Re: A Realistic View at 2013: Part II
posted at 3/16/2013 11:32 PM EDT
harness had all the CERA numbers for several other teams. Too bad he's not around anymore.
I did the year by year VTek and other Sox catcher study and was amazed at the consistency over the years. The one guy VTek did not do all that well with was Buchholz, but part of that was that he did not catch buch that much during the seasons he did very well- maybe he was partially to blame for that, but every season there will be one or two picthers who do better with the "worse CERA cather", but the consistency lies in the steady numbers of pitchers who do better with the "better CERA catcher".
Here's one year: 2011
(Note: some sample sizes are small and some are unbalanced. Normally, I would discount the data due to this, but when the same catcher keeps getting better numbers that the other catcher on his team with almost every pitcher, year after year, I have to think it's not a fluke.)
Lester wVTek 40.0 2.48 wSalty 145.2 3.77
Lackey VTek 33.0 6.82 Salty 127.0 6.31
Bard wVTek 31.1 1.44 wSalty 39.2 4.54
Paps VTek 25.2 2.45 Salty 36.0 2.75
Aceves VTek 42 2.34 Salty 67 2.82
Miller VTek 30 7.28 Salty 35 4.08
Albers VTek 36 4.00 Salty 28 5.53
Bedard VTek 16 3.38 Salty 19 3.86
Very unbalanced sample sizes or less than 15 innings by one catcher:
Beckett VTek 182 2.62 Salty 11 7.36
Wakefield VTek 13 4.15 Salty 142 5.21
Buchholtz VTek 19 3.38 Salty 64 3.52
Dice-K VTek 35 3.82 Salty 2 31.50
Only Lackey & Andrew Miller did better with Salty, and Miller had one of the lowest total sample size on this list, while the differential with Lackey is minimal.
Bard seemed to love VTek: 2010:
VTek 19 0.48
VMart 44 2.64
Salty 2 4.50
Comparing catcher with each pitcher individually one-by-one takes away the bias of an overall CERA that is weighted by who catches better or worse pitchers. Even looking at pitcher by pitcher's career CERA can be misleading. Year by year is best. (I can't seem to locate the prior year numbers, but I know I have them sonewhere. Trust me, they all look similar to 2011, except with VMart instead of Salty.)
Here's an exchange I had with expitch on the Salty thread:
The scouting report is the foundation of how a particular pitcher is expected to pitch to a particular batter. But things don't always work out according to plan. Batters make adjustments that catchers should notice and then make their own adjustments. In a given game, the pitcher doesn't have the good breaking that the report says will retire batter B. And on and on. Thus the game of cat and mouse. The catcher initiates the game. Catchers are largely responsible for helping the pitcher maintain focus. Catchers try to set a pace and rhythm that will best serve a pitcher in a particular game. Some catchers have a better "feel" than others for what the position requires.
Exactly, and because this "feel game" can never be quantified with stats or metrics (even CERA with it's many limitations can only partially capture a piece of it) many posters and fans choose to ignore it, minimize its influence in most games, or deny it all together.
"A pitcher can always shake of the catcher until he gets what he wants to pitch", they say. They assume this means the pitcher always...
1) Pitches the type of pitch and location where he wanted.
2) Thought of every pitch he wanted beforehand.
3) Never is influenced by a catcher to change a pitch type or location.
This only addresses
pitch choice and location. As ex points out, there is much more to it than even that... pace and rythym, comfort level, adjustments, focus maintenance, etc...
Also, some catchers, such as VTek, were legendary for accumulating and adjusting data on plans of attack on each and every batter in MLB. I know with the advent of advanced technology, many might feel this will become a needless art of the catching position, and future catchers will only need to consult the computer data before each game, but I think the human element of the game can never be captured by numbers.
We don't know where Lava is in this phase of the game. We won't know for a while. One game, one week, or one month sample sizes are not large enough to know for sure about anything in baseball, let alone an area of baseball so full of intangibles and variables. We barely can come to an agreement on this board that Salty has improved in this area over the past 4 months (4.05 CERA since April 25th). I seriously doubt any consensus will be reached after 7 weeks of watching Lava play sporadically as our catcher, or even if we now begin to play him FT.
This is not a knock on Lava. I have great hopes for him as our catcher of the future or, at worst, as a trade chip for a significant starting pitcher. I guess what I am trying to say is that we should be cautiously optimistic, and not neglect to view the complexities of the catching position as a whole. Throwing all our chips in the Lava basket, and totally discounting the fact that we have another young 27 year old catcher with somewhat limited experience behind the plate for someone in professional baseball for almost 10 years, who has improved immensely in a key area of his game (pitcher-handling) could be huge mistake.