Blind framing test results and the best and worst receivers of the week and the season.
Let’s start with the results of last week’s blind framing test. (If you haven't taken it, and you want to know, go back and do it before you see spoilers.) I gave you 10 pairs of pitches, with one called strike and one ball in each pair, and asked you to tell me which was which. The catch was, I cut off the umpire calls at the end of the clips (because, well, it would've been pretty easy otherwise). These were the strikes:
1. Left, Morrow vs. Machado
2. Right, Halladay vs. Jones
3. Right, Volquez vs. Betancourt
4. Left, Pettitte vs. Molina
5. Left, Latos vs. Navarro
6. Right, Resop vs. Gomes
7. Right, Halladay vs. McDonald
8. Left, Harrell vs. Seager
9. Left, Roth vs. Kinsler
10. Right, Anderson vs. Ortiz
Ben and Sam discuss whether a pitcher's body language can cost him strikes, whether it's worth trading for relievers early in the season, a study about perceptions of steroid use, and whether a low BABIP is always unlucky.
A Scutaro hot streak and slump explain why the "good luck" and "bad luck" narratives don't always make sense.
Some players’ stat pages are interesting for any number of reasons. Others are nondescript, save for a single defining stat that stands out so much more than all the others that you quickly come to associate the player with that particular category. Marco Scutaro is a “single stat” guy.
Scutaro’s defining characteristic is that he makes more contact than anyone else. When someone says “Marco Scutaro” 10 years from now, you won’t think about that one time he led the league in sac flies, which his black ink would have us believe was the only time he led the league in anything. You might remember his unusual career arc: a utility guy throughout his 20s who “clearly was put on Earth to be a reserve,” according to Baseball Prospectus 2006, Scutaro bloomed late and became an above-average starter at shortstop in his early- to mid-30s. But mostly you’ll remember that his bat touched the ball on roughly 95 percent of his swings, and that he cut down on his K’s as his career went on while the rest of the league’s strikeout rate rose.
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Ben and Sam discuss how deep a hole the Blue Jays have dug, then talk about whether it's fair for people to gloat about the Diamondbacks' decision to trade Justin Upton based on what's happened so far this season.
Take the blind framing test, plus the best and worst framers of the week and season.
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.
Dave Dombrowski declared that the Tigers and their deposed closer were never ever getting back together, but they couldn't stay apart.
Jose Valverde recorded a save against the Royals last October 1st, in his final regular-season game of 2012. He also recorded a save against the Royals yesterday, in his first regular-season game of 2013. Between those two games, Valverde lost his job as closer, spent six months looking for work, and finally re-signed with the same team, which supposedly had no interest in bringing him back. Because the trip was so circuitous, it’s worth recounting how he got from point A to point B, even though the two points look so similar.
During the winter, when we’re starved for baseball and wondering where free agents will end up, we treat each new report and rumor as if it might mean something. Where there’s smoke, there’s sometimes a signing. Of course, most rumors don’t lead to confirmed reports. They’re based on bad information, or good information that goes stale. They get published, tweeted, and blogged about briefly before being replaced by the next rumor, which usually has just as short a shelf life. It's hard to ignore the mostly non-news in the moment, but when the offseason is over and we know where all the free agents fell, it’s fun (and often illustrative) to sift through the conflicting reports and rumors and wonder where they came from. So that’s what we have here: an annotated timeline of how Jose Valverde wound up at the back of the same bullpen.