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April 26, 2013
This Week in Catcher Framing, 4/26
Last July, Sam Miller administered a blind BABIP test, providing nine GIFs of batted-ball outs and nine GIFs of hits but cutting them off just before the point at which contact was made. The purpose was to test whether we could tell which would be which, based on all the visual information we had about the pitch prior to the point of contact. We failed with flying colors.
So this is a catcher framing version of that. Below you'll find 10 pairs of GIFs. One pitch on each row is a called strike, and the other is a ball, but I've cut them off before the umpire starts to signal either way. All of the pitches are from this past Wednesday, and all of them are on 0-0 counts.
Record your guesses and leave them in the comments section, or email me by clicking the email button below, or send me a tweet @ben_lindbergh. You can just list your responses ("The strikes are on the 1. Left 2. Right 3. Left", etc.), or you can include explanations of why you guessed the way you did. I'm interested either way. I'll tally up the responses and report back next time. Maybe I'll do it again at the end of the season to see if we've gotten any better at predicting strikes after watching catchers frame pitches for the next few months.
You'll find all the usual "This Week in Catcher Framing" features below the test. You might want to let your browser load for a while, so that the GIFs don't destroy it.
The Best (min. 30 OZoneStrikes+ZoneBalls)
The Worst (min. 30 OZoneStrikes+ZoneBalls)
This Week in Molina, 4/18-4/24
It was a net negative week for Molina, but he's still above even on the season. And his best frames of the week were still pretty sexy:
3. Date: 4/24
He also said some very complimentary things about the Molinas to me, which I'll relay next week as well.
2. Date: 4/24
One nice thing about watching a bunch of called strikes every week is that you start to recognize umpire punchouts. Jeff Nelson's is one of the best. It's pretty much a prelude to the People's Elbow.
We have Lucroy's framing valued at 117.6 runs over the past three seasons (in 23,439 pitches) and Molina's at 115.4 runs (in 13,759 pitches). That makes Molina the reigning pitch-per-pitch champion, but because Lucroy has been so great this season, I'm adding him to the weekly update rotation. Welcome to "This Week in Lucroy."
This Week in Lucroy, 4/18-4/24
Weekly Net Strikes: 3
This is a low pitch, and Lucroy gets even lower to receive it by going down to one knee. That helps explain his uncanny ability to get low strikes.
This seems like a solid reception, but it also looks like a pretty nice pitch, and maybe not as far from the zone as PITCHf/x says. On to the best and worst frames of the week among all catchers:
Best Frames of the Week
Stewart has been buried behind Cervelli in the early going, but New York's pitching staff is in good hands no matter which one is catching.
Carlos Corporan has been the better Astros framer so far this season, but Castro's technique looks okay here.
2. Date: 4/24
This is the Lucroy frame of the week we saw earlier.
This is a low delivery, but the call may have had as much to do with Gonzalez's extreme crouch (which made the ball look higher relative to his strike zone) as it did Gomes' glove.
Worst Frames of the Week
Masterson misses his spot by a bit here, but Santana's reception is still too stabby.
Sliding after the catch isn't a great way to get calls. This pitch looks slightly outside, and maybe it was, but imagine what it might have looked like if Iannetta had stayed still.
Can only kind of see the plate, but that pitch looks like it crossed the corner.
Maybe more of a Volquez error than a Hundley mistake, though Hundley didn't do anything to minimize the amount by which the pitch appeared to miss. Volquez had his first career start of at least seven innings without a walk on Wednesday, with Hundley catching, but it doesn't seem as if his catcher got him any extra strikes in that outing:
The new, aggressive Brett Gardner didn't swing, but that looks like a strike. Could be that Lobaton's collapsing knees during the delivery distract the ump. Could be it was just a bad call.
Thanks to Ryan Lind for research assistance.