Let's Finish the Catchers

July 27, 2020
  

 

            Formula 53:  Err-Av-C  (Errors Avoided—Catcher)

            The process for assigning Runs Saved credits for Fielding Percentage (Error Avoidance) is the same at every position.   It was explained before in relation to Formulas 20 to 25. 

            First, we figure the TEAM credits for Errors Avoided, based on a team fielding percentage higher than .929. 

            Second, we credit the team with .293 Runs Saved for each Error Avoided. 

            Third, we estimate how many error-avoidance credits each individual FIELDER receives, based on a comparison of his error rate with the errors expected by a player making three times the league average error percentage at the position.

            Fourth, we find the team total of error-avoidance credits for all fielders on the team. 

            Fifth, we credit each fielder with Runs Saved based on his share of the team credits for errors avoided. 

 

 

            The first formula, which was Formula 20, was this:

Tm-Err-Av = (PO + Assists + Errors) * .0708 – Team Errors

But never less than 100.  

These are the errors "not made" by each of the 15 teams that we are following:

YEAR

City

Team

Lg

PO

A

E

F Pct

Errors Not Made

1960

Pittsburgh

Pirates

NL

4199

1774

128

.979

304

1964

New York

Mets

NL

4316

1914

167

.974

286

1968

Detroit

Tigers

AL

4463

1615

105

.983

333

1972

Texas

Rangers

AL

4116

1618

166

.972

252

1976

Cincinnati

Reds

NL

4413

1678

102

.984

336

1980

Seattle

Mariners

AL

4372

1930

149

.977

308

1984

Detroit

Tigers

AL

4392

1667

127

.979

311

1988

Baltimore

Orioles

AL

4248

1726

119

.980

312

1992

Toronto

Blue Jays

AL

4322

1591

93

.985

332

1996

Detroit

Tigers

AL

4298

1727

137

.978

299

2000

New York

Yankees

AL

4273

1487

109

.981

307

2004

Arizona

Diamondbacks

NL

4308

1706

139

.977

297

2008

Philadelphia

Phillies

NL

4349

1698

90

.985

344

2012

Houston

Astros

NL

4270

1729

118

.981

315

2016

Chicago

Cubs

NL

4379

1635

101

.983

332

 

This chart was presented before. 

Second, we figure the team’s Runs Saved by error avoidance.  This was formula 21, given before:

Rs-Tm-Err-Av = (Tm-Err-Av) * .293.

Third, we figure the "Baseline" for each position in each season.  This was Formula 22 earlier:

            Pos-BL = 1 – ((1- LgFPct) * 3)

            Fourth, we assign Claim Points to each fielder based on his errors avoided vs. the baseline.    This was formula 23 earlier.

Claim-Ind-Err-Av  = ((PO + Ast + Err) * (1 - Pos-BL)) - Errors

Fifth, we find the sum of error-avoidance claim points for all members of the team.  That is Formula 24, given earlier:

Claim-Team-Err-Av  =  Sum all (Claim-Ind-Err-Av)

 

And sixth, we credit the player with Runs Saved based on his individual share of the Team’s Errors Avoided.   I’ll write this as a new formula, different form than before, so this becomes Formula 53:

RS-Ind-Err-Av = RS-Tm-Err-Av * Claim-Ind-Err-Av  / Claim-Team-Err-Av 

 

These are the raw fielding stats of the top 5 catchers in our study:

First

Last

YEAR

City

Team

CG

PO

A

E

FPct

Johnny

Bench

1976

Cincinnati

Reds

128

651

60

2

.997

Lance

Parrish

1984

Detroit

Tigers

127

720

67

7

.991

Bill

Freehan

1968

Detroit

Tigers

138

971

73

6

.994

Jorge

Posada

2000

New York

Yankees

142

892

56

7

.993

Pat

Borders

1992

Toronto

Blue Jays

137

784

88

8

.991

 

And this is how we credit them for error avoidance. . . these are the stats you would need to calculate the Runs Saved by error avoidance:

First

Last

YEAR

City

Team

Lg

Team Errors Av

Team RS

Claim Points

Runs Saved

Bill

Freehan

1968

Detroit

Tigers

AL

295.4

97.5

26.6

8.79

Johnny

Bench

1976

Cincinnati

Reds

NL

321.8

98.6

27.6

8.45

Pat

Borders

1992

Toronto

Blue Jays

AL

243.9

97.3

20.7

8.26

Lance

Parrish

1984

Detroit

Tigers

AL

263.7

91.1

23.8

8.22

Jorge

Posada

2000

New York

Yankees

AL

220.5

89.8

20.1

8.18

 

Bill Freehan had 26.6 Claim Points for errors avoided as a catcher; the 1968 Tigers, as a whole, had 295.4.   They had 97.5 Runs Saved (as a team) by error avoidance, so Freehan’s Runs Saved by error avoidance are 26.6 / 295.4 * 97.5, or 8.79.  (Freehan also had some error avoidance claim points for his defensive play at other positions, as did Johnny Bench, but that’s not what we are figuring right now.)   Anyway, adding THESE Runs Saved/Catcher to those we had before, these are the Runs Saved by Catchers.  I’ll give you the top 15, since this is the last entry here:

 

Team

Year

Player

C1

C2

C3

C4

C5

Total

Tigers

1968

Bi Freehan

4.5

2.0

23.0

12.8

8.79

51.1

Reds

1976

J Bench

2.9

2.0

22.5

14.6

8.45

50.3

Tigers

1984

L Parrish

3.4

1.9

22.8

13.3

8.22

49.7

Yankees

2000

J Posada

4.3

1.6

24.5

11.0

8.18

49.7

Blu Jays

1992

Borders

3.8

1.7

16.8

16.8

8.26

47.4

Pirates

1960

S Burgess

2.2

1.7

18.0

7.3

5.61

34.9

Mariners

1980

Larry Cox

1.9

1.3

14.8

10.3

5.27

33.5

Phillies

2008

Carlos Ruiz

3.0

1.3

15.8

7.2

4.74

32.0

Rangers

1972

D Billings

2.2

0.7

13.3

9.7

4.87

30.7

Mets

1964

J Gonder

1.8

1.3

12.3

11.8

1.84

29.0

Tigers

1996

B Ausmus

2.2

0.3

12.5

8.3

4.08

27.3

Orioles

1988

T Kennedy

1.5

1.1

10.5

8.3

3.59

24.9

Orioles

1988

M Tettleton

1.7

1.1

10.6

7.1

3.68

24.2

Phillies

2008

Chris Coste

2.3

0.9

12.4

4.0

3.90

23.6

Pirates

1960

Hal Smith

1.6

1.3

13.2

4.1

3.09

23.3

 

There are three catchers in this study who won the Gold Glove Award in that season—Freehan, Bench, and Parrish.  The top three catchers in the data, by this new method.  Bill Freehan was second in the MVP Voting in 1968, behind Denny McLain.   The top run-saving pitcher and catcher that we have identified so far, McLain and Freehan, were teammates on the 1968 Tigers, but they were also 1-2 in the MVP voting that season. 

Per inning, I think Parrish (’84) is actually ahead of Freehan and Bench, and is the #1 catcher in the group.  I have to say, however, that I’m a little disappointed that the distribution of Runs Saved per inning played is as small as it is.  

A Visit to the Other Data Set

As mentioned before, I am now also tracking the data for all players from the 1961 season.   For the 1961 season, neither of the Gold Glove catchers actually ranks as the #1 catcher in the league based on our Runs Saved estimate.  They both rank second.   John Roseboro of the Dodgers, the National League Gold Glove catcher, ranks second behind Clay Dalrymple of the lowly Phillies, a team which lost 107 games:

Team

First

Last

C1

C2

C3

C4

C5

C- RS

Phillies

Clay

Dalrymple

3

1

21

26

8

58

Dodgers

John

Roseboro

4

1

23

14

12

55

Braves

Joe

Torre

2

2

23

15

7

48

Giants

Ed

Bailey

3

1

19

9

9

41

Pirates

Smoky

Burgess

2

2

17

7

6

33

Cubs

Dick

Bertell

2

1

13

12

5

33

Reds

Jerry

Zimmerman

2

1

12

6

5

25

Cubs

Sammy

Taylor

1

1

11

6

4

24

Cardinals

Jimmie

Schaffer

1

1

9

7

3

21

Pirates

Hal

Smith

1

1

11

4

4

21

Cardinals

Hal

Smith

1

0

8

7

4

21

Reds

Johnny

Edwards

1

1

7

4

4

17

Cardinals

Carl

Sawatski

1

0

6

4

3

15

Dodgers

Norm

Sherry

1

0

6

3

4

13

Braves

Charlie

Lau

1

0

5

3

2

10

 

The selection of Clay Dalrymple over John Roseboro, as much as I can see, seems to be fully justified by the facts, facts which the Gold Glove voters of 1961 had no knowledge of or access to, but which seem persuasive when added to the discussion.  Roseboro is actually ahead of Dalrymple in every category except one, but that one is the one which is documented in the least speculative manner:  Baserunners Removed.   John Roseboro in 1961 threw out 27 of 58 baserunners, which is a very, very good percentage.   Dalrymple threw out 45 of 81 baserunners, which is an absolutely sensational percentage.  Because his team was always behind, he faced much more aggressive baserunning by the opposition—and turned their aggression against them, throwing out 18 of the 23 marginal baserunners, the runners who represent the margin between Roseboro and Dalrymple.   In addition to that, Dalrymple picked EIGHT baserunners off of base (8).  Roseboro picked off 1.   Combining the two, Dalrymple removed 25 more baserunners from the bases than did the Gold Glove winner. That is a BIG number.  That’s two wins, probably.. . well, certainly more than one.   I think that’s a hard set of numbers to argue with. 

In the American League, the difference is larger, but less convincing.  These are the Runs Saved:

Team

First

Last

C1

C2

C3

C4

C5

C- RS

Indians

John

Romano

3

2

28

17

8

58

Twins

Earl

Battey

4

2

27

11

8

51

Yankees

Elston

Howard

3

1

22

10

6

43

Orioles

Gus

Triandos

3

1

20

11

7

42

White Sox

Sherm

Lollar

2

2

20

11

5

40

Tigers

Dick

Brown

2

1

18

13

5

39

Red Sox

Jim

Pagliaroni

3

1

21

8

6

39

Angels

Earl

Averill

2

1

13

9

5

31

Athletics

Haywood

Sullivan

2

1

16

9

4

31

Tigers

Mike

Roarke

2

1

14

7

4

28

Athletics

Joe

Pignatano

2

1

15

7

4

28

White Sox

Cam

Carreon

2

1

13

5

4

25

Senators

Gene

Green

1

1

12

5

3

23

Senators

Pete

Daley

1

1

10

8

3

23

Red Sox

Russ

Nixon

1

1

11

4

3

20

Angels

Ed

Sadowski

1

0

9

3

3

17

Yankees

Johnny

Blanchard

1

1

9

3

3

16

Orioles

Hank

Foiles

1

0

5

4

2

12

Angels

Del

Rice

1

0

4

5

1

12

Indians

Valmy

Thomas

1

0

5

4

2

12

Twins

Hal

Naragon

1

0

5

3

2

11

 

As is true in the NL, Romano’s edge comes in the "Runners Removed" category.   Romano threw out 31 of 79 would-be base stealers, Battey 19 out of 52.   Romano threw out 12 more runners, and did have a slightly better percentage.  But in the NL, Dalrymple faced more base stealers than Roseboro because he played for a horrible team, whereas Roseboro played for a good team.   In the AL, the Indians were 7½ games better than the Twins, so it’s not that.   Romano faced more base stealers because Battey had a famously outstanding throwing arm, and also because Romano caught 113 more innings than Battey did.  

Battey and Romano were teammates on the 1959 Chicago White Sox, both just young players with limited playing time.  You probably know this, but the White Sox after the 1959 season had the worst trading winter in the history of baseball.  In addition to trading away Battey and Romano, they also traded away Norm Cash, Johnny Callison, Don Mincher and Barry Latman, all young players whose futures were ahead of them, in exchange for aging veterans. 

Romano is a really interesting player, to me, as many of the guys who were young players when you were young are interesting to you.  In 1959, 53 games and 126 at bats, he hit .294 with a .407 on base percentage and an .875 OPS.  From 1960 to 1962 Romano appeared to be headed to a brilliant career, perhaps even a Hall of Fame career.  He put on a lot of weight in 1963-1964, and his career ended soon after that.   In several ways, Romano is like Joe Torre—both Italian, both catchers, both very good hitters, both had weight management problems, both came up about the same time, both regarded as good defensive catchers their first few years, but their glove reputations spoiled quickly after that.   Torre dealt brilliantly with his weight and defensive challenges.   He lost weight, had a long career, won an MVP Award as a third baseman, and developed into one of the great gentlemen in the game.  Romano wasn’t able to deal with it.  He is not remembered as a strong defensive catcher, and the argument that he should have won the Gold Glove in 1961, rather than Battey, is not convincing. 

Another thing we can do is, we can convert these numbers into a +/- zero-centered system, like the other defensive ratings.  These are the National League leaders and lasters:

Team

First

Last

+/-

Phillies

Clay

Dalrymple

+12

Dodgers

John

Roseboro

+5

Cardinals

Hal

Smith

+4

Pirates

Hal

Smith

-3

Cubs

Sammy

Taylor

-3

Pirates

Smoky

Burgess

-3

 

There are the two Hal Smiths in the National League, the one with the Cardinals and the one with the Pirates.   And these are the American League:

Team

First

Last

+/-

Tigers

Dick

Brown

+6

White Sox

Sherm

Lollar

+3

Angels

Del

Rice

+2

Yankees

Johnny

Blanchard

-2

Red Sox

Russ

Nixon

-2

Senators

Gene

Green

-6

 

            Green is interesting, too.  His batting numbers are really impressive that season, remembering that he was a catcher playing in a tough park for a hitter.  In 110 games he hit .280 with 18 homers, 62 RBI, really one of the better-hitting catchers in baseball.   But he never played much after that season, because (a) he was a bad defensive catcher, (b) he grounded into 26 double plays in 364 at bats—about THREE TIMES the normal double play rate—and (c) as of August 2 he was hitting .314 with a whopping .961 (!!) OPS.   But then he slumped the rest of the year, wound up the season playing right field.  He wasn’t good there, either.  

 
 

COMMENTS (7 Comments, most recent shown first)

scstomper
Considering their performance in this study, albeit limited, and their overall defensive and offensive numbers - why don't Freehan and Parrish get more HOF consideration?
12:32 AM Aug 5th
 
Brock Hanke
I remember the Hal Smiths, since I started following baseball in 1954 in St. Louis. To keep them straight in my head, I started referring to the Cardinal Hal Smith as "Hal Smith the Glove", and the Pirate one as "Hal Smith the Bat."

Hal Smith the Glove was one reason that the Cardinals were able to play Carl Sawatski as their starting catcher. Sawatski, a born DH, had an arm, so people always tried to make a catcher out of him. Hal Smith allowed the Cards to have a very good defensive replacement for late inning leads and for Sawatski's days off.

Hal Smith the Bat was, of course, most famous for a homer he hit in the 1960 World Series. Your numbers here certainly are in line with their defensive reputations.
4:07 AM Aug 2nd
 
Fireball Wenz
Triandos shows well despite having to catch Wilhelm and being notoriously slow.
10:15 AM Jul 28th
 
TheRicemanCometh
When you placed everything on a +/- zero scale, what is the "zero" run value?
6:12 AM Jul 28th
 
W.T.Mons10
"I’m a little disappointed that the distribution of Runs Saved per inning played is as small as it is."

As Woody Allen said, 80% of success in life is just showing up.
8:03 PM Jul 27th
 
bjames
It would seem to me that if an error can occur on either part of the process, then the fielding percentage needs to include all parts of the process. Many errors, if not most errors, occur on assists. I don't see the logic for excluding them.
3:18 PM Jul 27th
 
DJ_Man
Just wondering whether Team FPct (and League FPct for that matter) has a flawed definition.

While it makes sense for the individual player to be assessed for each ball handled, shouldn’t the team fielding percentage be based on just putouts and errors? The conventional formula is double-counting for assisted outs, which are no more valuable than unassisted outs or strikeouts so far as preventing runs.

Or am I missing something? Maybe teams with lots of assists deserve the extra credit?
12:30 PM Jul 27th
 
 
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