FanGraphs Baseball


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  1. Thanks Max, this is awesome! I’d love to see the WOWY calculations (I’d do myself if I had the time).

    I do wonder how much of any organization’s emphasis on catcher defense is negated by inattention to the pitcher’s role in stopping the running game. Here are the four general scenarios on preventing the running game:

    Pitchers good, catchers good: running game thwarted

    Pitchers good, catchers bad: running game slowed somewhat, but catchers’ skills may be overrated

    Pitchers bad, catchers bad: running game becomes serious issue, team will either (a) seek to “upgrade” catcher [not necessarily right choice] or (b) work with pitchers on holding runners better [better choice]

    Pitchers bad, catchers good: skills of catcher wasted, maybe leading to replacement of perfectly capable catcher.

    Overall, though there’s not an “inefficiency” to exploit here, there are plenty of opportunities to avoid mistakes in correcting for an inability to stop the running game.

    Comment by tz — September 3, 2013 @ 11:42 am

  2. And these numbers only include CS plays that involve the pitcher and the catcher right? So a pick off move/play by the pitcher isn’t included, right?

    Comment by Wil — September 3, 2013 @ 11:49 am

  3. I’d like to see the numbers for 2007 Josh Bard and the Padres. 10 out 131 attempts caught stealing.

    Comment by Benzedrine — September 3, 2013 @ 11:59 am

  4. Yes these are certainly situations that some WOWY method would be able to exploit.
    WOWY is probably where I go next in my next article.
    Glad you enjoyed it!

    Comment by Max Weinstein — September 3, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

  5. I can tell you right now that would easily surpass -20 bBRS. I am in the process of doing a more comprehensive leader board of the 2000′s.

    Comment by Max Weinstein — September 3, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

  6. I was actually thinking about this just yesterday. Is there a way to separate out the individual component of controlling the running game and include it in calculations of WAR? It certainly seems to be a skill that pitchers have and can control and therefore should not be grouped in with the random variation in performance attributed to defense.

    Just as an Orioles fan watching Scott Feldman, he is absolutely horrendous at controlling the running game (as confirmed by these numbers). I wonder how much of an effect this has had on why he very consistently does worse than his FIP and xFIP. As a ground ball, contact pitcher, it’s important for him to keep the runner on first to preserve the double play and it seems to me that his inability to do so is a glaring flaw in his game.

    I suspect this may be similar to baserunning – for most players, it probably doesn’t matter much in terms of your overall value, but if you’re at the ends of the spectrum it does show up as an important factor.

    Comment by Jack — September 3, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

  7. I think, if anything, this article just proves how much more important the pitcher is in stopping the running game than the catcher is.

    The fact that JP Arencibia is near the top of the list with Buerhle while being a horrific catcher in pretty much all aspects of the position defensively(and offensively for that matter) is far more of an indication of how good Buehrle is.

    Comment by Johnhavok — September 3, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

  8. Just to expand on that thought, basically what i’m saying is having a pitcher with a great move to first is far an away the best defense against the SB. I think the catcher becomes more important as you get into the pitcher’s with average moves, and then far less important when you get into pitchers with awful moves or who always pitch out of the windup rather than the stretch with guys on base, ie Sergio Santos.

    One other thing, how would this account for busted hit and run attempts which I would think have a much higher CS% than a traditional SB attempt since the runenr at 1st isnt trying for a huge lead or great jump?

    Comment by Johnhavok — September 3, 2013 @ 12:29 pm

  9. This can be valuable tool to fantasy players, especially ones in leagues w/ daily transactions in terms of streaming speed.

    On the Worst list: I wonder if teams are less aggressive at holding runners on and trying to throw them out with leads late in the game. Like with Walden pitching if the Braves have a 3-run lead in the 8th, are they really going to be as watchful of the runner as they would be if it was a tie game in the 5th with Minor pitching?

    Comment by Double J — September 3, 2013 @ 12:41 pm

  10. Really good stuff, Max. It would be interesting to see how different the numbers are for RHP vs. LHP. We tend to think that LHP have an easier time holding runners on than RHP do. I wonder how many runs an average LHP saves over a RHP simply by being left handed.

    Comment by chuckb — September 3, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

  11. One interesting aspect, however, is the value of the CS. Since it is better for the defense to have a runner out at second then safe at first, wouldn’t a catcher on whom everyone runs but he throws out an average or slightly above-average rate be more valuable than one on whom no one ever runs?

    Comment by Skore — September 3, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

  12. “and apply a run value to the difference”

    According to what?

    Comment by astrostl — September 3, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

  13. Super article Mr Weinstein , Bravo et Merci .

    Comment by herve houchoua — September 3, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

  14. I am surprised none of the Nationals pitchers show up on bottom 25 list because pretty much all of them seem very slow to the plate with runners on. also surprised to see suzuki on bottom 25 list because I do not find fault with him on running game.

    Comment by binqasim — September 3, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

  15. Great research!

    Comment by Ivan Grushenko — September 3, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

  16. Well if you think all the Nats pitchers are bad, then maybe the factor influencing all of them is the Catcher. He drags down the entire staff!

    Comment by NATS Fan — September 3, 2013 @ 5:46 pm

  17. Great stuff, as always, Max.

    Comment by Bradley Woodrum — September 3, 2013 @ 6:44 pm

  18. If pitchers are slow to the plate, there is hardly anything catcher can do in stopping the running game. You seen Drew, Clip, Gio, Stras (who has improved a bit this season, compared to last).

    Comment by binqasim — September 3, 2013 @ 10:27 pm

  19. I wish they were collecting ‘pace’ split by men on base against empty.

    Comment by binqasim — September 3, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

  20. Nice article, Max!

    If I understand things correctly, bBRS is scaled by IP. So if a battery works for twice as many innings with the same performance, they’ll get twice the bBRS (which may be positive or negative). For ranking the batteries, that seems necessary because some of the IP values are small. But for the rankings of individual pitchers and catchers, would it make sense to normalize by IP and sort by bBRS/IP?

    Comment by Marco Zarco — September 4, 2013 @ 12:42 am

  21. Actually, normalizing the bBRS for catchers and pitchers seems completely reasonable, by bBRS/IP or by a z-score. Especially considering that catchers tend to have 5 or 6 times the innings as a pitcher. Good advice.

    Comment by Max Weinstein — September 4, 2013 @ 12:52 am

  22. Appreciate it, Bradley!

    Comment by Max Weinstein — September 4, 2013 @ 12:54 am

  23. Theoretically, yes, a CS is the highest value in terms of run values in our sample. But then again since the premise is to quantify running game prevention we have to evaluate how many SBA the battery saved above what the average battery would have allowed in the same amount of innings.

    Comment by Max Weinstein — September 4, 2013 @ 12:59 am

  24. Really Fantastic work. Very encouraging to see Weiters is as good as I think he is.

    Comment by Tristan — September 4, 2013 @ 1:52 am

  25. Maybe I’m misunderstanding exactly how you calculated this, but by using attempted and caught stealing numbers on a per inning rather than per baserunner basis, aren’t you giving a (probably very slight) bonus to the pitchers with the lowest WHIPs as they will have fewer baserunners/SB opportunities? While that would be an important part of limiting stolen bases as much as possible, it seems to be a separate skill from the one you’re focusing on here.

    Either way, wonderful article and very interesting research!

    Comment by Owen — September 4, 2013 @ 4:01 am

  26. Amazing Brian McCann isn’t on either catching top 25 list! He cracks the top duoes with Minor, but I thought it interesting in evaluating his free agent status (and how much of an upgrade he’d be over Salty as a Sox fan).

    So Lucroy is in the bottom 25 catchers, but on the top 25 with Gallardo, and somehow Gallardo is not in the top 25 pitchers? I don’t know about the math, but the logic is certainly flawed!

    Comment by SKob — September 4, 2013 @ 10:10 am

  27. Meant to add – love the article and the concept in general! Great info! Would love to see more of this in the offseason to get the whole season info and more data on some of the young guys!

    Comment by SKob — September 4, 2013 @ 10:16 am

  28. Great work! Would be interesting to see a correlation between a pitcher’s ability to control the running game and the difference between his ERA and FIP. As was suggested earlier, (assuming this is a repeatable skill) finding a way to incorporate this into FIP would be great.

    Comment by Nolan — September 4, 2013 @ 10:50 am

  29. Thanks. If you check again, Gallardo – Lucroy have a bBRS of -2.74, ranking as one of the worst batteries.

    Comment by Max Weinstein — September 4, 2013 @ 11:20 am

  30. Possibly. The point is that the pitcher that allows the fewest men on base will probably limit SBA, which is what we are looking for — on top of preventing them when they do run. However, I think its probably a slight bias. Anyways, it is probably a point to look into in the next article. Thanks!

    Comment by Max Weinstein — September 4, 2013 @ 11:31 am

  31. Surprised to not see Dickey on the worst. I know he throws a harder knuckler than most but you’d think runners could still get a pretty huge jump on it.

    Comment by Scott — September 4, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

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