Stealing on Catchers (Not Named Molina)

I spent the last week on my newest tool, which analyzes play by play in order to rate catchers on their throwing.

The task is to seperate the catcher’s ability to throw out base stealers from that of the pitchers they are teamed with. My initial table, extracted from the RetroSheet events for 2003-2008, contains IDs for the catcher, pitcher, baserunner, the hand of the pitcher and batter, natural or artificial turf, and the the number of steal opportunities and total of each type of result for each combination of these factors. For each catcher, for each season and base, there is how he did with each pitcher (the observed values). In a WOWY fashion, that is compared to the results for each of those pitchers, over the past six seasons, with every other catcher (the expected values). The sum of all players forms the mean values. Using a variation of the Odds Ratio I’ve called the Inverse James Function, I then calculate what true talent level would give us that observed value, given the expected and the mean.

The mean CS% for the past six seasons is .243. If a player’s observed value is the same as his expected, then his normal value is equal to the league mean. If the observed is higher (or lower) than expected, then the normal will be higher (or lower) than the mean, with the normal value limited to between 0 and 1.

Check out the top 5. What’s on that gene pool? Bengie, who’s always been a little better than average, had a great season despite adverse expectations, and jumped to the head of the list ahead of his brothers. Jason Kendall has been on a roller coaster, being average, average, poor, average, poor and very good the past six years. Despite the fluctations, averaging all that together, he projects as league average for next year. Most of the values are consistent from year to year.

Henry Blanco is the “career” leader of the six year period, with a normal CS% of .445, and a runs allowed above average (RAA) of 10.1 per 1800 base stealing opportunities. He’s followed by Yadier Molina at .442 and Gerald Laird at .406. The worst rates are Gary Bennett .139, Michael Barrett .152 and Mike Piazza .160, with Piazza having the worst R/1800 at -12.1. At age 36, Blanco has shown no signs of slowing down, having a normal CS% over .500 in 3 of the past 4 seasons.

On the other hand, Jason Varitek and Brad Ausmus, two catchers with a past record of defensive accolades, have both shown sharp downward trends. Varitek’s normal CS% has been .419, .255, .211, .160, .139 and .118, dropping from very good to very bad. Ausmus similarly has marks of .308, .222, .180, .169, .103 and .136.

Despite four consecutive years of poor throwing, the rate of steal attempts versus Ausmus has been at or below average, likely based on his past reputation and the ability of his pitchers to hold runners. Ivan Rodriguez, who in the 1990’s routinely had observed CS% of over .500, has the past two seasons only been slightly better than average at .273 and .275. Although the rate attempt rate against Rodriguez has risen to .040 (average=.047), over the last six years he has the lowest rate at .029, followed by Rod Barajas at .036, Joe Maurer .037, Toby Hall .038, Chris Snyder .038 and Ausmus .040. The catchers run against most often have been Mike Piazza .074, Brandon Inge .066, Victor Martinez .060, Paul LoDuca .058 and Michael Barrett .055.

2008 Leaders

Name RAA R1800 nCS% oSB oCS oCS% eSB eCS eCS%
Molina, Bengie 13.0 11.3 0.420 68 31 0.313 106 20 0.160
Kendall, Jason 11.6 9.3 0.419 55 36 0.396 89 26 0.224
Molina, Jose 8.7 12.8 0.408 42 32 0.432 61 22 0.259
Navarro, Dioner 3.4 3.7 0.367 45 23 0.338 53 19 0.263
Molina, Yadier 5.8 5.9 0.364 34 16 0.320 47 12 0.205
Martin, Russell 3.9 3.5 0.325 68 17 0.200 86 15 0.149
Snyder, Chris 4.5 5.2 0.324 49 19 0.279 63 15 0.198
Schneider, Brian 2.7 3.1 0.312 42 16 0.276 54 15 0.217
Suzuki, Kurt 4.4 3.9 0.303 53 18 0.254 82 22 0.214
Mauer, Joe 4.4 4.0 0.301 51 19 0.271 67 18 0.216
Laird, Gerald 0.6 0.8 0.293 52 18 0.257 55 14 0.207
Johjima, Kenji -0.6 -0.8 0.290 51 19 0.271 43 12 0.223
Rodriguez, Ivan 3.2 3.4 0.275 51 22 0.301 64 23 0.262
Torrealba, Yorvit -1.5 -2.8 0.224 45 10 0.182 34 9 0.198
Bako, Paul -6.0 -7.7 0.217 55 20 0.267 40 28 0.409
Pierzynski, A.J. 0.3 0.3 0.212 96 11 0.103 106 14 0.119
Hernandez, R. -4.5 -4.1 0.207 98 18 0.155 75 17 0.181
Doumit, Ryan -4.2 -4.3 0.202 68 15 0.181 61 17 0.221
Ruiz, Carlos -1.6 -2.0 0.202 65 14 0.177 50 14 0.214
Soto, Geovany -1.9 -1.8 0.198 67 17 0.202 63 20 0.240
McCann, Brian -6.1 -5.7 0.189 93 21 0.184 72 21 0.227
Treanor, Matt -0.8 -1.5 0.186 44 11 0.200 31 10 0.241
Mathis, Jeff -6.7 -9.7 0.175 57 16 0.219 44 20 0.306
Napoli, Mike -4.6 -7.5 0.131 52 9 0.148 42 15 0.263
Varitek, Jason -8.2 -8.6 0.118 56 14 0.200 56 33 0.372
Buck, John -8.1 -8.9 0.098 59 9 0.132 51 24 0.322

2003-2008 Leaders

Name RAA R1800 nCS% oSB oCS oCS% eSB eCS eCS%
Blanco, Henry 24.6 10.1 0.4 128 79 0.382 177 47 0.209
Molina, Yadier 38.0 9.7 0.4 115 89 0.436 190 53 0.218
Laird, Gerald 22.9 7.7 0.4 165 93 0.360 212 55 0.206
Molina, Jose 27.7 9.4 0.4 160 104 0.394 205 69 0.252
Martin, Russell 17.6 5.4 0.4 219 75 0.255 256 49 0.160
Schneider, Brian 36.6 6.5 0.4 259 134 0.341 349 96 0.216
Johjima, Kenji 12.6 4.1 0.3 154 72 0.319 174 49 0.218
Rodriguez, Ivan 44.9 7.5 0.3 236 119 0.335 455 140 0.235
Mauer, Joe 17.0 4.5 0.3 150 78 0.342 225 74 0.246
Hall, Toby 24.1 5.4 0.3 241 94 0.281 335 84 0.200
Ross, Dave 9.9 3.5 0.3 140 73 0.343 172 60 0.258
Olivo, Miguel 20.5 4.4 0.3 214 95 0.307 278 87 0.239
Snyder, Chris 15.9 4.8 0.3 181 67 0.270 241 64 0.211
Barajas, Rod 15.8 3.7 0.3 203 90 0.307 297 95 0.243
LaRue, Jason 5.7 1.4 0.3 198 84 0.298 224 71 0.242
Molina, Bengie 23.5 4.3 0.3 328 120 0.268 416 110 0.210
Inge, Brandon 5.1 2.9 0.3 125 56 0.309 95 33 0.257
Miller, Damian 8.4 2.1 0.3 200 76 0.275 237 74 0.238
Navarro, Dioner -1.3 -0.4 0.3 196 69 0.260 183 64 0.261
Matheny, Mike 5.4 1.6 0.3 165 64 0.279 184 64 0.258
Hernandez, R. -0.9 -0.1 0.3 397 123 0.237 375 109 0.225
Paulino, Ronny 3.7 1.5 0.3 165 51 0.236 158 42 0.210
Torrealba, Yorvit 2.4 0.7 0.3 216 71 0.247 207 61 0.228
Posada, Jorge 5.1 0.9 0.3 428 147 0.256 441 141 0.242
Redmond, Mike -1.0 -0.4 0.3 146 45 0.236 126 41 0.243
Moeller, Chad -0.6 -0.2 0.2 174 44 0.202 160 41 0.205
Bako, Paul 0.6 0.2 0.2 166 59 0.262 166 65 0.282
Lo Duca, Paul -8.5 -1.7 0.2 439 136 0.237 359 106 0.228
Treanor, Matt 0.0 0.0 0.2 139 40 0.223 124 34 0.217
Kendall, Jason -6.2 -0.9 0.2 465 133 0.222 447 126 0.220
McCann, Brian -12.5 -3.6 0.2 254 59 0.188 222 71 0.243
Martinez, Victor -13.5 -2.7 0.2 396 120 0.233 298 108 0.266
Lieberthal, Mike -7.0 -1.9 0.2 264 70 0.210 245 75 0.234
Pierzynski, A.J. -2.4 -0.4 0.2 422 96 0.185 446 114 0.204
Ruiz, Carlos 1.3 0.7 0.2 133 33 0.199 120 33 0.217
Napoli, Mike -3.9 -2.1 0.2 139 39 0.219 128 42 0.245
Doumit, Ryan -4.7 -2.7 0.2 121 30 0.199 107 31 0.225
Varitek, Jason -7.3 -1.3 0.2 366 97 0.210 394 128 0.246
Valentin, Javier -4.7 -2.2 0.2 119 36 0.232 112 41 0.267
Johnson, Charles -0.9 -0.5 0.2 112 26 0.188 114 30 0.208
Zaun, Gregg -11.1 -2.8 0.2 323 77 0.193 303 87 0.222
Ausmus, Brad -4.1 -0.8 0.2 310 89 0.223 349 129 0.270
Bard, Josh -10.9 -4.0 0.2 279 47 0.144 229 54 0.190
Lopez, Javy -7.8 -2.6 0.2 203 51 0.201 193 69 0.264
Buck, John -11.0 -2.5 0.2 225 63 0.219 240 103 0.299
Estrada, Johnny -16.1 -4.1 0.2 285 70 0.197 238 93 0.280
Phillips, Jason -12.4 -6.4 0.2 177 32 0.153 140 43 0.236
Piazza, Mike -27.5 -12.1 0.2 272 47 0.147 153 47 0.236
Barrett, Michael -29.2 -6.7 0.2 362 73 0.168 269 101 0.272
Bennett, Gary -10.8 -4.2 0.1 156 28 0.152 160 52 0.247

2009 Projections

Name Age RAA R1800 pAtt% pCS% Size pSB pCS pPK
Molina, Yadier 27 10.2 10.4 0.042 0.413 4695 43 30 6
Laird, Gerald 29 5.0 6.4 0.046 0.375 3848 41 24 1
Hundley, Nick 25 4.4 8.8 0.037 0.374 1297 21 12 2
Molina, Jose 34 5.4 7.9 0.046 0.367 3313 36 21 3
Martin, Russell 26 7.3 6.5 0.046 0.358 4755 59 33 2
Chavez, Raul 36 2.3 7.8 0.048 0.352 1327 16 9 1
Schneider, Brian 32 4.9 5.6 0.043 0.338 5431 45 23 1
Olivo, Miguel 31 2.9 6.3 0.043 0.326 4438 24 12 2
Johjima, Kenji 33 3.3 4.0 0.049 0.324 4316 50 24 1
Mauer, Joe 26 5.6 5.0 0.039 0.323 4689 53 25 1
Snyder, Chris 28 4.4 5.0 0.042 0.315 4055 45 21 1
Cash, Kevin 31 1.4 3.8 0.049 0.313 1491 23 10 0
Ross, Dave 32 1.4 3.4 0.042 0.313 3145 22 10 1
Barajas, Rod 33 3.0 4.4 0.038 0.312 3933 32 15 1
Molina, Bengie 35 4.9 4.2 0.040 0.310 5592 57 25 2
Rodriguez, Ivan 37 5.1 5.4 0.033 0.306 5588 38 17 3
LaRue, Jason 35 0.5 1.4 0.044 0.294 3343 20 8 0
Quintero, Humberto 29 2.0 4.9 0.047 0.290 1538 24 10 1
Navarro, Dioner 25 2.2 2.4 0.052 0.279 4164 62 24 2
Suzuki, Kurt 25 3.6 3.2 0.037 0.277 3124 55 21 0
Inge, Brandon 32 1.1 2.3 0.054 0.267 1729 36 13 1
Paulino, Ronny 28 0.3 1.2 0.053 0.256 3242 21 7 0
Hernandez, R. 33 -0.1 -0.1 0.053 0.251 5662 78 26 1
Kendall, Jason 35 -0.5 -0.4 0.051 0.247 6670 86 28 0
Torrealba, Yorvit 31 -0.2 -0.4 0.052 0.237 3547 39 12 0
Flores, Jesus 24 0.0 0.0 0.047 0.234 2086 44 14 0
Martinez, Victor 30 -0.5 -1.2 0.061 0.232 4560 34 10 0
Coste, Chris 36 0.2 0.3 0.049 0.232 2126 40 12 1
Shoppach, Kelly 29 0.9 1.1 0.037 0.231 2688 43 13 1
Nieves, Wil 31 -0.7 -1.6 0.060 0.229 1414 36 11 1
Bako, Paul 37 0.6 0.8 0.047 0.228 3044 51 15 2
Pierzynski, A.J. 32 -0.1 -0.1 0.043 0.227 5849 63 19 0
Towles, J.R. 25 0.5 1.2 0.043 0.223 1195 23 7 2
Quiroz, Guillermo 27 -0.1 -0.4 0.050 0.223 1249 28 8 0
Ruiz, Carlos 30 0.4 0.5 0.052 0.219 3109 57 16 3
McCann, Brian 25 -2.0 -1.8 0.051 0.218 4756 78 22 2
Treanor, Matt 33 -0.5 -1.0 0.054 0.217 2582 39 11 2
Soto, Geovany 26 -1.2 -1.2 0.049 0.214 2455 73 20 0
Iannetta, Chris 26 1.5 1.8 0.037 0.214 2684 44 12 1
Doumit, Ryan 28 -2.5 -2.5 0.050 0.211 2837 70 19 1
Zaun, Gregg 38 -1.5 -2.7 0.049 0.206 3916 39 10 1
Napoli, Mike 27 -1.4 -2.3 0.051 0.202 2787 45 11 0
Mathis, Jeff 26 -3.1 -4.5 0.054 0.176 2370 55 12 5
Varitek, Jason 37 -2.8 -2.9 0.044 0.176 5425 63 13 1
Bard, Josh 31 -1.7 -4.2 0.056 0.174 3045 35 7 1
Ausmus, Brad 40 -1.0 -1.9 0.042 0.168 4614 33 7 1
Saltalamacchia, Jarrod 24 -2.6 -5.6 0.052 0.164 1728 36 7 1
Buck, John 29 -2.3 -2.5 0.041 0.163 4966 57 11 1
Montero, Miguel 26 -1.4 -3.8 0.051 0.146 1762 29 5 1
Baker, John 28 -2.2 -4.6 0.051 0.138 1262 38 6 0
Riggans, Shawn 29 -1.9 -6.2 0.048 0.128 1059 24 3 0



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Brian got his start in amateur baseball, as the statistician for his local college summer league in Johnstown, Pa, which also hosts the annual All-American Amateur Baseball Association. A longtime APBA and Strat-o-Matic player, he still tends to look at everything as a simulation. He has also written for StatSpeak and SeamHeads You can contact him at brian.cartwright2@verizon.net


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azruavatar
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Brian —

Am I to read R1800 as the rough equivalent of a 162 game season or do you already prorate a catchers’ season since they rarely catch 162 games?

Thanks.

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