Catcher Pitch Blocking & WAR Update

Back in October, Bojan Koprivica wrote an excellent research piece on determining the difficulty of blocking every major league pitch.

Our WAR implementation now includes Bojan’s pitch-blocking algorithm dating back to the 2008 season. This impacts catchers only, with a maximum range of +/- 7 runs per season. The vast majority of catchers will see a change of +/- 2 runs or less per season.

We’ve also included two new stats in our fielding section: CPP and RPP.

CPP – The expected number of passed pitches.
RPP – The number of runs above / below average a pitcher is at blocking pitches.

You can check out these leaderboards to see which catchers have benefited the most since 2008 and here are the RPP leaderboards for individual seasons since 2008.

Much thanks goes out to Bojan for helping us get his metric up on the site! We will be updating CPP rand RPP weekly (possibly daily) throughout the 2012 season.

We hoped you liked reading Catcher Pitch Blocking & WAR Update by David Appelman!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs




David Appelman is the creator of FanGraphs.

newest oldest most voted
Barkey Walker
Guest
Barkey Walker

A few questions:

1) The catcher knows the runs environment and so might exert more or less effort depending on that, is that accounted for?

1.b) If you have good hustle and, i.e. get a guy out after a PB, that should count in your favor. Does the count actual runs or just estimated runs?

2) Is there nothing to be said for keeping the pitcher from using hard to block pitches with someone on third? Who should get credit for not using hard to block pitches (I’d say the pitcher) shouldn’t this be in their WAR?

Barkey Walker
Guest
Barkey Walker

sorry, I forgot, this is awesome and probably one of the big things missing from catcher defense. Thanks a million for adding it!

Will
Guest

This type of research is very interesting and valuable, but all of the questions you mentioned are legitimate. Considering the samples involved, they could mitigate some of the value of this data.

Max
Guest
Max

Did you really just make a “catching to the score” argument?

Barkey Walker
Guest
Barkey Walker

No. There is a huge difference between throwing meat balls when you are up by 7 than throwing your body around / putting it in danger when there is nobody on base.

mcbrown
Member
mcbrown

Barkey, it’s a very valid concern, but the author has limited the data to situations where a past ball could make a difference. Obviously with no runners on and less than 2 strikes a catcher has no reason to even reach for a bad pitch, let alone try hard to block it.

Barkey Walker
Guest
Barkey Walker

Sorry, one more note. I got the idea for 1.b from watching a college game where the home team ate up 3B runners by having a “passed ball” followed by an out at the plate. The ball would hit the backstop just so and would pop back up towards the receding catcher who would then turn and throw out the runner at the plate. This happened two times in the game and the third time the away team did not move from third on a PB. It made me wonder if the play was well practiced.

While this third play wasn’t worth as much as the first two, it was still pretty valuable relative to other passed balls with a guy on third. So, from that point on, unintentional PBs were not as valuable to the opponent.

Obviously this can get a bit hart to calculate. Part of what is great about having a RF with a great arm is that sometimes runners who could get to third don’t try because of the reputation the fielder has. Obviously, for catchers, this is a much bigger effect where suppressed base running might be more valuable that normal base running even if it isn’t as valuable as caught base running.