June 15, 2013
This Week in Catcher Framing, 6/15
But Max found a fairly strong correlation between framing performance in the upper minors and the majors, so we know that by the time a catcher gets to Double-A, at least, his receiving talents are detectable. That’s a significant finding, and it’s possible that we could identify strong receivers statistically in the low minors or even at the amateur level, if we had access to reliable pitch-by-pitch data. If teams aren’t doing this analysis already, they will be before long.
2013 League Leaders (Out-of-zone strikes and in-zone balls, not adjusted for other factors)
The Best (min. 100 OZoneStrikes+ZoneBalls)
The Worst (min. 100 OZoneStrikes+ZoneBalls)
This Week in Jose Molina, 6/6-6/12
Molina had his least-impressive week since we started this exercise, and even the top three frames aren’t as far outside the strike zone as his usual highlights. But the technique is admirable, as always.
Wieters is tall, so it’s possible to get called strikes pretty high when he’s at the plate, but Molina did all he could to bring this one down quickly and with a minimum of excess movement.
Molina goes out and gets this pitch before it can fall any farther, and as soon as it enters his glove, it’s on its way up and over the plate. The timing is tough, but Molina makes it look easy.
1. Date: 6/9
The classic outside strike to a left-handed hitter. Not an unusual occurrence, but still a frustrating one for Davis.
This Week in Jonathan Lucroy, 6/6-6/12
Weekly Net Strikes: 4
Lucroy might be the only catcher whose glove moves less than Molina’s after he receives the pitch.
Lucroy doesn’t get crossed up here, which is often the case when a catcher fails to receive a pitch cleanly. I mentioned above that it’s tough to time a catch like Molina or Lucroy, and this is why. Lucroy tries to glove the ball and bring it up toward the zone at the same time, and in this case, the ball got left behind.
Everything looked like Lucroy until the ball popped out of the pocket, so the bobble didn’t cost him the call; Iassogna may not even have registered that the ball was dropped before his brain ordered his arm to signal a strike. Of course, as Young’s reaction reveals, hitters are never happy to see a strike called on a pitch the catcher couldn’t catch.
1. Date: 6/11
Peralta semi-misses his target here, but Lucroy’s quick adjustment makes it difficult to tell.
Best Frames of the Week
This delivery by Gaudin has a lot of lateral movement on its way to the plate, but Posey sticks with it and presents it nicely, causing Prado to get gritty at Wendelstedt.
A similar pitch that Posey framed a little less cleanly, getting the call nonetheless. Since this was the first pitch of the at-bat, Marte wasn’t as upset as Prado, but he wasn’t pleased.
Saltalamacchia isn’t known for his defense, and there’s a little more glove movement here than we usually see from Molina or Lucroy, but he got the low strike on a big batter.
Martin tugged this one up so quickly I had to watch it frame by frame to be sure it didn’t bounce. (It didn’t.)
McCann’s wide stance lets him get low enough to catch pitches like this on the way up. This is the 0-1 pitch; the first strike of the at-bat looked like this:
Worst Frames of the Week
Cole’s fastball has a reputation for being straight, but it showed some life in his debut start. Martin seemed surprised by how much this moved. This could be an example of a catcher’s lack of familiarity with a pitcher’s repertoire costing the pair a strike.
Verlander missed his spot, and Pena reoriented his glove rather than shifting it toward the outside part of the plate without turning it over (which isn’t easy, when a pitch is moving 96 miles per hour).
Too much movement. Grandal’s leg drops, his glove darts out, and his non-glove hand does an unintentional fist pump.
This pitch is more or less down the middle, but Pierzynski glove does an exaggerated dip.
Brantly seems to show up in this section week after week. Granted, catching Marlins pitchers isn’t an easy assignment, but Slowey didn’t miss his spot by so much that Brantly needed to push the ball out of the strike zone in order to catch it.
Doumit caught only 16 innings this week—which is still 16 too many—so we don’t have a huge selection to choose from. He doesn’t move that much here, but he still does his trademark head dip, even though the ball is barely below eye level.