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Must-Click Link: The most comprehensive article about catchers blocking pitches in the dirt you’ve ever seen

Oct 18, 2011, 11:04 AM EDT

Block pitch

That may be the most comprehensive headline I’ve ever written too, but really there’s no other way to go with this.

Bojan Koprivica of The Hardball Times has a huge article up today in which he attacked the issue of catchers blocking pitchers in the dirt, explaining how to go at the problem, how to make good measurements of and adjustments to the data and eventually coming up with a rating of the best and worst catchers in this regard.

Tops: Humberto Quintero, Yadier Molina and Matt Wieters. Worst: Rob Johnson, Jorge Posada and Miguel Olivo.

But the journey is more important than the destination.  If you care about measuring catching defense and stretching the boundaries of what we can quantitatively say in baseball, this stuff is for you.

  1. kiwicricket - Oct 18, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    Miguel Olivo is only in the line-up for his bat *

  2. 78mu - Oct 18, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    Yadier is second best at blocking pitches but his brothers are the 5th and 7th worst. Did their coaches work with Yadi on his defense figuring his brothers would make it to the big leagues based on their hitting?

    Or did the brothers figure no one would ever come up with the research Koprivica did and they would be confused with Yadi.

    • thefalcon123 - Oct 18, 2011 at 12:31 PM

      Cardinal legend has it he was taught his blocking and throwing skills by Mike Matheny.

    • Alex K - Oct 18, 2011 at 12:35 PM

      Bengie and Jose are 8 and 7 years older. This includes their 33-35 and 33-36 season. It is no wonder they score much worse. This is for Yadier’s 25-28 seasons.

    • The Baseball Idiot - Oct 18, 2011 at 12:57 PM

      Blocking pitches is only one aspect of a good defensive catcher. It’s one of the most important, but there is more to the job than just that.

      A catcher who is bad this part of the game can still be great at other parts of it.

    • cur68 - Oct 18, 2011 at 2:40 PM

      78mu; gotta step in for my boy Jose, but within reason; Yaddi’s the better Molina catcher, really, but Jose isn’t chopped liver. His age counts against him as does his weight. Where Jose surpasses Yaddi is in getting into position to throw. He doesn’t have the arm strength like Yaddi’s any more but he cheats into his throwing position so well he can make up the difference. Add to that his skill in getting marginal calls, his lack of neck-tats and his handling of young pitchers and I’ll overlook his slowness in blocking balls. I think, catcher for catcher, Jose is not too fart behind Yaddi. IMO he’s a better bat, too. Short flat swing to make up for his lack of quickness and his ability to read a pitcher = that Jose Molina guy drivers the ball well.

      • Alex K - Oct 18, 2011 at 2:50 PM

        The lack of neck tattoos is huge.

  3. Kyle - Oct 18, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    Wow. Incredible work. It’s exciting to think that with this, plus Mike Fast’s article on framing pitches, guys are really starting to dig into how to quantify defense from catchers.

  4. nolanwiffle - Oct 18, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    I’ll be honest…..I looked at the graphs and charts and lost interest almost instantly.

    • clydeserra - Oct 18, 2011 at 1:24 PM

      your loss

      • nolanwiffle - Oct 18, 2011 at 2:09 PM

        If I read this right…..the difference between the best at blocking errant pitches versus the worst is approximately 13 runs saved over 120 games (or one tenth of run per game).

        I think the study probably appeals to a mathematician a lot more than a casual game-viewing fan….or even a GM, for that matter.

        Unless, my math is wrong. And frankly, there is a very good chance of that.

      • Kevin S. - Oct 18, 2011 at 4:12 PM

        Considering 10 runs ~ 1 win, I’d say a thirteen-run swing is fairly significant info for a GM, wouldn’t you?

  5. Alex K - Oct 18, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    This is so very cool. We can only hope that it keeps getting improved as time goes on.

  6. Walk - Oct 18, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    I think i just had a nerdgasm, the adjusted war did it for me.

  7. clydeserra - Oct 18, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    That is the best thing I have seen in a while.

    • proudlycanadian - Oct 18, 2011 at 2:19 PM

      Better than a walk off home run in extra innings by your team? Better than a Playboy centerfold? Better than a piece of cake?

      • cur68 - Oct 18, 2011 at 2:41 PM

        Few things are better than a piece of cake…mmmm….caaaaake

    • nolanwiffle - Oct 18, 2011 at 3:24 PM

      Did you not see Mrs. Greinke?

  8. Panda Claus - Oct 18, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    If HBT gives a final exam on that topic, guaranteed I’ll fail. I’m having flashbacks to some upper-level math classes now.

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