Catchers
We come, at last, to Fielders, starting with the men behind the Iron Masks. This is basically a system for fielders, but we had to put in 100 pages of work on pitchers to get here.
Catchers will be credited with Runs Saved for eight categories of onfield performance: strikeouts by their pitchers, walks avoided by their pitchers, Wild Pitches and Passed Balls Avoided, Stolen Bases Avoided, Runners Picked Off and Caught Stealing, and Error Avoidance. That’s eight performance areas, but since "Baserunner Advancement" includes three different things and "Runners Removed" includes two, there will only be five different values in the catcher’s mitt, whereas there were 10 for pitchers. And the explanations for those five should be much easier, since we have already explained essentially the same concepts in outlining the pitcher values. This chart, which I showed before, is intended to help you get an overview of the process in your head:
Category

P

C

1B

2B

3B

SS

LF

CF

RF

Strikeouts

97%

3%















Control

97%

3%















HR Avoidance

100%

















Balks

100%

















Wild Pitches

70%

30%















Passed Balls

35%

65%















Stolen Bases All

40%

60%















Outfield Assists













30%

30%

40%

Pitcher Pickoffs

100%

















Catcher Pickoffs



100%















Runners Caught Stealing

40%

60%















Double Plays

16%



10%

42%

12%

40%







Error Avoidance

10%

10%

10%

15%

17%

22%

5%

6%

5%

DER

16%



10%

13%

10%

14%

11%

15%

11%

Formula 45: CRSKC1 (Catcher’s Runs Saved on Strikeouts)
The formula for Catcher’s Runs Saved on Strikeouts is
(a) The Team’s strikeout total,
(b) Times the catcher’s putouts (at catcher),
(c) Divided by the team total of Catcher’s putouts,
(d) Times .166 (the runprevention value of a strikeout),
(e) Times .03.
That is:
CRSKC1 = TmSO * PO(indc) / PO(tmc) * .166 * .03
Where PO(indc) means the putouts at catcher by an individual catcher, and PO(tmc) means the team total. These would be the first leaders among the catchers on these 15 teams.
City

Team

Year

Player

Tm K

Poctm

Pocind

C1

Detroit

Tigers

1968

Bill Freehan

1115

1196

971

4.51

New York

Yankees

2000

Jorge Posada

1040

1076

892

4.29

Toronto

Blue Jays

1992

Pat Borders

954

973

784

3.83

Detroit

Tigers

1984

Lance Parrish

914

956

720

3.43

Philadelphia

Phillies

2008

Carlos Ruiz

1081

1120

623

2.99

Formula 46: CatControl (Catcher’s Contribution to Control, or walks avoided)
The TEAM’S walks avoided are as follows:
W=Av = BFP * .145 067 – BB – HBP
That is NOT Formula 46, above; that’s just the start of it. That part is actually exactly the same as Formula 2, back at the start of this series, except that at that time we were applying it to individual pitchers, and now, because we lack strikeout data for individual catchers, we are applying it to the team. Anyway, having done that, we prorate that to each individual catcher, based on his innings at the position:
CatControl = (BFP * .145 067 – BB – HBP) * (CInn / TmInn) * .03
Where CInn is the Catcher’s Innings, and TmInn is the team’s Innings.
Formula 47: RSCatControlC2 (Runs Saved by CatcherControl2nd Catcher Value)
Credit the catcher with .236 Runs Saved for each walk not issued.
CatControlC2 = WAv * .236
These are the top five catchers in the study in terms of Runs Saved by Control:
Player

BFP

BB

HBP

Tm IP

InnC

C2

Bill Freehan

6043

486

32

1489.7

1180.3

2.01

Johnny Bench

6191

491

21

1471.0

1071.0

1.99

Lance Parrish

6127

489

30

1474.0

1075.7

1.91

Pat Borders

6108

541

45

1440.7

1160.7

1.71

Smoky Burgess

5805

386

11

1399.7

748.3

1.68

And these are the Top 5, combining C1 and C2:
Year

Player

C1

C2

Total

1968

Bill Freehan

4.51

2.01

6.52

2000

Jorge Posada

4.29

1.64

5.93

1992

Pat Borders

3.83

1.71

5.54

1984

Lance Parrish

3.43

1.91

5.34

1976

Johnny Bench

2.87

1.99

4.86

But the numbers here are so small—five to seven runs for the top catchers—that these categories are mostly just a way of acknowledging the catcher’s contribution. Our ability to actually MEASURE the catcher’s contribution, throughout history, is very limited at this time, although ways could be invented to get closer to it.
Formula 48: BaSvCat (Bases Saved by the Catcher)
Formulas 48, 49 and 50, which outline Runs Saved by the catcher on Base Advancement, are a reprise of Formulas 7, 8 and 9, which outlined very similar calculations for the pitcher. Formula 7 was this:
A pitcher’s "Budget" for One Base Advancement Events is .037123 times his Batter’s Faced.
OBAEBudget = .037123 * BFP
Formula 48 is essentially the same, except that we don’t have BFP data for catchers, so we have to modify it as follows:
OBAEBudget (c) = .037123 * TmBFP * Innings (catcher) / Innings (team).
In other words, for Johnny Bench in 1976, the Team BFP was 6,191. Bench caught 1,071 innings out of a team total of 1,471, so his Budget for One Base Advancements Allowed is .037123 * 6191 * 1071 / 1471, which is 167.83. Bench will receive credit for bases saved based on how far below that number he is in Base Advancements Allowed.
Formula 49: BaSvCat (Bases Saved by the Catcher)
This was formula 8, which applied to pitchers:
BaSvPit = [(OBAEBudget) – Bk  .70 * WP  .40 * OSB  .35 * PB] / 2
Since the pitcher is held 100% responsible for Balks, 70% responsible for Wild Pitches, 40% responsible for stolen bases allowed, and 35% responsible for Passed Balls, the catcher is held not at all responsible for Balks, 30% responsible for Wild Pitches, 60% responsible for Opposition Stolen Bases, and 65% responsible for Passed Balls:
BaSvCat = [(OBAEBudget)  .30 * WP  .60 * OSB  .65 * PB]/2
I see on editing this for the 40^{th} time that I should have spelled out that each catcher is held responsible for the TEAM’S wild pitchers, based on his innings as a catcher. We have data for Passed Balls for each catcher, but not data for Wild Pitches for each pitcher/catcher combination. We have to prorate the Wild Pitches based on catcher innings.
These are the five catchers in the study who we credit with preventing the most Base Advancements by Wild Pitch, Passed Ball, or Stolen Base (C3):
Team

Year

Player

Budget

WP

OSB

PB

Ba Sv

C3

Yankees

2000

Jorge Posada

193

49

70

11

65.7

24.5

Tigers

1968

Bill Freehan

178

38

66

9

61.6

23.0

Tigers

1984

Lance Parrish

166

47

44

11

61.1

22.8

Reds

1976

Johnny Bench

167

43

57

5

60.2

22.5

Pirates

1960

Smoky Burgess

115

25

22

2

48.4

18.0

Posada being first on the list is surprising, since Posada did not have a great throwing arm, and was not regarded as a great defensive catcher. The result here is heavily influenced by playing time; Posada caught more innings than any other catcher in the study. If you look at his Runs Saved (C3) relative to his Budget (which is based on playing time), you can see that Posada actually has a LOWER rate of Runs Saved, relative to the budget, than any of the other four catchers listed above—a lower rate, but a higher total.
But also, while Posada DID have some very poor defensive seasons later on, his 2000 season data is actually pretty good. He gave up 70 stolen bases while catching almost 1200 innings. It’s actually a pretty decent ratio. His record against the running game in his early years is actually not bad. And at this time, Posada is credited with saving more runs than any other catcher in the study:
City

Team

Year

Player

C1

C2

C3

Total

New York

Yankees

2000

Jorge Posada

4.3

1.6

24.5

30.4

Detroit

Tigers

1968

Bill Freehan

4.5

2.0

23.0

29.5

Detroit

Tigers

1984

Lance Parrish

3.4

1.9

22.8

28.1

Cincinnati

Reds

1976

Johnny Bench

2.9

2.0

22.5

27.3

Toronto

Bl Jays

1992

Pat Borders

3.8

1.7

16.8

22.3

Formula 50: BaSvRVC3 (Bases Saved Run Value, 3rd Catcher’s Value)
Each Base Saved by the Catcher has a Run Value of .373 Runs.
BaSvRVC3 = BaSvCat * .373
Formula 51: BRR1Catcher (Baserunners Removed by a Catcher)
A catcher gets credit for a Baserunner Removed when he (a) picks a runner off base, in which case he gets 100% for that baserunner removed, or (b) throws a runner attempting to steal, in which case he gets 60% of the credit, the other 40% going to the pitcher:
BRR1Catcher = PkOff(c) + OCS
This is a "positive" category in which high numbers are good, so it’s easy to figure.
Formula 52: RR1RS CatC4 (Runners Removed1, Runs Saved, Catchers, 4^{th }Catcher’s Value)
Each baserunner removed has a value of .516 runs:
RR1RSCatC4 = BRR1Catcher * .516
These are the five catchers credited with the most Runs Saved by Baserunner Removal:
City

Team

Year

Player

CS

PkOff

BRR1

C4

Toronto

Blue Jays

1992

Pat Borders

51

2

32.6

16.8

Cincinnati

Reds

1976

Johnny Bench

42

3

28.2

14.6

Detroit

Tigers

1984

Lance Parrish

38

3

25.8

13.3

Detroit

Tigers

1968

Bill Freehan

38

2

24.8

12.8

New York

Mets

1964

Jesse Gonder

33

3

22.8

11.8

Let me explain something. The catcher who plays in a lowstolenbase era has an advantage in Base Advancements Prevented. Since he allows fewer stolen bases, he will be credited with NOT ALLOWING more stolen bases. But the catcher who plays in a highstolenbaseattempts era has the advantage in baserunners removed. If a catcher allows 50 stolen bases and throws out 30 runners, he’ll show up strong in "Base Advancements", but do poorly in Baserunners Removed. If he allows 100 stolen bases but throws out 60 runners, he’ll do poorly in Base Advancements, but do extremely well in Baserunners Removed. Thus, Smoky Burgess (1960) was on the leaderboard in "Base Advancements Prevented), but disappears from the board in "Baserunners Removed", while Pat Borders (1992), who was not on the board in "Base Advancements", moves to the top of the list in "Baserunners Removed". Overall, the system is fair to both eras; it just depends on the total of the two values.
These are the updated leaders in Catchers, Total Runs Saved:
Team

Year

Player

C1

C2

C3

C4

Total

Tigers

1968

Bill Freehan

4.5

2.0

23.0

12.8

42.3

Reds

1976

Johnny Bench

2.9

2.0

22.5

14.6

41.9

Yankees

2000

Jorge Posada

4.3

1.6

24.5

11.0

41.5

Tigers

1984

Lance Parrish

3.4

1.9

22.8

13.3

41.4

Blue Jays

1992

Pat Borders

3.8

1.7

16.8

16.8

39.1

We'll finish the catchers tommorrow.