The Beginning of the End for Pitch-Framing?

Pitch-framing as an idea has existed for almost as long as the game, but it wasn’t until we started getting numbers for it that people really started to think about it in depth. At that point we were introduced to the idea of a catcher potentially being worth a few extra wins just because of how he catches pitches behind the plate. That was startling, and it was fascinating, but there was an important question that wasn’t being discussed enough — is the existence of pitch-framing good? Valid arguments on either side. But it seemed that there was nothing to be done until we got an automated strike zone. Humans will be humans, after all.

On the other hand, humans can change. Humans can learn; humans can be trained. One interesting observation during the PITCHf/x era is that, over time, those human umpires have collectively started to call an increasingly consistent zone. PITCHf/x provided feedback, and umpires could get better as a result. Now, I can’t help but wonder if we’re seeing the beginning of the end for pitch-framing. Catchers are always going to catch a little differently, but I wonder if there are fewer available rewards.

Last week, I wrote about Jonathan Lucroy‘s precipitous decline in pitch-framing value, as measured by Baseball Prospectus. Used to be, only a few years ago, Lucroy was preposterously valuable as a backstop, but last year he rated barely average. It could’ve been injuries — Lucroy isn’t old — but it’s a hard thing to wrap your mind around. And Lucroy isn’t the only solid framer who’s seen his numbers take a dive. Anyway, in that post, I embedded the following plot. This is strong evidence that Baseball Prospectus has been measuring something real:

2008-2015-framing-runs

The takeaway there: this value sustains. If a catcher is a good or bad framer in Year 1, he’s likely to remain a good or bad framer in Year 2. This isn’t surprising — this makes framing out to be like any other skill. And we’ve all seen what good framing looks like. Everything makes sense, but now look at what happens if you only examine catchers from the last two seasons:

2014-2015-framing-runs

The slope of the line is lower. The correlation is a great deal lower. Relative to the rest of the era, performance in 2014 wasn’t all that predictive of performance in 2015. These are actually the lowest numbers yet.

A table, showing correlations and slopes for best-fit lines between consecutive years:

Year-to-Year Pitch-Framing Value
Years R^2 Slope
2008 – 2009 0.71 0.81
2009 – 2010 0.72 0.82
2010 – 2011 0.69 0.99
2011 – 2012 0.83 0.83
2012 – 2013 0.70 0.72
2013 – 2014 0.56 0.81
2014 – 2015 0.36 0.58
To qualify, a catcher must have 2,500 framing opportunities in consecutive seasons. Original information from baseball Prospectus.

The most recent slope is the lowest, by a pretty good amount. And the correlations used to be pretty consistent, until a step back two years ago and a bigger step back one year ago. It’s not shown here, but the top 10 framing catchers from 2014 kept just 57% of their value in 2015, which is another low for the PITCHf/x era. Because we have just this limited information, we shouldn’t make too much of it yet, because there’s some chance it’s a blip. A dip, instead of a decline. But I think there’s an excellent chance we’re seeing an umpire response to something that’s generated an awful lot of attention.

I’ve had to think about this for a few days, but I’ve almost fully come around. We’ve definitely seen teams respond to pitch-framing data. Some of them have talked about it publicly, and last year there was the lowest-yet standard deviation for pitch-framing value. Teams have understood the importance, so there have been fewer awful receivers, raising the floor. It’s been a point of instruction. Why should teams be the only people paying attention? Framing has to do with strikes and balls. You’d better believe this is relevant to umpires, and to the people in charge of them.

Pitch-framing isn’t just some nerd interest. They talk about it on television broadcasts. They talk about it on the MLB Network, and they write about it on the MLB website. It’s still not household information, like saves or RBI, but it’s known in the industry, and along with that comes knowledge of who’s supposedly good at it. Lucroy has gotten a lot of coverage for his masterful receiving. So has Brian McCann, who’s statistically declined. Just after people talked a good amount about Hank Conger, his numbers fell off. Same with Rene Rivera. Same with Yan Gomes. Some catchers have remained really good, but enough have declined that you have to wonder.

The theory would go like this: more than ever before, umpires are aware of good framers. They’re aware that good framers can get strikes out of the zone, so then that introduces a bias. Umpires don’t want to be wrong, and their bosses don’t want for them to be wrong. It’s not like an umpire would watch a pitch, then think about a call, then think about the catcher, then change his mind. These decisions happen way too fast, but you’d just have to believe there’s some effect. A different call out of every 10, or 20, or 30, or 50. Something that would show up in bigger samples. It makes sense that, if umpires became aware of great pitch-framing, they might become aware of ways to call the game that have a little less to do with how a catcher moves. And you have to think framing has been on their radar.

It’s a really extraordinary situation. Pitch-framing research uncovered an area where teams could gain or lose rather significant value. Some teams acted on that, and some teams have benefited, but the unusual thing about this is it’s related only somewhat to actual on-field talent. The rest is in the hands of the umpires, and at some point, umpires were going to catch wind of what was taking place. And then they could have a response, because umpires don’t want to be manipulated, not intentionally and not for a team’s direct gain.

There is an alternate explanation, or — if you prefer — a partial explanation. As noted earlier, we’ve seen league buy-in as far as framing goes, and last year individual framing value among the catchers had the lowest standard deviation yet. Which means there’s less of a spread between the best and the worst, and maybe what we’re seeing is just randomness somewhat taking over. The lesser the spread of talent, the greater the role of randomness in determining the results. That could get at the lower correlations, and it would kind of point toward the end of framing in a different way. If everyone’s good, then no one is good.

It’s too soon to say for sure what all is going on. And framing will presumably always matter some, until or unless the strike zone is automated. But, within the industry, there’s been a line of thought that pitch-framing value would be only temporarily useful. Could be we’re starting to see what they mean.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


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troybruno
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troybruno
3 months 28 days ago

I got excited when I thought you were breaking news about an MLB move to camera-based strikezones…

francis_soyer
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francis_soyer
3 months 28 days ago

Me too.

Especially after watching the NFL refs basically script every playoff game from start to finish, and then having to listen the broadcast crews make excuses for them.

JaysSaskatchewan
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JaysSaskatchewan
3 months 28 days ago

Why doesn’t anyone on Fangraphs do articles on racism and ball/strike calls?

Gluten-Free AEC
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Gluten-Free AEC
3 months 28 days ago

#BlackStrikesMatter

Owen S
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Owen S
3 months 28 days ago

I think you have your answer

JaysSaskatchewan
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JaysSaskatchewan
3 months 28 days ago

Yes, it seems that way. It is an important issue for minority players though as it is likely costing them millions of dollars. Also, for fringe players it could determine whether or not they make it to the majors.

MajesticOwl
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MajesticOwl
3 months 28 days ago

It seems plausible.

Since white people consistently show extreme bias when they take those tests with the faces and the positive and negative words, I’d be really surprised if something like that didn’t show up when umpires make split second decisions about balls and strikes.

Where would we find the data we’d need for this kind of study (especially the raw data needed to calculate pitch framing, broken out by batter)? I’d think that might be the biggest hurdle.

JaysSaskatchewan
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JaysSaskatchewan
3 months 28 days ago

Majestic Owl (reply to below)

Here’s an article from the NY Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/opinion/sunday/what-umpires-get-wrong.html?_r=0

Here’s a quote from the article:

The race of the pitcher, we found, also mattered, but not as much as other factors. Umpires were 10 percent less likely to expand the strike zone for African-American pitchers than for Caucasian pitchers, but race did not seem to influence whether an umpire called a pitch a ball when it was actually a strike.

Bobby Ayala
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Member
3 months 28 days ago

Sounds like you’re operating under the assumption that it exists, rather than questioning whether it exists. ” It is an important issue for minority players though as it is likely costing them millions of dollars…”

When you believe something you’ve yet to prove, you’re more likely to pay more attention to sources and ideas that back up your theory, and more likely to question those that don’t. As you gain momentum with your theory, you’re more likely to become steadfast in that belief, perhaps even unwaiverable by bare facts and logic.

Sounds like you’re assuming MLB umpires have the same bias as a random white person who volunteers for psychological exams. “Since white people consistently show extreme bias when they take those tests…”

MLB umpires by nature are pretty atypical people, the field they work in is atypical, the amount of diversity in that workplace is atypical, and the nature of their authority relationships and the stage on which they perform is atypical. It seems unlikely they have the same bias as a random white person who volunteers for psychological exams.

The required qualifier: I’m not trying to deny the possibility that racism exists among MLB umpires, I just believe strongly against assuming something is true because just it enforces a belief. And because hey, this is a baseball forum, it’s basically the least effective place to debate racism.

JaysSaskatchewan
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JaysSaskatchewan
3 months 28 days ago

Yes, I am operating on the assumption it exists. I’m referencing the NY Times article above.

Here is a link to the original paper:

https://faculty.kellogg.northwestern.edu/models/faculty/m_download_document.php?id=78

JaysSaskatchewan
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JaysSaskatchewan
3 months 28 days ago

Do you have problems with the methodology in the paper?

JaysSaskatchewan
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JaysSaskatchewan
3 months 28 days ago

I should also add that race isn’t the only bias listed in the sources above.

Umpires also show a bias towards the home team and towards All-Star pitchers.

Bobby Ayala
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Member
3 months 28 days ago

I guess I’d like to see more than this, it’s a small sample size and small percentage. There are other studies that show different results in different years.

JaysSaskatchewan
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JaysSaskatchewan
3 months 28 days ago

Which other studies? I would like to see Fangraphs study it.

The home field bias and All-Star bias data is also interesting. I think anyone who watches a lot of baseball wouldn’t be surprised about the home field bias especially.

It is also noteworthy that more umpire ball/strike errors are made in high leverage situations.

HarryLives
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HarryLives
3 months 28 days ago

“Umpires were 10 percent less likely to expand the strike zone for African-American pitchers than for Caucasian pitchers, but race did not seem to influence whether an umpire called a pitch a ball when it was actually a strike.”

This is the entirety of what you are basing your claim on. We can’t really comment on the methodology, bc the methodology isn’t fully explained.

How significant is a 10 percent difference given the sample sizes of the two populations? There are fewer African American pitchers than Caucasian pitchers, and there are larger reasons for that beyond how balls and strikes get called. So, the sample of pitches thrown by African American pitchers is necessarily smaller. Is the sample of pitches thrown by AA sufficiently large to draw conclusions?

Did the study control for other factors, such as the quality of the pitchers in each racial group?

If there is a racial bias, how come it only goes in one direction (that is, why aren’t umpires also more inclined to turn strikes into balls when AA pitchers are on the mound)?

Why should we assume that this carries over to the minors, therefore keeping AA minor leaguers from reaching the big leagues? We have no comparable study of minor league umpiring.

How come this bias doesn’t also extend to Latino players (possibly bc there are more Latino pitchers and thus a larger more reliable sample size of pitches)?

How much would umpires being 10 percent less likely to call a borderline pitch a strike really influence a pitcher’s success? Would it cost him millions of dollars?

We have a lot more than two seasons of Pitch FX data (which is all this study looked at), so maybe we should look at a larger sample before we claim with certainty that umps show a racial prejudice when they call balls and strikes, that this bias extends to the minors, and that it costs AA pitchers millions of dollars.

JaysSaskatchewan
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JaysSaskatchewan
3 months 28 days ago

First of all, I doubt that the racism is intentional and is probably status related–ie: causasian players are more likely to be given a higher status.

Secondly, I think you missed this link to the paper which is very detailed on their methodology:

https://faculty.kellogg.northwestern.edu/models/faculty/m_download_document.php?id=78

Thirdly, to the degree that your questions remain unanswered, more research should be done in this area. It would be appropriate for Fangraphs to report on the issue and/or do further research.

There are further baseball bias issues raused as well, such as home field bias, All-Star pitcher bias and ball/strike count bias.

fredsbank
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fredsbank
3 months 28 days ago

I thought the registering and logging in to comment was supposed to help keep the trolls out

JaysSaskatchewan
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JaysSaskatchewan
3 months 28 days ago

I’m not trolling. It is a serious issue.

fredsbank
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fredsbank
3 months 27 days ago

Clearly that’s what you and the 15 downvoters think. I would definitely disagree that it’s a *serious* issue, and doubt it’s anything other than a curiosity. But our society is wont to see some discrimination in absolutely every corner it can, so, you do you.

JaysSaskatchewan
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JaysSaskatchewan
3 months 25 days ago

I also posted links showing pretty conclusive evidence of racism.

Bingo Short
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Bingo Short
3 months 28 days ago

It’s an interesting idea, especially since you included a study that found bias for multiple factors.

49 down votes for this, and 84 up votes for a parody of social justice concerns, is curious to me and would have been even more apropos and curiouser last Monday during the hyperreal celebration of racial equality for MLK. Then again, maybe I missed the data and publication that shows all bias, including home road splits, are within a 5% margin of error so there is nothing interesting to see even for people who appreciate data.

Bip
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Bip
3 months 28 days ago

I am by all means what someone so inclined would call a “SJW”, and I found High Six’s comment funny.

Bip
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Member
Bip
3 months 28 days ago

This comment and the vote response it has gotten is fascinating.

I feel like fangraphs, which rarely touches on large societal problems, is not the right place for an exploration of this kind, but I would not be at all surprised to learn that race impacts umpire judgement, and therefore consider this a legitimate comment.

JaysSaskatchewan
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JaysSaskatchewan
3 months 27 days ago

A baseball blog isn’t the correct place to discuss racism in baseball?

imachainsaw
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imachainsaw
3 months 28 days ago

cause racists seemingly feel at home here on fangraphs

Jason B
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Jason B
3 months 27 days ago

Care to provide any evidence of that? Any?

Chris Miller
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3 months 28 days ago

Correlation does not imply causation.

Chris Miller
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Chris Miller
3 months 28 days ago

The worst racist bias I can think of in modern baseball is the treatment of Latinos, who have traditionally viewed as lazy, compared to equivalent white people, who are viewed as gritty, or front-office selection. I don’t doubt it spills out into other areas of baseball, but I’m sure other reasons exist, like differences in skillsets and sampling issues. One example is the differences in skillsets between Latinos, Japanese, and American amateur players. Not everything is racist.

JaysSaskatchewan
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JaysSaskatchewan
3 months 27 days ago

Edward Tuft:

“Empirically observed covariation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for causality.”

“Correlation is not causation but it sure is a hint.”

Jon C
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Jon C
3 months 28 days ago

Jeff, why so much opinion and little research? Are some pitches easier to frame? Have certain umpires who were being tricked by catchers been tricked less? Are batters swinging earlier in the count against known pitch framers? Or maybe swinging more on borderline pitches?

Come on, man, stop mailing it in.

YABooble
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YABooble
3 months 28 days ago

/sarcasm ?

Jon C
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Jon C
3 months 28 days ago

No, this was another lazy article.

tz
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tz
3 months 28 days ago

WOW! Have you ever tried to write about something of interest in a compelling or entertaining way? I tried writing one article for the Community page, and it took tons of time to write an OK but very dry post.

Now try that on a daily basis, generally in reaction to real-time events of interest to your audience. Doesn’t jibe with your assessment.

My verdict on you: troll.

Mark Davidson
Member
Member
3 months 28 days ago

I think Jon C is actually Jeff Sullivan. Jeff has grown to question the actual value of his writing and research that the critical, negative thoughts in his head have manifested in a split personality: Jon C.

Bah boo baaaaaaaa!

Jon C
Member
Jon C
3 months 28 days ago

Tz I have written articles for free and for pay on various subjects. I could manage it on a daily basis if I had the time. Also as I’m sure you know, writers have a lot of things on the back burner and often come across other ideas while researching a subject.

The problem is sometimes fangraphs articles start with a hypothesis, don’t test it, then state the hypothesis as if it were true. In this case, the umpire hypothesis.

Anyway cheers

tz
Member
tz
3 months 28 days ago

Jon C – first off, I apologize for my lazy use of the word “troll”. I didn’t intend to infer that you were a troll (I defended a comment of yours just yesterday), but your comment itself comes across as pure trolling.

As for your last point, Fangraphs writers may have sometimes stated a hypothesis as true without adequate support, but Jeff does not do that here anywhere. He’s presenting factual data and some theories about what he believes is behind it, but he clearly couches these statements with appropriate statements of uncertainty (six uses of the word “could”, for example).

There is great value in getting this kind of food for thought when it is honestly presented, like Jeff does here. In fact, the biggest irony of your comment is that you’ve taken his lead and suggested four great follow-ups, but instead of offering them constructively as next steps you chose to castigate the provider of this interesting (free) tidbit for not thinking of them first. That, to me, is not that far removed from trolling.

pudieron89
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pudieron89
3 months 28 days ago

Here’s a linear regression of pitch framin runs. The slope changed. Therefore, pitch framing dead.

Jon C
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Jon C
3 months 28 days ago

Shh, the herd will get their panties in a bunch.

troybruno
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Member
troybruno
3 months 28 days ago

[Jon C grins and takes sip from his “I am surrounded by idiots” mug]

“Yea, Jeff… take that!”

MonkeyMan
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Member
MonkeyMan
3 months 28 days ago

“the herd will get their panties in a bunch.”

Dear Fangraphs: Jon C’s hostile, non-constructive bashing of Jeff and the community is detracting from the FanGraphs experience. Please consider deactivating his account.

Steven Gomez
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Steven Gomez
3 months 28 days ago

I think he’s inviting further research. It would probably take a while to pore over the data in detail. But he clearly did do some legwork to arrive at whatever ideas he presented here (and he showed his work too!).

MonkeyMan
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Member
MonkeyMan
3 months 28 days ago

Since you’ve already made your disdain for Jeff’s articles clear in the past, what’s the point of your continued negative, insulting posts? You’re like someone who goes to see a band he hates just so he can yell “This sucks” after every song.

Serbian to Vietnamese to French and back
Member
Serbian to Vietnamese to French and back
3 months 28 days ago

Jeff, why a lot of thought and a little research? Some courses easier to relocate? Some judges have been deceived by the photo of cheating? Be the previous point for manufacturers Batters known high? Or perhaps more svinging land on the border?

Come on, man, stop the mail.

troybruno
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Member
troybruno
3 months 28 days ago

Yes! to more svinging land on the border. please.

tz
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tz
3 months 28 days ago

Lol, I see “svinging” and I think of pesäpallo (Finnish baseball):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFJMZnEmxrk

TribeToTheEnd
Member
Member
3 months 28 days ago

Has anybody ever done research on which umpires are most “susceptible” to good framing? In other words, for a particular umpire, what is the spread in actual strike calls between a good and bad framer? It would almost be analogous to park factors for framing.

astropcr
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Member
astropcr
3 months 28 days ago

Yes, kinda. They have looked at the strike zones for each umpire and which umpires call the worst strike zones. I don’t know if anyone has broken framing down per umpire.

https://baseballwithr.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/conceptualizing-the-mlb-strike-zone-using-pitchfx-data-part-ii-2/

Bobby Ayala
Member
Member
3 months 28 days ago

Pitch framing is the art of tricking stupid umpires, so this would be good info to know. Maybe we need a LeftWingLock.com for umpires? Feature it on a fantasy matchup page?

aaronsteindler
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aaronsteindler
3 months 28 days ago

August just recently posted on how pitchers are becoming more effective despite throwing fewer strikes. Doesn’t that suggest that framing is actually becoming more prevalent than ever?

aaronsteindler
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aaronsteindler
3 months 28 days ago

Never mind. I think I just contradicted myself.

BengieStacks
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BengieStacks
3 months 28 days ago

You might not be tooo far off. That increasing trend of balls could very well be influenced by the recent breakthroughs in pitch framing. Elite framers make it a better play to work on the edges as a pitcher. The ever increasing strike zone, which could be influenced by framing, has caused hitters to swing at pitches they typically wouldn’t. Compound the two and you have a trend that, arguably, is influenced somewhat by framing.

I tend to agree with Jeff’s second point as playing the biggest. If the numbers are even relatively close to accurate, I would imagine every team would prioritize framing. Either through acquiring good framers, or teaching and developing good framers. If baseball has been flooded good receivers it stands to reason the elite would less elite relative to the field.

tolskis
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tolskis
3 months 28 days ago

Jeff, you mentioned the previously good pitchers becoming less good, but there’s obviously data points on the graph about average/below average pitch framers becoming above average. The one that comes to mind after last season is Chris Iannetta. Here’s his +/- calls per game since 2008 from Stat Corner (the first season in which he had a sample size of at least 3000 pitches)

2015: +1.37
2014: -.41
2013: -1.10
2012: -.52
2011: -.79
2010: -.38
2009: -.12
2008: -1.65

Chris Iannetta has consistently been slightly below average to abjectly bad at pitch framing. Yet in spite of the trend of more consistent zones and getting older (Rob Arthur ran a great article on age/pitch framing), Chris Iannetta put up not only the best + calls of his career (doesn’t matter what metric you use. He was pretty clearly good.), ranking 8th in MLB (sample size at least 3000) behind noted luminaries like Buster Posey, Yasmani Grandal, and Miguel Montero.

I don’t have access to the BP data, but I’d be curious if it has any different info on him and who some of the other data points to the far right of the axis.

Steven Gomez
Member
Steven Gomez
3 months 28 days ago

Perhaps Iannetta… I don’t know… finally LEARNED how to frame pitches well?

tolskis
Member
tolskis
3 months 28 days ago

Yeah, I mean he wrote this article about Iannetta back in April and his statements clearly were backed up over the course of a full season: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/finding-chris-iannetta-in-an-unexpected-place/

But how weird is that that someone was like “Hey, I’m not very good at this,” decided to try to be better, and immediately wound up top 10? Still curious about those other non-Iannettans though.

senor_mike
Member
senor_mike
3 months 28 days ago

Sure it’s possible, I mean something has to explain the improvement right? It’s just that it so obviously flies in the face of both the pre-2015 data that says year-to-year performance is extremely reliable, and the 2015 data that says pitch-framing is waning.

He is as unlikely a candidate as just about anyone in the game to go from a bad pitch-framer to a good one. But it happened…

Jetsy Extrano
Member
Jetsy Extrano
3 months 28 days ago

The 2015 “waning” is decrease in magnitude, both extremes toward zero, it’s not that they’re all getting worse. So I think it fits.

descender
Member
descender
3 months 28 days ago

I’d like to see this data contrasted with umpires actually calling the zone correctly. There must be some useful PitchFX data for league-wide strike zone accuracy. Maybe they are getting better at calling the strike zone (believe me I know how unlikely that statement is lol).

descender
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descender
3 months 28 days ago

… and yes i realize he brought this up but then he didn’t seem to use it in the analysis, so it would be a good followup article to this.

Jon C
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Jon C
3 months 28 days ago

I’d like to see swing rate on borderline pitches vs known pitch framers each year. Don’t forget hitters adapt too.

MattK
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MattK
3 months 28 days ago

Providing us free information in a simple easy to understand form smh. You should be ashamed of yourself.

jsmit244
Member
jsmit244
3 months 28 days ago

Where is the citation for umpires becoming better at calling strikes in the zone? It would seem that this would more convincing in and of itself. For example plotting borderline calls for the same umpire/catcher pairs vs time and taking some average of these curves. The problem with pitch framing by catchers is it matters a lot which pitchers they catching. For example Russell Martin moving from Pit with a bunch fairly accurate veteran pitchers to catching half the season for the likes of Aaron Sanchez and Drew Hutchinson is not helping his numbers.

jim fetterolf
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jim fetterolf
3 months 28 days ago

Perhaps an idea would be to look at umpire’s individual trends in pitch calling. Information is available and pitching coaches and catchers consider the umpire when crafting a game plan.

Bukanier
Member
Bukanier
3 months 28 days ago

Just had a brief moment where I remembered the days where the *sabermetric community* was like, there is no pitch framing, because if there was, all sabermetrics would be invalid.

Back to normal programming

jimbo22s
Member
jimbo22s
3 months 28 days ago

The other aspect of pitch framing is the catcher “presenting” a pitch that is within the strike zone favorably so that it gets called a strike rather than a ball. This aspect should still have value because it would not be reduced by the umpire adjusting to it in the same way as they adjusted to pitches framed from outside of the zone.

E-man
Member
E-man
3 months 28 days ago

How about an analysis on which batters get the most and the least benefit of the doubt on called strikes. Something like “The Pedroia Effect” – a gamer whom umpires respect and give him the benefit of the doubt more than any other player? Or “The Panda Effect” because since he swings at anything, he’s more likely to get a call when he doesn’t swing. Or maybe it’s “The Milton Bradley Effect” for guys whom umpires were genuinely afraid of…. And on the other side, maybe there’s “The Melky Cabrera Effect” for players returning from PED suspensions, and umpires think he’s mistreated the game so they’re not giving him anything on the borderline the year he returns…

Paul22
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Paul22
3 months 28 days ago

Too bad Jeter retired, he could have had an effect in his name

Damaso
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Damaso
3 months 28 days ago

One thing that might be stressed more is that imo, BP’s pitch framing stats are far and away the best pitch framing stats we have – so much so that imo all other attempts available shoild be ignored.

LieutKaffee
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Member
LieutKaffee
3 months 28 days ago

As a matter of philosophy I have trouble disagreeing with Szymborski and others–that we should just have auto zones.

But man, as a Dodgers fan with the two best framers in the game ages 26 and 27 (Barnes, Grandal), I have a serious vested interest in the framing talent remaining viable for a very long time.

Paul22
Member
Paul22
3 months 28 days ago

Not surprising. When it became public that catchers were tricking umpires, that makes umps look bad, so they retaliated against those catchers known to be the best tricksters, and giving borderline calls to the hitters

Nobody likes to be duped. Human nature

Also, allowing catchers to influence the call means the ump is either lazy or incompetent (can’t actually see the ball or where it crosses), and nobody wants to be accused of that.

I think the idea has come for umpire specialists. Not very ump is good behind the plate. Let the best umpires behind the plate call more of the games. The average ump only works half the games anyways so its not like they have to work every day behind the plate. Maybe hire additional umpires if work load is an issue. The other base umps have replay to cover their mistake, so their incompetence is not as much an issue, although really, it is an issue because of all the inconclusive calls in replay which basically confirms the umps wrong call, But for the most part those are bang bang plays

aflorimonte
Member
aflorimonte
3 months 28 days ago

The correlation could be down because umpires are getting better (more on their game when “good” framers are catching), *OR* it could be down if umpires are getting worse (i.e more random, or more random when “good” framers are catching).

I know there is data out there showing how many balls/strikes are called correctly by umpire, though I can’t remember where. A good test of the hypothesized cause would be to check whether umpires actually are getting better.

astropcr
Member
Member
astropcr
3 months 28 days ago

I think the biggest thing is umpires becoming more aware of their strikes zone issues. The umpire’s union has been actively working with their umpires to make them aware of their PitchFX data and to improve their game-calling. Each umpire can look at each game and understand where they are making poor calls based on the strike zone. This self-improvement could easily explain some of this along with the selection bias mentioned on teams selecting catachers more on framing since it rose to prominence.

wily mo
Member
3 months 28 days ago

i’ve wondered about this since framing first became a thing. i’d see a catcher talk about it in an interview, and my first reaction was like, “man, if i was a catcher, i don’t think i would talk about this AT ALL”

tomjef
Member
Member
tomjef
3 months 28 days ago

If I were an ump, if I saw the catcher snatching the ball, it would automatically be a ball. I think the data show that on borderline calls, whether it be a pitch on the black, or a bang bang play at first, that the umpires are guessing, with a confirmed rate of around 50%, meaning, they are guessing, which is kinda what you would expect with the accuracy only determinable by slow mo replays and computer framing.

But, back to my original point, umps could improve their accuracy, if they would just call balls when the catcher snatched. Or, of course, move to robocalls

chuckb
Member
chuckb
3 months 28 days ago

I have 2 thoughts here before we declare pitch framing to be dead. And I’m really using Lucroy’s season last year to sort of frame (pardon the pun) my questions.

1. Is it possible that some catchers just have bad framing seasons the way some very good defensive players have bad seasons? Maybe he’s banged up, has sore hands or something and just doesn’t frame as well.
2. Maybe good pitchers with good command are just easier to frame. Bad pitchers with less command are going to be less predictable and further from their spot so maybe they’re more difficult to frame. Maybe Lucroy wasn’t actually worse but he was able to frame fewer strikes simply because he had fewer opportunities, fewer framable pitches?

novice
Member
novice
3 months 27 days ago

Mike Matheny commented on this during the season. Aside from his game management, he does have some expertise on this.

http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/bernie-matheny-jumps-to-yadi-s-defense/article_0480a626-9c87-5fb9-8085-62a0cee9ac4b.html

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