Sunday, May 01, 2011

Catcher Defense in April: Avila in Middle of Pack

Last December, I ranked all the catchers in baseball in 2010 based on their fielding statistics (stolen bases, caught stealing, passed balls , wild pitches, throwing errors and fielding errors).  Today, I'm going to do the same thing for April, 2011.

The system is complex and I'm not going to rehash the whole thing here.  If you want to see the details, you can read my earlier article.  I do want to give credit to others who inspired me with similar work in the past:  Sean Smith, Justin Inaz, Matt Klaasen and Mike Rogers.

Before looking at the April data, remember that one month is a small sample size and that you should use the same caution you use with any short period of data whether it be hitting, pitching or fielding.  Also keep in mind that these numbers do not capture everything that a catcher does.  For example, they say nothing about game calling or understanding of pitcher abilities and tendencies. I am are only going to evaluate catchers based on what we can most easily measure - controlling the running game, pitch blocking and avoiding errors.

Table 1 contains data for all catchers with at least 100 innings in April.  The CSRuns column gives us an estimation of how many runs each catcher saved/cost his team compared to the average catcher by controlling the running game.  It is based on stolen bases against and caught stealing.  Athletics catcher Kurt Suzki is the MLB leader with 5.0 runs saved.  A negative sign before a number indicates that a catcher cost his team runs.  The worst receiver was A.J. Pierzynski who cost the White Sox -2.3 runs.  Alex Avila was right in the middle at 0.3.

The next column (WPPBRuns) tells us how many runs catchers saved/cost their teams with pitch blocking or preventing passed balls and wild pitches.  Number one is Cubs backstop Geovanny Soto with close to two runs saved (1.8).  Pierzynski and Mariners receiver Miguel Olivo have cost their teams almost two runs (-1.8).  Avila is closer to the bottom on that statistic costing the Tigers an estimated 0.6 runs with pitch blocking.

The TERuns column tells us about throwing errors.  There is not a lot of variation between catchers there, but Avila is tied for first with a few others at 0.3.  Conversely, Russell Martin has cost the Yankees 0.5 runs on throwing errors.

The FERuns column indicates how many runs catchers have saved/cost their teams with fielding errors.  Again, there is not a of of variation. There are a lot of catchers including Avila tied at 0.1.  The worst is Jonathan Lucroy of the Brewers (-0.5).

The final column (CatchRuns) is the sum of the previous four columns.  It tells us how many runs catchers saved/cost their teams on the above items combined.  The leader is Suzuki who has saved the Athletics almost five runs (4.7).  The worst is Pierzynski who has cost the White Sox four.  Avila has been right around league average (0.1 runs).

In summary, Avila has been average at controlling the running game, a little below average at pitch blocking and a little better than average at avoiding errors.  Overall, he is in the middle of the pack which combined with his strong hitting made April a successful month for the Tigers young catcher.  

Table 1: Catcher Runs Saved/Cost through April 30, 2011

Player
Team
Inn
CSRuns
WPPBRuns
TERuns
FERuns
CatchRuns
Kurt Suzuki
OAK
184
5.0
-0.6
0.3
0.1
4.7
Matt Wieters
BAL
195
1.7
1.7
0.3
0.1
3.8
Kelly Shoppach
TBR
122
1.4
1.4
-0.1
0.0
2.8
Buster Posey
SFG
193
2.3
0.9
0.0
0.1
3.3
Ramon Hernandez
CIN
115
2.4
0.5
0.2
0.0
3.1
Geovany Soto
CHC
203
1.2
1.8
0.0
-0.4
2.6
Drew Butera
MIN
106
0.5
1.2
-0.1
0.0
1.7
Nick Hundley
SDP
200
0.9
0.7
0.0
0.1
1.6
Brayan Pena
KCR
107
0.5
1.0
-0.1
0.0
1.4
Wilson Ramos
WSN
134
1.0
0.7
-0.3
0.0
1.4
Yorvit Torrealba
TEX
181
0.6
0.2
0.0
0.1
0.9
Matt Treanor
KCR
139
1.3
-0.6
-0.3
0.0
0.4
Yadier Molina
STL
180
0.9
-1.5
0.0
0.1
-0.6
Carlos Santana
CLE
172
-1.1
1.2
0.3
0.1
0.4
Rod Barajas
LAD
200
-0.9
1.0
0.0
0.1
0.2
Alex Avila
DET
187
0.3
-0.6
0.3
0.1
0.1
Hank Conger
LAA
110
-0.3
-0.1
0.2
0.0
-0.2
Chris Iannetta
COL
176
-0.3
-0.4
0.3
0.1
-0.4
Ryan Doumit
PIT
110
-0.3
-0.1
-0.4
0.0
-0.7
Jeff Mathis
LAA
125
0.0
-0.8
-0.1
0.0
-0.8
John Buck
FLA
198
-1.4
0.6
-0.2
0.1
-0.9
Humberto Quintero
HOU
149
-0.9
0.6
-0.3
-0.4
-1.0
Brian McCann
ATL
214
0.8
-1.1
0.3
-0.4
-0.4
Carlos Ruiz
PHI
164
-1.5
1.1
-0.0
0.1
-0.4
Miguel Montero
ARI
203
-0.2
0.1
-1.1
0.1
-1.1
Russell Martin
NYY
199
-0.7
-0.7
-0.5
0.1
-1.9
Ryan Hanigan
CIN
126
-1.6
0.6
-0.1
0.0
-1.0
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
BOS
128
-0.8
-0.7
-0.1
0.0
-1.5
J. P. Arencibia
TOR
146
-0.4
-0.8
-0.3
0.1
-1.5
Jonathan Lucroy
MIL
105
-1.2
-0.4
0.2
-0.5
-1.9
John Jaso
TBR
121
-2.1
-0.5
0.2
0.0
-2.4
Miguel Olivo
SEA
184
-0.7
-1.8
-0.3
0.1
-2.6
Josh Thole
NYM
177
-1.5
-1.6
-0.0
0.1
-3.0
A.J. Pierzynski
CHW
204
-2.3
-1.8
0.0
0.1
-4.0

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