Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Catchers and Game Calling

Keith Woolner really broke the ground here with his article several years ago, Field General or Backstop? He didn't find anything, but set a framework that can be modified, and looked into with further detail. I started a similar study, focusing on things catchers might have an effect on if game-calling were a skill - strikeouts, walks, HBP, homeruns, line drives allowed, and popups. I figure groundball and flyball results are heavily dependent on the defense, but since linedrives are almost always hits, and popups are as good as strikeouts, let's see if a catcher has any effect on these.

But this study is a lot of hard work. To even begin to see if there's a skill, I'll have to control for park and league effects. Kevin Brown's record with Paul Lo Duca in LA and Jorge Posada in NY makes Jorge look like a terrible catcher, but it's probably just the difference of pitching in the AL East vs Dodger stadium.

I think Tango Tiger has a catcher study coming up in this year's Hardball Times (I have an article as well on History's greatest defenders). I'll wait to see what he does before putting too much effort in this.

The first question remains, is catcher game-calling a skill? Can we expect certain catchers to be better than others? And if we ever find that it is, the next question is, how much does it matter? Are we talking 2 runs a year, or 25?

I'm sure if Scott Boras had his team do a study and found a big skill for Jason Varitek, we'd have heard about it, but with the unadjusted numbers, Varitek looks pretty bad. Probably not his fault though, pitching in Fenway Park is not easy.

48 Comments:

At 4:04 PM, Blogger NXNN14 said...

Doesn't relate to this post, but I have a couple of questions with regard to your projections. I am doing a project regarding trades and I plan on using your data in the process and wanted to find the answers to some specific questions I have. Should I post them here or is there an email that is better. my email is nxnn14#gmail.com.

Thanks,

Nick

 
At 4:39 PM, Blogger Chone Smith said...

If you want to email, let me know here and I'll send you my email address, but I'd prefer to answer on the blog, so anyone else who has the same question can see it.

Fire away!

 
At 11:44 PM, Blogger NXNN14 said...

Sounds good. I am sorry if they are obvious or answered elsewhere, but wanted to get the quick answers.

Are the projections park and or league adjusted, or are they based on a "normal" league/park(I think this is the case)?

Your projections include an enormous number of players. I was wondering what source you use for minor leaguers and their stats? Are these MLE projections park or league adjusted?

Do your projections include anything other than previous years' statistics. For instance, injuries, change in team/league, etc? For minor leaguers is there anything regarding progression speed, draft position etc. included in the progressions?

Also, is it ok if I use your projections as a starting ground for my work?

Those are the main ones for now. I will post again if I have other questions.

Thanks in advance for your answers.

Nick

 
At 6:39 AM, Blogger Tangotiger said...

My focus on catchers is only on the running game. However, Craig Wright will have a piece on Mike Piazza that will include game-calling. That will likely inspire you a bit.

 
At 3:55 PM, Blogger Chone Smith said...

Projections are for the league and park the player is projected to play in, for the counting stats and BA/OBP/SLG. This year I'm also adding runs above/below average, and those are context-neutral.

Minor leaguers are all park/league adjusted as well, and projected to play in the park of their major league organization. My source of the stats has varied, I've gotten them from multiple websites in the past. I use excel web queries to grab the data.

Draft position/progression speed is not considered. Weight is (for projecting power), as are speed scores.

Feel free to use anything I've published for Sabermetric work, but I will not give permission if you try and sell it (though why anyone would pay for it I don't know, since I put them here for free)

I don't think you were asking that but you can never be too careful.

 
At 4:00 PM, Blogger NXNN14 said...

Thank you for the answers. I have no intention on selling my work, just to be used for research. I was wondering if you would be able to elaborate more perhaps on your MLE system, or direct me to where you have previously. Also, I am interested in finding out more about how you obtain your minor league statistics I have tried a couple ways to get them and it never seems to work out.


Thanks,

Nick

 
At 5:31 PM, Blogger Chone Smith said...

You can try Fangraphs for minor league stats, just do a leaderboard, select all the minors, and you can export to excel. Another option is to buy them in excel form from the Baseball Cube - you have to pay a bit more but you get more info, such as height/weight data and birthdays.

I will have to elaborate on the MLE system, but that would take awhile. I'll try and put up a blogpost on those sometime.

 
At 5:33 PM, Blogger NXNN14 said...

Sounds great. Again I really appreciate it.

Nick

 
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