Re: Congratulations Salty!!
posted at 9/29/2013 2:14 PM EDT
In response to southpaw777's comment:
The way all of our pitchers speak about him, it souds like they are already very comfortable with him. Im sorry Kimmi, although I respect your opinions and knowlwdge with all the stats, catching defense is probably one of the toughest to determine. There are just too many intangibles that you dont see on a stat sheet. I like them to a point. Heres a good example, although not with a catcher. Stephen Drew has always been a good defender. Always. Ive seen him play a number of times before coming here and also interviewing a couple guys in the AZ organization. They all said he is a defensive metrics nightmare. Although the stats say hes had "limited range", if you watch him play you would have never guessed that. How many on this board were all over him about his poor defense, and throughout the year everyone changed their tune. They realized that if you know the batters tendencies, what pitch is being thrown, have quick reactions, and can anticipate where the ball is going, range doesnt matter much and really makes you look worse than you are. JD Drew was brilliant at that in RF. Didnt have to dive much because of this. He wasnt a burner who could run down a lot of balls, but he sure got great reads and jumps on balls hit his way.
I like pitching and offensive stats and rely on them a lot more. I like defensive stats, but defense is too subjective to rely on it more than what you see with your own eyes. Compared to the league average on defense, Salty is slightly higher than average. Hes improved every year and theres no reason to think he wont continue to improved. Im not saying they are useless, because they are not. CERA is somewhat of a joke though, especially if you dont have about 3 years of comparable stats with the same 2 catchers catching the same pitchers about the same amount of times. And even then, if the pitcher is throwing a gem or totally has no feel for the ball, its not going to matter much what pitch the catcher calls or anything else.
I think overall we agree about Salty, Kimmi, besides relying on defensive metrics.
I respect your opinion and appreciate the respectful way that you reply to me, even when we disagree.
I have two problems with relying solely on the 'eye test'. One, your eyes will lie to you. This is not meant to be a knock on you or anyone else. I have no doubt that you know the game of baseball very well. However, we are all biased whether we want to admit it or not. Plus, we don't always see the entire play unfolding. Two, unless you watch every catcher play just about every game, it is impossible to say that Salty is better or worse than average.
I understand the shortcomings of defensive metrics and CERA. Every sabermetric stat geek has acknowledged the shortcomings of these stats. I understand that catcher defense is probably the hardest to quantify. However, because a stat is flawed (which they all are), that doesn't mean that the stat is irrelevant or inaccurate. As always, the more you can look at, from both the stat and scouting perspectives, the better off you will be.
A stat as seemingly simple and straightforward as Ks is flawed due to umpire bias, human error, and inconsistency in strike zones - those are all subjective factors. Yet, that stat (along with all the others) is thrown into just about every debate/discussion and accepted as an accurate measure of a hitter's (or pitcher's) ability.
Regardless of the flaws, when you look several years worth of stats and data on Salty, he repeatedly comes out below average.
Since 2008 when pitch/fx was introduced, there have been 3 very comprehensive studies conducted by the fine folks at BP for the years 2008-2011. Links to all 3 have been posted here.
One was on blocking pitches in the dirt, on which Salty rated poorly. Consideration was given to him for catching Wakefield's knuckleball, but even with that consideration, Salty was below average. The second was on framing pitches, on which Salty rated very well. The third was on pitch calling, on which Salty rated poorly.
Many fans do not buy into these things, but you can bet most FOs do. Most of the guys at BP conducting these studies are now employed by major league teams. It's no coincidence that David Ross, known as a defensive catcher, was signed as Salty's backup.
All that said, this post really isn't a post against Salty. I like him, and as I said in my earlier post, I want him back. This post is really more in defense of advanced stats, of which I am a huge proponent.