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April 4, 2014

Painting the Black

Nathan Eovaldi and the Jarrod Saltalamacchia Effect

by R.J. Anderson


For as much as we focus on catcher defense these days, the battery dynamic remains beyond our grasp. We know pitchers and catchers work together to form a gameplan and negotiate pitch type and location, but the heavy lifting is often left in the dark. What illumination we do receive often shines from second-hand knowledge, or analysis that is prone to fundamental attribution errors. As a result, analyzing gamecalling and the like is a tough, if not impossible, pursuit from outside a team's walls.

Yet sometimes we do get a glimpse of the inner-workings of a relationship. Take Sam Miller's piece from last September on the Jeff Mathis-Jose Fernandez battery. Miller examined just how Mathis had impacted Fernandez's game, and found some evidence that the oft-derided backstop helped the oft-admired hurler more than we might have thought. The case? An increased usage in curveballs.

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Related Content:  Miami Marlins,  Catcher Defense

6 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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John Geer
(44)

Good companion to Thorburn's Raising Aces piece today about Opening Day aces, where he mentions Salty handling Jose Fernandez very well the day before Eovaldi's start. Interesting.

Apr 04, 2014 05:06 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member R.J. Anderson
BP staff

I remember reading an article by one of the Boston writers last season (Britton maybe?) about Saltalamacchia's improvements as a defender—particularly when it came to staff-handling. So it seems like there might be some validity there after all.

Apr 04, 2014 07:00 AM
 
BP staff member R.J. Anderson
BP staff

Found it. (Well, the cached version.)

Topical quote:

“Salty did a great job for me behind the plate,” Lackey said. “Taking a year off, I’ve really been impressed with the way he’s been able to incorporate game plans and call games. He’s made it easier on me, for sure.”

Apr 04, 2014 08:25 AM
 
tannerg

Loved this! This is why I subscribe.

Apr 04, 2014 07:25 AM
rating: 1
 
MikeMcD

What is a back-foot slider? Does this refer to where the ball breaks toward on a left handed hitter?

Apr 04, 2014 08:31 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member R.J. Anderson
BP staff

Basically it's when a pitcher throws a slider to an opposite-handed batter and the ball's break takes it toward the batter's back foot. The Gonzalez pictures in the piece shows one example, but here's another courtesy of Chris Sale:



Apr 04, 2014 08:43 AM
 
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