WOWY – over at Beyond the Box Score

I’ve just posted the next entry in my look at Catcher’s Block Percentage over at Beyond the Box Score.  I’ll be posting there once or twice a week – largely on stats-related work.

I’ll continue to post here, but the topics may shift more towards reactions to news and stories from baseball history rather than stats.

Historical Catcher Block Percentage

Ok, so not so much historical, but at least I can share 2005 and 2006. Joe Arthur clued me into the fact that the GameDay information was still available starting from 2005, so I dutifully went and grabbed the data, so now we have three years to look at.

UPDATE: MGL let me know about what turned out to be a rounding error that was pushing the numbers off a bit. I’ve updated the charts to fix the issue, but things might look a little different than you remember.

For those of you who haven’t been following this series, I’m using the GameDay data to measure how each catcher performed in blocking pitches by looking at their misses (wild pitches + passed balls) and their opportunities (balls in the dirt with runners on base).

Before we get to the results, a couple words of warning. There’s definitely something up with the scoring of balls in the dirt. Each year had widely varying counts for opportunities, as you can see below. If we assume that these scoring differences affected every catcher equally, then we’re ok if compare the runs saved columns since those are based on average numbers. I think this might be a reasonable assumption because the opportunities look to be somewhat depressed for all the catchers in 2006.

Year Opportunities Avg. Block %
2005 9271 .84
2006 7375 .77
2007 11523 .86

Opportunities and Block Percentage By Season

Also, I’m still wary of the effect of pitching staffs and of course random variation. One of the next steps is to try a With or Without You (WOWY) analysis to see if I can tease out the impact of the pitchers.

Enough of the warnings, let’s look at the results. I’ll go year by year, including 2007 for those who don’t want to look back at other posts, and then look at the leaders and trailers over the three seasons (by summing runs per season). Remember, I’m calculating an average block percentage for each season individually. I’m still limiting this to those catchers with more than 100 opportunities and assuming a run value of .27 runs per miss. I’ve changed the sort order to sort by actual runs saved rather than runs per 120, since I think the actual value is more interesting.

2005

Catcher Innings Misses Opportunities Block % Blocks AA Runs Runs/120
Mike Matheny 1122 24 327 0.93 26.93 7.27 6.76
Jason Kendall 1286 34 353 0.9 20.98 5.66 4.4
Gregg Zaun 1088 23 251 0.91 16.09 4.34 5.18
Jason LaRue 914.67 28 271 0.9 14.21 3.84 4.4
Yadier Molina 959.33 27 242 0.89 10.69 2.89 3.61
Mike Lieberthal 998.67 20 193 0.9 10.06 2.72 4.4
Johnny Estrada 826.33 23 211 0.89 9.86 2.66 3.61
Brad Ausmus 1065.67 29 243 0.88 8.85 2.39 2.82
Victor Martinez 1233 24 200 0.88 7.15 1.93 2.82
Gary Bennett 523.33 14 130 0.89 6.25 1.69 3.61
Damian Miller 917.33 33 252 0.87 6.25 1.69 2.03
Toby Hall 1061.67 47 332 0.86 4.71 1.27 1.24
Henry Blanco 422.33 13 108 0.88 3.82 1.03 2.82
Joe Mauer 999.67 26 180 0.86 2.04 0.55 1.24
Geronimo Gil 349.33 17 122 0.86 2 0.54 1.24
Jason Phillips 774 19 132 0.86 1.56 0.42 1.24
Humberto Cota 681.67 28 186 0.85 0.97 0.26 0.45
Brian McCann 449.33 15 102 0.85 0.89 0.24 0.45
Mike Piazza 809.33 15 102 0.85 0.89 0.24 0.45
Paul Lo Duca 1033.33 30 197 0.85 0.68 0.18 0.45
Ramon Hernandez 806 17 100 0.83 -1.42 -0.38 -1.12
Ryan Doumit 422 19 110 0.83 -1.87 -0.5 -1.12
Rod Barajas 1025.33 34 202 0.83 -2.54 -0.69 -1.12
Michael Barrett 1017.67 38 225 0.83 -2.96 -0.8 -1.12
Jorge Posada 1076.67 37 215 0.83 -3.51 -0.95 -1.12
Sal Fasano 417 25 136 0.82 -3.82 -1.03 -1.91
Bengie Molina 873.33 40 231 0.83 -4.02 -1.09 -1.12
Javy Lopez 628.67 26 140 0.81 -4.19 -1.13 -2.7
Jose Molina 480.33 25 133 0.81 -4.28 -1.16 -2.7
Miguel Olivo 690 28 152 0.82 -4.33 -1.17 -1.91
Javier Valentin 508.33 22 111 0.8 -4.71 -1.27 -3.49
Jason Varitek 1089 44 243 0.82 -6.15 -1.66 -1.91
Brian Schneider 926.67 34 169 0.8 -7.68 -2.07 -3.49
J.D. Closser 565.67 24 104 0.77 -7.8 -2.11 -5.85
John Buck 976.67 42 215 0.8 -8.51 -2.3 -3.49
Chad Moeller 520.67 32 145 0.78 -9.42 -2.54 -5.07
Danny Ardoin 591 28 119 0.76 -9.47 -2.56 -6.64
Chris Snyder 915.67 40 191 0.79 -10.25 -2.77 -4.28
Ivan Rodriguez 1032.67 40 159 0.75 -15.24 -4.11 -7.43
A.J. Pierzynski 1117.67 46 181 0.75 -17.81 -4.81 -7.43

Catchers With More than 100 Opportunities in 2005
One big surprise in 2005: Jason Varitek, who the top catcher in 2007, is near the bottom here. He had 44 misses this season, while never having more than 24 in the other two seasons. I thought maybe he had been catching Tim Wakefield more in 2005 than in the other seasons. Turns out that Wake wasn’t the biggest cause of Varitek’s misfortune. Matt Clement actually led to 13 misses for Varitek that season, by far his highest number. This seems to be somewhat of a trend for Clement. Just looking at his WP numbers over the previous seasons he often has at least 10 wild pitches (and 23! in 2000), which puts him near the league leaders. Obviously Clement missed the large majority of 2006 and 2007, reducing Varitek’s misses. This quick look definitely highlights the need for a WOWY study.

Other than that, nothing too surprising. Mike Matheny, long considered a top defensive catcher, is number one. Pudge and Pierzynski are near the bottom. I’m happy to see the range of runs is roughly 12-15, right where it was for 2007.

2006

Catcher Innings Misses Opportunities Block % Blocks AA Runs Runs/120
Brad Ausmus 1124.67 24 202 0.88 21.77 5.88 8.4
Yadier Molina 1037.33 32 231 0.86 20.34 5.49 6.83
Jason Varitek 822.33 24 180 0.87 16.78 4.53 7.61
Brian Schneider 990.33 27 186 0.85 15.14 4.09 6.04
Jason Kendall 1254 39 235 0.83 14.25 3.85 4.46
Brian McCann 1016.33 32 190 0.83 11.05 2.98 4.46
Josh Paul 400.33 46 250 0.82 10.64 2.87 3.67
Damian Miller 840 36 198 0.82 8.86 2.39 3.67
Mike Rivera 352.67 15 101 0.85 7.88 2.13 6.04
Paul Lo Duca 1027 39 195 0.8 5.18 1.4 2.1
Mike Lieberthal 484 21 115 0.82 5.06 1.37 3.67
Gregg Zaun 541.33 21 112 0.81 4.38 1.18 2.88
Mike Napoli 716.33 32 158 0.8 3.8 1.03 2.1
Henry Blanco 526 21 108 0.81 3.47 0.94 2.88
Bengie Molina 842 32 152 0.79 2.44 0.66 1.31
Toby Hall 628 27 126 0.79 1.55 0.42 1.31
Miguel Olivo 971.33 43 193 0.78 0.73 0.2 0.52
Eliezer Alfonzo 700.33 26 117 0.78 0.51 0.14 0.52
Sal Fasano 518 28 124 0.77 0.1 0.03 -0.27
Rod Barajas 825 23 102 0.77 0.11 0.03 -0.27
John Buck 930.33 46 200 0.77 -0.68 -0.18 -0.27
Ivan Rodriguez 1054.33 34 146 0.77 -0.92 -0.25 -0.27
Joe Mauer 1059.33 37 154 0.76 -2.11 -0.57 -1.06
Russell Martin 1015 39 159 0.75 -2.97 -0.8 -1.85
Ramon Hernandez 1094.33 60 247 0.76 -4.04 -1.09 -1.06
A.J. Pierzynski 1125 45 170 0.74 -6.48 -1.75 -2.64
Jorge Posada 1050.67 45 168 0.73 -6.94 -1.87 -3.42
Victor Martinez 1110 38 126 0.7 -9.45 -2.55 -5.79
Jose Molina 603.33 37 121 0.69 -9.58 -2.59 -6.58
Dioner Navarro 653.67 36 113 0.68 -10.4 -2.81 -7.37
Michael Barrett 852 45 150 0.7 -11.01 -2.97 -5.79
Kenji Johjima 1172.67 53 148 0.64 -19.47 -5.26 -10.52

Catchers With More than 100 Opportunities in 2006
Looking at this list makes me question even more the validity of the raw data from 2006. The range from top to bottom is still the same 12-15 runs, but the relative ranking is very different from 2005 and 2007. Of course that could just imply there’s a whole lot of random variation built into this measure, but I think there’s some systematic scoring issue that’s changing things.

2007

Catcher Innings Misses Opportunities Block % Blocks AA Runs Runs/120
Jason Varitek 1064 19 282 0.93 21.5 5.81 5.8
Brad Ausmus 906.67 17 256 0.93 19.77 5.34 5.8
Yadier Molina 861.33 27 315 0.91 18.24 4.92 4.23
Gregg Zaun 838.33 22 260 0.92 15.34 4.14 5.02
Mike Redmond 482.67 7 135 0.95 12.39 3.35 7.38
Gerald Laird 987.33 38 351 0.89 12.41 3.35 2.65
Brian Schneider 1051.33 40 362 0.89 11.99 3.24 2.65
Gary Bennett 370.33 10 139 0.93 9.96 2.69 5.8
Ramon Hernandez 855 32 294 0.89 10.23 2.76 2.65
Yorvit Torrealba 935.33 22 200 0.89 6.73 1.82 2.65
Mike Napoli 598.67 23 205 0.89 6.44 1.74 2.65
Jason Phillips 363.67 10 110 0.91 5.8 1.57 4.23
Damian Miller 446.33 19 172 0.89 5.7 1.54 2.65
Carlos Ruiz 912.67 25 212 0.88 5.45 1.47 1.86
Russell Martin 1254 40 318 0.87 5.67 1.53 1.07
Josh Bard 927.33 24 202 0.88 5.01 1.35 1.86
Chris Iannetta 496.67 12 116 0.9 4.66 1.26 3.44
Jason Kendall 1146 48 372 0.87 5.43 1.47 1.07
Dioner Navarro 956.33 34 270 0.87 4.78 1.29 1.07
Ronny Paulino 277.67 35 275 0.87 4.5 1.22 1.07
Kurt Suzuki 539 25 202 0.88 4.01 1.08 1.86
Jeff Mathis 467 27 214 0.87 3.74 1.01 1.07
John Buck 924.33 32 244 0.87 3.04 0.82 1.07
Johnny Estrada 961 37 267 0.86 1.35 0.36 0.29
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 372.67 16 117 0.86 0.8 0.22 0.29
Brian McCann 1139 34 243 0.86 0.9 0.24 0.29
Matt Treanor 440.67 17 120 0.86 0.24 0.06 0.29
Paul Bako 421 23 162 0.86 0.27 0.07 0.29
Victor Martinez 1042.67 29 204 0.86 0.3 0.08 0.29
Jesus Flores 395.33 15 103 0.85 -0.21 -0.06 -0.5
Chris Snyder 891.33 34 237 0.86 0.04 0.01 0.29
Michael Barrett 768 25 170 0.85 -0.58 -0.16 -0.5
Mike Rabelo 394.67 20 130 0.85 -1.33 -0.36 -0.5
Paul LoDuca 974 24 155 0.85 -1.74 -0.47 -0.5
Jose Molina 492.33 19 117 0.84 -2.2 -0.59 -1.29
Miguel Montero 510.67 22 122 0.82 -4.48 -1.21 -2.87
Jason LaRue 474.33 24 134 0.82 -4.75 -1.28 -2.87
Kenji Johjima 1106.67 40 237 0.83 -5.96 -1.61 -2.08
Javier Valentin 471.67 22 108 0.8 -6.49 -1.75 -4.44
Benji Molina 1104 50 295 0.83 -7.63 -2.06 -2.08
Joe Mauer 777.67 30 142 0.79 -9.61 -2.59 -5.23
Dave Ross 837.33 35 148 0.76 -13.74 -3.71 -7.6
A.J. Pierzynski 1058 44 192 0.77 -16.42 -4.43 -6.81
Jorge Posada 1111.33 61 293 0.79 -18.92 -5.11 -5.23
Miguel Olivo 990.33 65 321 0.8 -18.9 -5.1 -4.44
Ivan Rodriguez 1052.67 58 214 0.73 -27.26 -7.36 -9.96

Catchers With More than 100 Opportunities in 2007
I’ll present 2007 without much comment except to say that I feel more confident in the raw data than in either 2005 or 2006 because of the improvements to the GameDay system. Of course most of the improvements were technological and the scoring decision that leads to a measured opportunity is in the hands of the human stringer.

Leaders and Trailers

As a close, I’ll leave you with the top and bottom three in actual runs saved over the last three seasons.. I’ll admit I eyeballed this a little, so I may have missed someone. Also note that there were a bunch of catchers who might have made these lists but didn’t receive enough opportunities in all three seasons.

The Best:
Brad Ausmus 13.61
Yadier Molina 13.3
Jason Kendall 10.98
The Worst:
Ivan Rodriguez -11.72
A.J. Pierzynski -10.99
Jorge Posada -7.93

How Valuable is Blocking Pitches?

Now that we’ve looked at a raw ranking of how catchers performed blocking pitches in 2007 (subject to concerns about pitching staff, scoring and sample size), let’s try and turn that into runs.

Using Tango’s run expectancy chart (from 99-02, so it’s likely a little off based on the lower run environment now), a catcher miss (wild pitch or passed ball) was worth about .27 runs in 2007. Using that run value, and calculating blocks above/below average for each catcher, we can determine how many runs were saved by each catcher. The average block percentage across the entire league was 86%.

Now to put players on the same scale – which might be a little unrealistic based on the possible outside influences mentioned above. There were .27 opportunities per inning in 2007. Many people use runs per 150 games as a baseline for comparison, but since we’re talking catchers here, I think runs per 120 games probably better represents a full season. So that means a full season of opportunities should be 292 opportunities. This might be a little high since there were only 12 teams that had catchers with more than 120 games last season, so I’m willing to tweak if people think it’s necessary.

We’ll sort this table according to runs saved per 120 games, limiting still to those with over 100 opportunities.

Catcher Innings Misses Opportunities Block % Blocks AA Runs Runs/120
Mike Redmond 482.67 7 135 0.95 11.9 3.21 7.1
Jason Varitek 1064 19 282 0.93 20.48 5.53 5.52
Brad Ausmus 906.67 17 256 0.93 18.84 5.09 5.52
Gary Bennett 370.33 10 139 0.93 9.46 2.55 5.52
Gregg Zaun 838.33 22 260 0.92 14.4 3.89 4.73
Yadier Molina 861.33 27 315 0.91 17.1 4.62 3.94
Jason Phillips 363.67 10 110 0.91 5.4 1.46 3.94
Chris Iannetta 496.67 12 116 0.9 4.24 1.14 3.15
Gerald Laird 987.33 38 351 0.89 11.14 3.01 2.37
Brian Schneider 1051.33 40 362 0.89 10.68 2.88 2.37
Ramon Hernandez 855 32 294 0.89 9.16 2.47 2.37
Yorvit Torrealba 935.33 22 200 0.89 6 1.62 2.37
Mike Napoli 598.67 23 205 0.89 5.7 1.54 2.37
Damian Miller 446.33 19 172 0.89 5.08 1.37 2.37
Carlos Ruiz 912.67 25 212 0.88 4.68 1.26 1.58
Josh Bard 927.33 24 202 0.88 4.28 1.16 1.58
Kurt Suzuki 539 25 202 0.88 3.28 0.89 1.58
Russell Martin 1254 40 318 0.87 4.52 1.22 0.79
Jason Kendall 1146 48 372 0.87 4.08 1.1 0.79
Dioner Navarro 956.33 34 270 0.87 3.8 1.03 0.79
Ronny Paulino 277.67 35 275 0.87 3.5 0.95 0.79
Jeff Mathis 467 27 214 0.87 2.96 0.8 0.79
John Buck 924.33 32 244 0.87 2.16 0.58 0.79
Johnny Estrada 961 37 267 0.86 0.38 0.1 0
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 372.67 16 117 0.86 0.38 0.1 0
Brian McCann 1139 34 243 0.86 0.02 0.01 0
Matt Treanor 440.67 17 120 0.86 -0.2 -0.05 0
Paul Bako 421 23 162 0.86 -0.32 -0.09 0
Victor Martinez 1042.67 29 204 0.86 -0.44 -0.12 0
Chris Snyder 891.33 34 237 0.86 -0.82 -0.22 0
Jesus Flores 395.33 15 103 0.85 -0.58 -0.16 -0.79
Michael Barrett 768 25 170 0.85 -1.2 -0.32 -0.79
Mike Rabelo 394.67 20 130 0.85 -1.8 -0.49 -0.79
Paul LoDuca 974 24 155 0.85 -2.3 -0.62 -0.79
Jose Molina 492.33 19 117 0.84 -2.62 -0.71 -1.58
Kenji Johjima 1106.67 40 237 0.83 -6.82 -1.84 -2.37
Benji Molina 1104 50 295 0.83 -8.7 -2.35 -2.37
Miguel Montero 510.67 22 122 0.82 -4.92 -1.33 -3.15
Jason LaRue 474.33 24 134 0.82 -5.24 -1.41 -3.15
Javier Valentin 471.67 22 108 0.8 -6.88 -1.86 -4.73
Miguel Olivo 990.33 65 321 0.8 -20.06 -5.42 -4.73
Joe Mauer 777.67 30 142 0.79 -10.12 -2.73 -5.52
Jorge Posada 1111.33 61 293 0.79 -19.98 -5.39 -5.52
A.J. Pierzynski 1058 44 192 0.77 -17.12 -4.62 -7.1
Dave Ross 837.33 35 148 0.76 -14.28 -3.86 -7.88
Ivan Rodriguez 1052.67 58 214 0.73 -28.04 -7.57 -10.25

Mike Redmond retakes the top spot from Jason Varitek once we scale to the same number of opportunities, while Pudge looks worse again because of his low number of opportunities. However, he played almost as many innings as Varitek, but had almost 70 fewer opportunities. I don’t know if that’s an effect of scoring, pitching staff or simple variation, but it makes me wonder if, as rlc from BBTF suggested (comment 6), Pudge isn’t calling as many low breaking pitches as other catches would.

Anyway it looks like the range in value from blocking pitches is somewhere in the order of 12 to 17 runs (at least in 2007), which actually is higher than I would have imagined going in.

A tale of two catchers

At least a couple of people have asked for some more detail about Doug Mirabelli, Tim Wakefield and blocking pitches. To no one’s surprise I’m sure, Mirabelli looks a lot better when you isolate out Wakefield. Basically he’s a completely different catcher.

Take all this with a grain of salt because the sample sizes are so small, but here’s how Mirabelli breaks down by pitcher:

Wakefield: 27 opportunities, 16 misses, 41% block percentage
Romero: 10 opportunities, 0 misses, 100% block percentage
Snyder: 6 opportunities, 2 misses, 66% block percentage
Matsuzaka: 4 opportunities, 0 misses, 100% block percentage
Pineiro: 4 opportunities, 2 misses, 50% block percentage
Lopez: 3 opportunities, 1 miss, 66% block percentage
Hansack: 2 opportunities, 0 misses, 100% block percentage
Papelbon: 2 opportunities, 0 misses, 100% block percentage
Okajima: 2 opportunities, 0 misses, 100% block percentage
Timlin: 1 opportunity, 0 misses, 100% block percentage
Delcarmen:1 opportunity, 0 misses, 100% block percentage
Tavarez: 1 opportunity, 0 misses, 100% block percentage
Donnelly: 1 opportunity, 1 miss, 0% block percentage

Total non-Wakefield pitchers: 37 opportunities, 6 misses, 84% block percentage

Catcher Block Percentage – Followup

Over on The Book Blog, Mike Fast raised the fact that I had left out the category of “Swinging Strike (Blocked)” when calculating the block opportunities.

Obviously including those pitches will change things somewhat, so without further adieu, here are the new numbers:

Catcher Innings Misses Opportunities Block %
Mike Redmond 482.67 7 135 0.95
Brad Ausmus 906.67 17 256 0.93
Gary Bennett 370.33 10 139 0.93
Jason Varitek 1064 19 282 0.93
Gregg Zaun 838.33 22 260 0.92
Yadier Molina 861.33 27 315 0.91
Jason Phillips 363.67 10 110 0.91
Chris Iannetta 496.67 12 116 0.9
Ramon Hernandez 855 32 294 0.89
Gerald Laird 987.33 38 351 0.89
Damian Miller 446.33 19 172 0.89
Mike Napoli 598.67 23 205 0.89
Brian Schneider 1051.33 40 362 0.89
Yorvit Torrealba 935.33 22 200 0.89
Josh Bard 927.33 24 202 0.88
Carlos Ruiz 912.67 25 212 0.88
Kurt Suzuki 539 25 202 0.88
John Buck 924.33 32 244 0.87
Jason Kendall 1146 48 372 0.87
Russell Martin 1254 40 318 0.87
Jeff Mathis 467 27 214 0.87
Dioner Navarro 956.33 34 270 0.87
Ronny Paulino 277.67 35 275 0.87
Paul Bako 421 23 162 0.86
Johnny Estrada 961 37 267 0.86
Victor Martinez 1042.67 29 204 0.86
Brian McCann 1139 34 243 0.86
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 372.67 16 117 0.86
Chris Snyder 891.33 34 237 0.86
Matt Treanor 440.67 17 120 0.86
Michael Barrett 768 25 170 0.85
Jesus Flores 395.33 15 103 0.85
Paul LoDuca 974 24 155 0.85
Mike Rabelo 394.67 20 130 0.85
Jose Molina 492.33 19 117 0.84
Kenji Johjima 1106.67 40 237 0.83
Benji Molina 1104 50 295 0.83
Jason LaRue 474.33 24 134 0.82
Miguel Montero 510.67 22 122 0.82
Miguel Olivo 990.33 65 321 0.8
Javier Valentin 471.67 22 108 0.8
Joe Mauer 777.67 30 142 0.79
Jorge Posada 1111.33 61 293 0.79
A.J. Pierzynski 1058 44 192 0.77
Dave Ross 837.33 35 148 0.76
Ivan Rodriguez 1052.67 58 214 0.73

It doesn’t appear to alter things too badly. Just shifts some positions around slightly and makes Pudge look a little better (but still worst in the league).

Other concerns that have been raised are the effects of the pitching staffs and the PITCHf/x scorekeepers. Unfortunately, I don’t really have a way to control for that at this point, so just keep those considerations in mind when using this information.

Powered by WordPress with GimpStyle Theme design by Horacio Bella.
Entries and comments feeds. Valid XHTML and CSS.