Revisiting Catching and Defense
by, 07-31-2013 at 07:02 PM (552 Views)
My last blog topic on catcher defense was last November. The trade of Butera has prompted a revisit.
Through July 26 while Ryan Doumit was catching, 46 out of zone balls were called strikes and 205 in zone strikes were called balls. They convert it to a ratio which for Doumit would be 0.22 extra strikes/lost strikes. That ratio is the worst in baseball and the next for a current catcher is twice the ratio at 0.44. The data is from Baseball Prospectus.
How much difference does that make in terms of runs? Mike Fast used Dan Turkenkopf's study showing that reversing a strike into a ball is worth 0.13 runs.
You can and will argue that validity of both but many teams are using this work. Ben Lindbergh had a great series of interviews including executives, catchers, coaches, pitchers and umpires earlier this year.
So Doumit had caught 291.2 innings through July 26. He had a net of 159 lost strikes. Converting that into runs and using a per 9 inning measure, Doumit has impacted the game by 0.64 runs per 9 innings this year.
Many of you will join the Twins in ignoring this data.
Shouldn't the Twins wonder why the Dodgers with a back up catcher with an OPS of .590 didn't go after Doumit?
Instead, they added Butera. Butera can't hit. He can catch. Through 2012 had been about even in the strike/ball counts. He is very good in other measures and may be very good in receiving the ball.
Earlier this year Ramon Hernandez was the Dodgers back up catcher with an OPS over .700. They dropped Hernandez for the more skilled receiver in Federowicz. Federowicz can't match Hernandez' hitting. He can catch. Look for quotes from Steve Yeager in the top article below about the Dodgers and catcher defense.
Do you want the Twins to continue to ignore this data from pitch f/x?
Could it be that the Rays, Yankees, Dodgers, Pirates and Diamondbacks are off base in seeking catchers for their ability to receive the ball?
How much does Doumit cost the team with his defense? It must be something, but 0.64 seems very high. Even if it is half that, is it possible that we have been employing the wrong back up catcher this year?
Edit: to add offensive comparison.
Doumit has created 40 runs this year (Baseball Reference) in 372 plate appearances. That is 0.43 runs per 4 plate appearances.
Last year, Butera created 8 runs in 122 plate appearances or 0.26 per game.
The difference in the offense while playing Doumit is about 0.17. Could Butera have made up that difference with his defense at catcher?
The Twins probably expected Doumit to do as well as last year's 0.51 per 4 PA. That is 0.25 runs per 4 PA better than they might have expected from Butera.
Did the Twins employ the best back up catcher?