Catcher Defense in WAR

Along with the rollout to the improved UZR data, catcher defense is now incorporated into WAR from 2003 onward. In this case we’ve opted to use the Stolen Base Runs Saved (rSB on FanGraphs) from the Fielding Bible:

Stolen Base Runs Saved gives the catcher credit for throwing out runners and preventing them from attempting steals in the first place.

For the most part, all catchers will remain about the same in value, especially on an individual season basis. But certain ones, like Yadier Molina, ends up with an extra 3.6 wins over the past 6 years. On the down side, Jason Varitek probably sees the biggest decrease in value, with -2.2 wins being attributed to his catcher defense since 2003.



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David Appelman is the creator of FanGraphs.


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Andy S.
Guest
Andy S.
6 years 1 month ago

Yaaaaaaaaay.

Kevin S.
Guest
Kevin S.
6 years 1 month ago

Red Sox fans everywhere want to know when you’re including a component that measures ability to call no-hitters.

CC
Member
CC
6 years 1 month ago

Well no, I’m actually just wondering if the pitcher is taken into account for this. Like, say Tim Wakefield is on the mound…

Kevin S.
Guest
Kevin S.
6 years 1 month ago

This is why Doug Mirabelli exists – to prevent Tim Wakefield from spiking catchers’ WAR. :P

Andy S.
Guest
Andy S.
6 years 1 month ago

Questions though:

1. Does this incorporate “catcher reputation,” i.e. attempted stolen bases?

2. How does this deal with the problem of crediting the pitcher vs. the catcher?

Pitchers Hit Eighth
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

This is seemingly a big part of Yadi Molina’s game. He’s certainly excellent handling pitches, but teams just do not run on him.

I’ve looked into this on my own before, but am curious to see if there’s a way to track it simply and accurately on a regular basis.

tdotsports1
Member
6 years 1 month ago

Maybe Joe Morgan can explain it to us! Now a front office “special” advisor for the Reds!

tdotsports1
Member
6 years 1 month ago

But seriously, thanks for giving me even for ammo that V-Tek is, was and will always be OVER-RATED!!!

ineedanap
Guest
ineedanap
6 years 1 month ago

But, he is a computer! Or robot. Or something.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick
6 years 1 month ago

He’s a giant shape changing jet that turns into a robot, to be fair ;-)

Sam
Guest
Sam
6 years 1 month ago

Apparently, America runs on Cap’n (Tek).

Al Skorupa
Member
6 years 1 month ago

Seems like a very flawed measure unless coupled with pitchers’ times to home in some way. I’m a little disappointed to see this incorporated into WAR, frankly. I’d rather stick with no adjustment for catcher defense rather than this (even understanding its a very minor effect).

philkid3
Guest
philkid3
6 years 1 month ago

I don’t yet know if I consider it worth including in WAR, and I won’t until I see more information about it.

BUT, whether you do or do not, it’s exceedingly easy to extract it from the WAR total if you choose to do so.

Al Skorupa
Member
6 years 1 month ago

Yeah… like I said, I realize its a very minor issue that isn’t changing WAR totals dramatically. Just strikes me as a very strange choice to be the first element of catcher defense included.

Dan Lewis
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

Can you publish the deltas on Blanco and Barajas due to this?

Steve
Guest
Steve
6 years 1 month ago

Did V-Mart give up half his 2010 WAR in one game last night?

Justin
Guest
Justin
6 years 1 month ago

Doubtful. While he is poor at throwing out runners, a lot of it had to do with Wakefield. Knuckleballers are a basestealers’ wet dream.

mike thomas
Guest
mike thomas
6 years 1 month ago

I’m glad that some Cather’s defense has been incorporated, but why can’t you incorporate some passed balls/wild pitches as well?

Joe
Guest
Joe
6 years 1 month ago

Agree with the people who think this is a dubious move. Unless you have a timer to separate out the slow pitchers, it’s not totally fair. Not too mention that certain divisions have faster players who steal more bases successfully. Is it that Boston can’t throw out anyone (partially I’m sure), or that TB, NY, and Toronto just have some fast guys who are good at stealing bases? A catcher with an above average arm still might not throw out a Carl Crawford, especially if the pitcher is slow. Meanwhile, Greg Zaun at least doesn’t look terrible (he can’t throw out anyone) because no one in his division runs.

Ensam
Guest
Ensam
6 years 1 month ago

That’s the equivalent of saying you shouldn’t judge a pitcher by FIP because better hitters will strike out less, walk more, and hit more home runs. So it’s unfair to pitchers in hitting-heavy divisions and overrates pitchers in weaker hitting divisions.

A stolen base against is a stolen base against and adds up the run total again, plain and simple.

Joe
Guest
Joe
6 years 1 month ago

Well Ensam, you shouldn’t judge a pitcher purely on FIP either. But I’m glad we have these discussions so people can expand their viewpoint. For example, is a FIP in Petco the same as a FIP in Arlington? The answer: NO!! If you drop the same guy in different environments, the outlying numbers will change too. And you better be damn sure that the pitcher can translate to his new environment decently enough. So if you’re comfortable just looking at one number and drawing endless conclusions, fine. But in real life that practice just doesn’t hold up.

Don
Guest
Don
6 years 1 month ago

Yeah, it seems like a lot of this would depend on factors outside the catcher’s control.

pft
Guest
pft
6 years 1 month ago

Varitek allowed more SB, but he was well above average in preventing pass balls and WP, and last year is CERA was 1.4 runs above his back up catchers. It would be best of all these measures are inlcuded instead of just one , especially as catchers for teams that do not pitch out much (like the Red Sox) or require the use of the slide step are unduly penalized for executing a team strategy.

Kevin S.
Guest
Kevin S.
6 years 1 month ago

Actually, CERA is worthless, and including CERA differential would not be better at all.

BATTLETANK
Member
BATTLETANK
6 years 1 month ago

Does this STAT only include SB’s?

this doesn’t include Passed balls, for framing or anything else?

Lee Panas
Guest
6 years 1 month ago

This is a nice addition but I’d also like to see WP, PB and catcher errors incorporated into catcher defense. Justin Inaz and others have done this elsewhere. If you can include SB, the other elements should not be difficult to add. That of course assumes you have access to the data.

Lee.

Joe
Guest
Joe
6 years 1 month ago

Let’s put it another way, why do this for catchers only and not pitchers? Considering it’s a dually reliant statistic, it would only be fair to tack some of the blame or praise on a pitcher. A pitcher can keep the runner close, possibly pick off the runner, and speed up his time to the plate. And yet we go only by whether or not the catcher throws someone out. Seems unfair to me.

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