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September 14, 2012 1:19 pm

Raising Aces: The Man in the Ironic Mask

8

Doug Thorburn

BP's mechanics guru takes a break from breaking down pitchers to analyze their brethren behind the plate.

If there is one thing I’ve learned to appreciate through my study of pitching, it is the value of a great catcher. Backstops are the rock drummers of baseball, hiding behind a mountain of equipment while physically working harder than their teammates and functioning as the glue that holds the group together. Catchers are also invaluable in pitching evaluation, as their actions provide deep insight into the skills of the pitchers they serve.

One of the greatest epiphanies of my career occurred the first time that I focused all of my attention on the catcher for an entire ballgame and discovered the amount of information that can be gleaned about a pitcher by observing the actions of his batterymate. That was the day that I finally understood the distinction between pitch command and control on my own terms, as I watched dozens of pitches that found the strike zone yet strayed far from their intended locations. Observing the catcher is now a standard part of my baseball experience, providing a channel through which to view a pitcher's in-game ability.

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As in the AL, the Central division is as tight as can be, while in the East two Mets are predicted to take home some hardware along with their division flag.

Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the National League, along with the staff picks in some fun miscellaneous categories.

Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.

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