entirely through walks and strikeouts; and the worst might have been equally bad, 20 runs worse than average, since framing wasn't a skill really taught in detail, or selected for, until very recently.

That would suggest a top-to-bottom spread of around 40 runs in a year; 30 would be cautious, we could go with 30 as a typical year's spread. What is the typical year's top-to-bottom team difference in walk/ strikeout runs? Divide 30 by that, get our catcher's share of estimated influence that way.

Or maybe add a couple percent to that, to take game-calling into account.
6:04 PM Apr 15th
hotstatrat: mine was rough as well, so I don't feel wedded to it. It was basically what correlated best between pitch framing runs and runs from BB and SO overall.
5:42 PM Apr 15th
evanecurb - right, separating the catcher's contributions from the pitchers is what we are trying to do, but I don't think it is easy. It is certainly beyond my math skills. Statisticians can show, for example, that strikeouts, walks, and homers are a skill by showing how repeatable they are. But, how do you parse out the catcher in those calculations when he is generally catching the same pitchers? Since Bill revolutionized the way many of us see baseball, some very skilled statisticians have tried to do that, but there doesn't seem to be a consensus over their accuracy.
4:46 PM Apr 15th
Even if CharlesSaeger's calculations of 2% influence of pitch framing on balls and strikes is more right than my 4% (mine admittedly was a rough calculation), it might be wise to go with 3% influence on balls and strikes as the catcher's influence on all the other ways he can influence the pitch. If he is responsible for 1% of the blame for a home run, why wouldn't you add that 1% to the 2% pitch framing calculation?

Funny tangent: whenever my wife or I blame the other for some problem, we will argue (half jokingly) over what percentage of the problem was whose fault - pointing out what the other could have done differently that would have avoided the problem.
4:34 PM Apr 15th
OK, I'm changing my mind about the symmetry of wild pitches and passed balls. It is entirely possible, if not quite probable, that when a scorer scores a wild pitch, there is less of a probability that any catcher could have saved it. While passed balls are far more frequently partially due to a somewhat errant throw by the pitcher or confusion over the sign. I could swing in the other direction: WP is 90% the pitcher's fault, while a PB is 60% the catcher's fault. However, I remain open to swing back to my original suggestion as I haven't watched enough games in recent years to be so confident that's how it goes.
4:25 PM Apr 15th
I think you need some type of data to guesstimate the contributions of catchers to Ks, walks, and home runs, pitchers to DER and caught stealing. I’d start by looking at available data for pitcher caught stealing, catcher’s ERA and pitchers’ batting average allowed on balls in play. To the extent that these statistics are meaningful and not just random fluctuations, you can use them to deduce splits in responsibilities for those variables.

For example, if the data shows that catchers have a statistically significantly impact on ERA, it follows that impact would show up in strikeouts, walks, and home runs, and possibly in DER. Same concept for pitcher influence on DER and caught stealing.
4:22 PM Apr 15th
Hey, Maris, I'll buy your suggestion about catchers setting the tone - to a small degree. I think the pitcher sets the tone possibly even more however. He can do so directly by working fast or slow, for example.
4:13 PM Apr 15th
dang: "will face" not "with face"
4:11 PM Apr 15th
One way pitchers influence errors is that a left-hander with face more right-handed batters and right-handed batters (it is my theory, but seems obviously so) induce a few more errors because they hit more ground balls to the left side of the infield which require more of a throw to get the batter out.​
4:10 PM Apr 15th
Most of the time the difference between a hit and an error is obvious to everyone. Yes, the scorer needs to sometimes make a judgment call; that doesn't make the vast majority of each not otherwise obvious, and even in those judgment calls, the scorer is going to get it right most of the time anyways. Knowing error rates also let us know where some non-out plays land, something that's lost for hits.

Similar story for wild pitches and passed balls. Yes, the distinction is often silly, but there is often something to it. If the ball flies nowhere near the catcher or hits the ground before it gets to him before ricocheting to the backstop, of course it's a wild pitch. Furthermore, I've seen some tendency in the data for catchers with good passed ball rates to have good OSB/OCS data, which is evidence of catching ability involved. I've seen no such tendency for catchers and wild pitches.
3:24 PM Apr 15th
Strikeouts: 96 pitchers 4 catchers
Walks: 96 pitchers 4 catchers
Homeruns: 99 pitcher 1 catchers
Hit Batsmen: 99 pitcher 1 catchers
Wild Pitches: 80 pitcher 20 catcher
Balks: All pitchers
DER: Pitchers 50 Fielders 50. Pitcher keeps it in the park half the job Fielder fields other half.
Fielding Percentage: Fielders 100 percent.
Double Play: 90 fielders 10 catchers
Passed Ball: 60 catchers: 40 pitchers

3:13 PM Apr 15th
There's a pretty fine line between wild pitches and passed balls; maybe make both 50-50. And since it is frequently just a matter of one man's opinion whether a batted ball is a hit or error, I can't see such a large discrepancy between DER and FA.
3:07 PM Apr 15th
FW: By contrast, you might have a point about error rates. There's other ways the pitcher can influence this. One is keeping runners off base. About 75% of errors by outfielders do not put a runner on base, mostly misplaying hits for extra bases; if pitchers get some credit for DER, then yeah, they'd get some blame for giving outfielders more chances to make errors. Most (90%+) catcher errors don't put a runner on base; these are related to steals and bunts, mostly. Pitchers own errors are about 60% advancing runners; I'm guessing these are also heavily bunts and pickoffs.

The four infielders are mostly ROEs, but they do make a fair number of errors that advance runners instead.
3:00 PM Apr 15th
FW: Bill is already adjusting for team assist rate—groundballs—to get the DP saved numbers, so I'm convinced that fielders should get close to 100% after this. You could make the argument that they should get the difference before you adjust for assists, of course.
2:49 PM Apr 15th
Fireball Wenz
Fielding percentage - I'm guessing pitchers contribute to this in a couple of ways that have to be recognized, but I haven't studied it. I'm guessing flyball pitchers have better FLD% behind them because pops and flies generate fewer errors than ground balls (you have three chances for error there - the catch, the throw, the 1st baseman.
2:47 PM Apr 15th
Fireball Wenz
It strikes me that there has to be some acknowledgment that a ground ball pitcher will generate more DPs than a flyball pitcher, and that must be more than 10 percent of the equation. How many DPs does Robin Roberts get with Alley-Mazeroski behind him vs. how many DPs does Bob Stanley get with, I dunno, Elio Chacon and Rod Kanehl?
2:43 PM Apr 15th
Passed Balls: I think it would be possible to come up with a knuckleball pitcher adjustment, given known H-HR+BB+HBP against those pitchers designated as knuckleballers. I did a little check some time ago about this and I think knuckleballers had a passed ball rate eight times the rate of the catchers.

I might up the percentage given to catchers for wild pitches once you adjust for staff wildness overall. One thing I observed watching Little Leaguers is how catcher quickness prevented wild pitches. Look at Yogi versus Campy while both were in the league—the one major category where Yogi did better defensively was wild pitches, and that's likely because Campy was one of the slowest men in baseball at this time.
2:32 PM Apr 15th
Pitch framing: I did look on the data we had and tried to map the numbers to walks and strikeouts, and came to 2% as a best fit. (Each one came to 2%, which surprised me, since I figured walks were more shared, while some teams are going to have more power pitchers.) Only dealing with framing, not with calling.

Steals: What you should have is an overall number, then another number adjusting for left-handed pitching. Maybe strikeouts, too; looks I have taken show that teams with high strikeout totals tend to allow more steals. However you calculate it, the catchers' fraction comes out of this second number, then the pitchers get the difference between it and the first number. I can see the catchers getting 2/3rds of the credit/blame once you adjust for the handedness (and maybe strikeouts) of the pitchers.

DER: There are going to be some ways the pitching staff biases DER, though I haven't taken as much of a look as I would have liked. I'm pretty sure that teams with higher K rates have higher DERs. Infield popup rate might be another way to look at the same phenomenon of weak contact—that is, PO-A-SO-PO.of as a percentage of PO-SO. Teams with higher rates of these outs (which again are mostly popups to the infielders, plus unassisted 1b groundouts) here are likely to have higher DERs since these are easy outs.

Anyways, like steals, you figure two versions of this: one with the adjustments, and one without. The fielders get the fraction of the ones with the adjustment, and the pitchers get the difference between the version without and what you gave the fielders.
2:29 PM Apr 15th
I agree that Wild Pitches and Passed Balls should be the inverse to each other in weighting between catcher/pitcher. The scorer is told to weight these 100% pitcher or 100% batter.

Should there be any weighting as to institutional knowledge? That is, scouting of batting tendencies such as where the batter usually hits the ball, batter weaknesses, etc.? Or do we assume all teams do this optimally?
2:13 PM Apr 15th
All I would say about the pitcher/catcher breakdowns is that I would give at least a little more than that to the catchers -- because of a factor that is rarely mentioned. I've mentioned it several times and it has never gotten any resonance, and of course I can't swear it exists but I don't see why it wouldn't.

The catcher sets a tone. Everything about his nature contributes to whatever tone he sets.
Related to the tone but somewhat in addition to it, he's a "support" for the pitcher, perhaps sometimes sort of a counselor-in-residence.

How important is all that? Of course I don't know, but I can't imagine it's zero -- and it's rarely covered in such analyses of a catcher's value, and therefore it would be a thing in addition to whatever we think comes from the more concrete kinds of things.
Does it make the catcher's contributions to the things in this article at least somewhat higher than what is said? I sure think so.
Would I bet on it?
Yes. :-)
2:02 PM Apr 15th
Stolen base - I usually hear baseball veterans say it is 50/50 pitcher and catcher - if not even more on the pitcher, but I have never read a systematic study on the issue.

Shouldn't passed balls and wild pithes be the inverse of each other? Make it 80/20 and 20/80 or 70/30 & 30/70 or whatever - but equal?
1:41 PM Apr 15th
As for DER - I think you have to give ground ball pitchers some extra credit, no? Aren't the chances of a ball in play from a ground ball pitcher being an out or double play greater? And less damage if it isn't an out?
1:37 PM Apr 15th
Pitch framing enthusiasts seem to think it accounts for more than 1% of runs prevented. From this chart, for example, it looks pitch framing alone is more like 4%:

So I would credit catchers with about 4 percent of walks and strikeouts?
1:34 PM Apr 15th
I was messing around with this a couple of years ago, with the idea of breaking down values on balls in play. Here's my thinking... not all balls in play are created equal. If you can identify what kind of out happened (ground ball, fly out, line drive out, line drive single, ground ball through the infield for a single, etc), I think you can get a lot closer to true value. For instance - a lazy fly ball, I give 95% credit or something like that to the pitcher... reason being, I might have a decent shot at catching that fly ball, but I have no shot at inducing a lazy fly ball to a major league hitter. Line drive outs, fielders get almost all the credit. Ground ball outs, somewhat of a split, with a little more going to the fielders. Singles, doubles, triples, same process - estimating who gets credit. I had an even more grandiose idea of looking at similar teams historically and comparing those numbers to runs allowed to see if I could spot variations, but never got around to it.​
1:11 PM Apr 15th
Are there catchers still calling their own game?

Or is all coming from the bench?

If it's the catcher calling the game, I would say up to 5% for walks.

If it's the bench, then no more than 1% for walks.

On stolen bases, hasn't it been the standard that most stolen bases come off the pitcher, and not the catcher? The catcher has to have a chance. I'd split it, myself.

I'd say split Option A and Option B and call it 76%.
12:56 PM Apr 15th
Just intuitively, I feel like the catchers' shares of strikeouts and walks should be a little greater than 1% -- maybe 3% or even 5%. I think a top-end pitch-caller and receiver could make a significant difference compared to a really terrible, Earl Williams-level catcher.

I agree with Bill re: argument B.

I think pitchers should get most of the credit/blame for both wild pitches and passed balls -- maybe 80/20 for wild pitches, 60/40 for passed balls. That both wild pitches and passed balls are so much higher when knuckleballers are on the mound is persuasive to me.
12:33 PM Apr 15th
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