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  1. Dan Brooks has shown that umpires on average tend to call pitches away off the of plate against left-handed hitters more frequently than any other pitch that does not end up in the zone. Greinke could be not only benefitting from his catcher, but also bias in umpires.

    Comment by Glenn DuPaul — December 7, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

  2. And from his reputation. Without running the numbers, I would assume pitchers that are considered top quality probably get a few more strikes called that a Cole de Vries type.

    Comment by Pinstripe Wizard — December 7, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

  3. That was supposed to be a reply to Glenn Dupaul.

    Comment by Pinstripe Wizard — December 7, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

  4. The question that wasn’t addressed is whether this is something unique to Greinke that he benefits from disproportionately compared to other top pitchers. Is Verlander just pounding the center of the zone with filthy pitches and therefore doesn’t gain as much from a good pitch framer?

    Instead of this analysis meaning that “it’s on the Dodgers and the Rangers to figure out how good Zack Greinke truly is on his own,” it probably means that they would be smart to maximize what they get out of their investment by getting him a pitch framing specialist to serve as his caddy. He’s getting paid, there’s no way around that, and as it appears that it is not really the teams that are doing the choosing at this point. they should be asking themselves how to get the most out of him once they are “chosen.” Looking for a framing specialist is probably a good idea once you look at this article, but as to whether that’s just a good idea anyways if a team wants to maximize what they get out of their pitchers hasn’t really been addressed.

    I’d say that finding whether or not there are specific pitchers who benefit from pitch framers disproportionately to others would be a fascinating read.

    Comment by AK7007 — December 7, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

  5. And also benefiting from pure randomness. What does the distribution of “league-average difference between strikes and expected strikes per 1000 called pitches” look like? Can we assume it is normal? If we can say that, we could proceed to assigning some descriptive numbers to that distribution pretty easily.

    The narrative here stacks up nicely, but what if 68% of pitchers are within +/- 40 expected strikes of the mean? Then the narrative changes pretty drastically.

    Unless I am missing something about how the data was compiled

    Comment by ctsc — December 7, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

  6. The Rangers should trade Profar for Jose Molina to maximize their investment.

    Comment by Pinstripe Wizard — December 7, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

  7. Snark noted.

    Comment by AK7007 — December 7, 2012 @ 3:07 pm


    Comment by mattymatty2000 — December 7, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

  9. Ohhh I know a guy that could….

    Comment by Brad Pitt — December 7, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

  10. It will be a joke if Greinke gets 20-25 million for multiple years. He isn’t getting any younger and he hasn’t even justified his salary since his 2009 season. They are paying for a name. Considering his actual track record (career 3.77 ERA, only one notable season), his contract will be more ridiculous than Johan Santana’s. Ok, so maybe it will be equal to Santana’s including inflation.

    That is ridiculous.

    Comment by Wellhitball — December 7, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

  11. Actually, according to FanGraphs he’s been worth over $20 million dollars a year since 2008, but that figure is just based on his stats and performance and how well he’s performed…

    Comment by SecondHandStore — December 7, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

  12. Slight correction: 1 year he was only worth $18M, but I figure his 2009 value of $42 million kind of evens it out.

    Comment by SecondHandStore — December 7, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

  13. I never played professionally, but was a catcher up through high school. I’m not sure if this holds at the pro level, but there were some guys who were easier to frame than others. Is it possible that his pre-Brewers catchers were bad framers and that once he got a competent backstop, they no longer held him back? Just something to ponder.

    Comment by Neil — December 7, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

  14. Yup, ERA that is 12% better than league average for his career sure isn’t worth it – except that past ERA doesn’t really help predict future performance. Perhaps there is something else about him – like a FIP that is 20% better than league average, in an environment of rapid inflation, while signing with teams that are built for winning now at the expense of the future. Whomever signs him will likely overpay, but it won’t be a disaster unless his arm literally falls off. He’ll probably be worth 4 or 5 wins for the next couple years before declining gracefully – “joke” and “ridiculous” are overstatements/misinformed ignorance depending on your baseball knowledge.

    Comment by AK7007 — December 7, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

  15. I think it would be a mistake to pay 25 per for 5, say. He has only been “worth” 25 one season, and it is true for the other seasons we are vaunting fip over his actual results for a few years running now, some of which may have been somewhat catcher-aided. He will likely get it, and not a huge overpay. He’s a really good pitcher and i’d love to see another 2009 out of him.

    Comment by wobatus — December 7, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

  16. Whoever.

    Comment by Robert J. Baumann — December 7, 2012 @ 5:20 pm

  17. But he probably would have benefited from that bias every season, not just those with the Brewers.

    Comment by chuckb — December 7, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

  18. Shouldn’t all teams though get a pitch-framing specialist to catch for them? Every pitcher would benefit from the expertise, not just Greinke.

    Comment by chuckb — December 7, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

  19. This is a good point. I think a lot of the catcher strike analysis fails to account for the pitchers influence, as well as just random variation.

    Furthermore, using Pitch f/x data is going to be problematic due to park effects (which are small, but exist).

    But I think this is a fair partial explanation for why Greinke has had such a low xFIP the past two years with the Brewers, although I wouldn’t make too much of the effect.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — December 7, 2012 @ 7:10 pm

  20. Glenn brings up a good point though. These “expected strike” comparisons assume that all umpires have equal strike calling biases, independent of catcher framing. Is this true? What do we know about Dan Iasonia’s zone compared to Joe West’s?

    to compare a mere 2000 strike calls against another 2000 strike calls – there are what, 140 or so MLB umpires? Those variances – or a significant portion of them – could theoretically be explained by who was calling balls and strikes in those years.

    Comment by payroll — December 7, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

  21. If you have a slavish devotion to FIP and ignore that some pitchers, like Greinke, under-perform their peripherals over fairly large samples

    Comment by Guest3000 — December 8, 2012 @ 1:24 am

  22. Greinke’s FIP is clearly misleading.

    Comment by Guest3000 — December 8, 2012 @ 1:27 am

  23. His rWAR is listed at 7.9 total over the past three years, while averaging over 200 innings. Could it be that that’s closer to his real value? I know the peripheral stats we like to look at here suggest that he’s something more, but his actual performances on the field over that span seem to be above average but unspectacular.

    Comment by Jon L. — December 8, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

  24. Is league average major league average? If so, maybe grienke benefitted from the NL batting a pitcher.

    Comment by Dan — December 8, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

  25. rWAR does not measure Greinke’s “actual performance”. It measure’s his actual performance + luck and defense. I’m not saying fWAR measure’s his actual performance, but it likely comes closer than bWAR.

    Have we gotten stupider? What’s the reason for the anti DIPS backlash recently?

    Comment by vivaelpujols — December 8, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

  26. A question… if we found a player that could frame a flyball in such a way that umpires called it a homerun, even if it wasn’t (or vice versa)… would that be a good thing?

    I think not.

    So, then why is it OK that catchers are doing this for balls and strikes… which are the core and essence of baseball?

    Comment by Dave S — December 8, 2012 @ 9:14 pm

  27. Can we get a separate article on how awesome Brewers’ catchers are at pitch framing? If we find evidence showing Lucroy’s great pitch framing with other pitchers, then it can be applied to Greinke as well.

    Comment by Craig — December 8, 2012 @ 9:58 pm

  28. Blame Matt Cain, I guess.

    In turn, I’ll try to display greater respect for Greinke’s extraordinary performances, despite his pedestrian results.

    Comment by Jon L. — December 9, 2012 @ 12:34 am

  29. Better yet, can we get a separate article on how we need to utilize technology to get accurately balls and strikes EVERY pitch???

    Screw pitch framers. Catchers aren’t there to convince umpires that balls are strikes… or… at least they shouldn’t be.

    It is now measurable. Catchers can adversely affect umpires on ball/strike calls. Right? That simple fact proves to me that umpires need to be removed from that process.

    I am appalled that a data driven baseball fanatic website does not devote more time and effort on promoting this clearly needed change.

    Are there any good reasons why we should continue to allow erroneous ball/strike calls???

    Comment by Dave S — December 9, 2012 @ 2:57 pm

  30. That’s true, but his big year was 2009. In 2010, and in 2012 with the Angels, he didn’t get much of a bump. I don’t see why umpires would respect him more in a Brewers’ uniform.

    Comment by Cam — December 9, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

  31. As long as the umpires are fair, it doesn’t really matter much that they’re inaccurate. Both teams have equal opportunity to frame pitches,and the theater of it all is just one more battleground for players to compete on.

    Baseball is, above it all, just entertainment. It doesn’t really *matter*. An automated strike-calling system would remove a lot of uncertainty, but it would also remove a lot of the arguments and passion that makes sports fun.

    Comment by Cam — December 9, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

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