PDA

View Full Version : Catchers: How important is "framing a pitch"?



dougdirt
06-18-2011, 05:45 PM
I was just having a discussion with someone about what is important to catcher defense and that was brought up by the other party. My question to him was "does the umpire ever even look at the catchers glove after the ball has crossed home plate"?

The strikezone isn't defined by where the catcher catches the ball, because the catchers glove is well behind home plate. The strikezone is defined by where the ball is when it crosses the plate.

So, I bring it here to you guys.... how much, if any importance do you actually put on a catchers ability to "frame a pitch"?

westofyou
06-18-2011, 05:57 PM
I think it's an important task, hard to pin down that stuff, but you're selling the pitchers control to the umpire and that's important. Scioscia thinks it's REAL important\ and that the catcher is a big part of the games run prevention.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=14121


Mike Scioscia isn’t a stathead kind of guy. He’s not as anti-stat as you might imagine—he’s extremely wary of sample-size issues, he doesn’t believe in distinguishing between earned and unearned runs, and he thinks pitcher wins are a bad way of measuring starters—but he is extremely skeptical of advanced defensive stats. He says they don’t account for the role of advanced scouting, positioning and, yes, even the catcher’s role in calling pitches that reflect the scouting and positioning. There’s only one defensive statistic that he thinks can accurately reflect the player’s role: Catcher Runs Allowed. “An absolute tool as to how a catcher relates to a pitcher’s performance,” he called it.

“Let me put it to you this way,” he once said. “If you string out 162 games and you have one catcher who is giving up one run a game less when he catches, on the net runs end of it, he’s 162 runs ahead, right? So the other catcher has to produce 162 runs more than the other guy just to break even. I think a catcher is going to influence a game and a season behind the plate more than he is with his four at-bats a night.”

Perfect: the one advanced metric he approves of is one that had essentially been considered disproven for a decade. And the one advanced metric he approves of is the one that conveniently makes him look like he was a superstar

Brutus
06-18-2011, 06:14 PM
I was just having a discussion with someone about what is important to catcher defense and that was brought up by the other party. My question to him was "does the umpire ever even look at the catchers glove after the ball has crossed home plate"?

The strikezone isn't defined by where the catcher catches the ball, because the catchers glove is well behind home plate. The strikezone is defined by where the ball is when it crosses the plate.

So, I bring it here to you guys.... how much, if any importance do you actually put on a catchers ability to "frame a pitch"?

I umpired from about the time I was 16 until 25 or 26. Granted, I only did Babe Ruth, High School, Legion and smaller college ball, but for me, framing pitches didn't help catchers if I knew they were doing it. I always gave myself a split second to think about each pitch as it hit the mitt, so if they were good at it, it may have made a slight impact on my judgement of where the ball crossed. But if I saw their mitts being drastically moved back, it helped me determine it was usually out of the zone.

That's just my own personal viewpoint, obviously, but I think most umpires don't allow framing to make up their mind much if I had to guess.

VR
06-18-2011, 06:48 PM
It was one of the things I didn't like with Jason LaRue....who always looked like he was stabbing at the ball, even strikes.

I would say a ball is harder to be called a strike by 'framing' the pitch, than it is for a strike to be called a ball by sloppy receiving.

mace
06-18-2011, 06:49 PM
From that same BP article:

" . . . And Mathis “earns” an extra strike call every two games or so. If switching a ball to a strike is worth .161 runs, as Dan Turkenkopf found, Mathis has an edge of about 10 runs over a full season, by pitch-framing alone."

RFS62
06-18-2011, 07:00 PM
It was one of the things I didn't like with Jason LaRue....who always looked like he was stabbing at the ball, even strikes.

I would say a ball is harder to be called a strike by 'framing' the pitch, than it is for a strike to be called a ball by sloppy receiving.



Exactly.

They all "frame" the pitch to a degree, sometimes it helps get a call, sometimes not. But if you do it poorly, not smooth, "stabbing" at the ball, as VR noted, it can really hurt the call, IMO.

I always thought that about LaRue as well.

Smooth, subtle movements are the only ones that work, and you can do more harm than good if you're not adept at it.

dougdirt
06-18-2011, 07:17 PM
Exactly.

They all "frame" the pitch to a degree, sometimes it helps get a call, sometimes not. But if you do it poorly, not smooth, "stabbing" at the ball, as VR noted, it can really hurt the call, IMO.

I always thought that about LaRue as well.

Smooth, subtle movements are the only ones that work, and you can do more harm than good if you're not adept at it.

So essentially we are talking about the umpires not doing their jobs correctly then, right? How the catcher catches the ball should have no effect on a ball or a strike, right?

Patrick Bateman
06-18-2011, 07:24 PM
So essentially we are talking about the umpires not doing their jobs correctly then, right? How the catcher catches the ball should have no effect on a ball or a strike, right?

I think it's more because there is of course a human elemant with umpiring. Like all people, perception will have a huge effect and I think a small thing like framing could very well have "some" effect on close pitches. It's not an umpiring issue per se, it's a human thing.

VR
06-18-2011, 07:32 PM
So essentially we are talking about the umpires not doing their jobs correctly then, right? How the catcher catches the ball should have no effect on a ball or a strike, right?

Technically doug, you are 100% correct.


I think it helps what they 'think' they see. To judge where a 90+ mph ball with movement actually crosses through the zone has it's imperfections, any little help the catcher can provide would only be beneficial. You may only be improving by thousandths of percentage points....but every little bit might help.

Caveman Techie
06-18-2011, 07:53 PM
There is more to it than just moving the glove back in to the strikezone. On an outside pitch if the catcher catches the ball and fold the glove in with the edge of the glove coming back in to the strikezone in one fluid motion, that is a pitch he might get for his pitcher (hard to explain). A former minor league catcher I talked to one time said he estimated he got 2-3 calls a game for his pitcher that way.

TOBTTReds
06-18-2011, 10:13 PM
I think tonight is a big example. I bet Volq gets more called strikes tonight if Hanigan is back there. Hernandez has not attempted to frame one single pitch that was chin high (on Hernandez). Volquez's strike zone seems to have a very low zone tonight. Hold the freakin pitch, and you'll get some more calls.

(Sorry for the last sentance anger, needed a small vent!)

kaldaniels
06-19-2011, 12:14 AM
How the catcher catches the ball should have no effect on a ball or a strike, right?

Right. It shouldn't, but it does at times. And until they develop and implement a laser based system to call balls and strikes, it always will have an effect. Complaining (not that you are) about it is futile.

Red Leader
06-19-2011, 12:30 AM
I think it's an important task, hard to pin down that stuff, but you're selling the pitchers control to the umpire and that's important.

Nicely stated, woy.

It depends on who you're asking Doug. As the father of a 12 yr old that catches. As someone who played there. I know that we teach framing pitches now. I know that I was always taught to frame pitches. As a catcher - it's a skill you have to develop over time.

For the most part, when you get to the minor and major league level (for the most part)it's a little more about pre-pitch positioning than it is about "framing." The really good catchers at that level, you don't notice framing on very many pitches, it's just the way they catch a pitch. They've developed and perfected hand and body positioning when receiving the ball. It's truly a skill that's been developed over a lifetime.

Also, just like the player who's developed the skill, the umpires have done the same with the strike zone (seriously - I've witnessed...from the ground up...both of them...just brutal, on both ends). Anyway, sometimes even at the MLB level you'll notice an umpire give the catcher the call on a good frame of a breaking ball. It's always been that way. It hope it continues to always be that way because I think framing is important. It's tradition of the game.

George Anderson
06-19-2011, 02:03 AM
So essentially we are talking about the umpires not doing their jobs correctly then, right? How the catcher catches the ball should have no effect on a ball or a strike, right?

How the catcher catches the ball very much has a bearing if the ball is a strike or not.

The catchers job is to make the pitch look like a strike. If a pitch is low and the catcher swipes down at the ball then it is very unlikely to get the pitch called a strike as opposed to catching the ball where it is thrown at and holding the ball where I can see it was caught at. The same goes if the pitch is border line outside or even inside, if the catcher swipes at the ball to where he makes it look like the pitch was outside or inside then it very much lessens his chance of getting the pitch called a strike. You may not want to hear this but in he world of umpiring it very much is a reality. If the catcher is not helping me in catching the ball to where I can see it then he is not going to get the benefit of doubt on borderline pitches.

Having a catcher who knows how to properly catch a pitch and hold it so the umpire can see it as opposed to swiping at the ball can make the difference in alot of cases 10-15 pitches either being called a ball or a strike.

George Anderson
06-19-2011, 02:07 AM
There is more to it than just moving the glove back in to the strikezone. On an outside pitch if the catcher catches the ball and fold the glove in with the edge of the glove coming back in to the strikezone in one fluid motion, that is a pitch he might get for his pitcher (hard to explain). A former minor league catcher I talked to one time said he estimated he got 2-3 calls a game for his pitcher that way.

You are right. A good catcher can twist his glove on an outside pitch to make it look like a strike even though it was several inches outside. It doesn't always work but on occasion the umpire will get blocked from seeing an outside pitch to where he only only sees where the glove ended up and not where he caught it several inches outside. Or the umpire simply got fooled by not following the pitch to the mitt. It happens, trust me.

George Anderson
06-19-2011, 02:12 AM
I was just having a discussion with someone about what is important to catcher defense and that was brought up by the other party. My question to him was "does the umpire ever even look at the catchers glove after the ball has crossed home plate"?

The strikezone isn't defined by where the catcher catches the ball, because the catchers glove is well behind home plate. The strikezone is defined by where the ball is when it crosses the plate.

So, I bring it here to you guys.... how much, if any importance do you actually put on a catchers ability to "frame a pitch"?

Following the ball from the pitchers hand to the catchers mitt is fundamental in calling balls and strikes. I have worked with several former AAA, AA and Divison 1 College umpires and this is taught by all of them.

Big Klu
06-19-2011, 02:22 AM
How the catcher catches the ball very much has a bearing if the ball is a strike or not.

The catchers job is to make the pitch look like a strike. If a pitch is low and the catcher swipes down at the ball then it is very unlikely to get the pitch called a strike as opposed to catching the ball where it is thrown at and holding the ball where I can see it was caught at. The same goes if the pitch is border line outside or even inside, if the catcher swipes at the ball to where he makes it look like the pitch was outside or inside then it very much lessens his chance of getting the pitch called a strike. You may not want to hear this but in he world of umpiring it very much is a reality. If the catcher is not helping me in catching the ball to where I can see it then he is not going to get the benefit of doubt on borderline pitches.

Having a catcher who knows how to properly catch a pitch and hold it so the umpire can see it as opposed to swiping at the ball can make the difference in alot of cases 10-15 pitches either being called a ball or a strike.

I used to coach high school baseball several years ago, and we had a catcher who was naturally good at framing pitches. He was also good at holding a pitch so the ump could see it. Anyway, we had a game where the umpire came to our dugout and told us that if our catcher didn't stop framing pitches and holding the mitt still to show the ump where the ball was, then he was going to eject him. We couldn't believe it. Evidently, he thought our guy was trying to "show him up."

mth123
06-19-2011, 05:05 AM
To me, its the most important thing a catcher does. We have stats for a catcher's impact on the running game, so they temd to get the focus of how good a catcher's defense may be, but its really a minor part of his job as compared to how he is catching every single pitch.

lollipopcurve
06-19-2011, 08:39 AM
framing pitches didn't help catchers if I knew they were doing it.

Yeah. I think this is a problem Hernandez has -- he moves the glove too much when trying to get borderline calls. Hanigan just gives the umpire a very good look -- he really doesn't move the glove much (except on balls down, which he will lift just a hair sometimes), but he does catch the ball out in front a ways. Umpires like that good visual, and Hanigan really provides that. And I think pitchers also prefer an approach like Hanigan's -- it shows them where the pitch truly was, and that gives them a better idea of how to proceed.

To answer the original question, I think a catcher's receiving skills are very, very important.

Roy Tucker
06-19-2011, 10:00 AM
This good article talking to Ryan Hanigan says yes indeed. It was in the Enquirer a couple weeks ago and I thought it good.

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20110610/SPT04/306100105/Hanigan-art-framing-ball

George Anderson
06-19-2011, 11:14 AM
I used to coach high school baseball several years ago, and we had a catcher who was naturally good at framing pitches. He was also good at holding a pitch so the ump could see it. Anyway, we had a game where the umpire came to our dugout and told us that if our catcher didn't stop framing pitches and holding the mitt still to show the ump where the ball was, then he was going to eject him. We couldn't believe it. Evidently, he thought our guy was trying to "show him up."

There have been instances where I call a pitch a ball and the catcher holds the ball for like 5 seconds after the call to make the point in his mind that it was a strike when I called it a ball. The best way to handle that is to tell the catcher to please stop doing that. There are other instances where the catcher will try to frame every single pitch thrown to him no matter how bad it is. I just tell the catcher that he will get more strikes if he stops doing that.

For the umpire to go to the dugout and threaten ejection over framing pitches is badly overeacting.

Reds Freak
06-20-2011, 11:50 AM
It's interesting you bring this topic up. I had a conversation about this a few weeks ago with a friend who just earned his doctorate in sports sociology. He argued that framing pitches wasn't morally correct and shouldn't be a part of the game. His point was a strike is a strike and a ball is a ball and the catcher shouldn't be trying to sway the umpire into making a ball look like a strike.

Interesting ethical discussion, but the baseball guy in me obviously had huge problems with his argument.

Johnny Footstool
06-20-2011, 12:00 PM
It's interesting you bring this topic up. I had a conversation about this a few weeks ago with a friend who just earned his doctorate in sports sociology. He argued that framing pitches wasn't morally correct and shouldn't be a part of the game. His point was a strike is a strike and a ball is a ball and the catcher shouldn't be trying to sway the umpire into making a ball look like a strike.

Interesting ethical discussion, but the baseball guy in me obviously had huge problems with his argument.

Morally correct? As in, the catcher is some sort of decadent, corrupt desperado?

What about those filthy brigands who (gasp) steal signs?

Roy Tucker
06-20-2011, 12:08 PM
It's interesting you bring this topic up. I had a conversation about this a few weeks ago with a friend who just earned his doctorate in sports sociology. He argued that framing pitches wasn't morally correct and shouldn't be a part of the game. His point was a strike is a strike and a ball is a ball and the catcher shouldn't be trying to sway the umpire into making a ball look like a strike.

Interesting ethical discussion, but the baseball guy in me obviously had huge problems with his argument.

Jeez, I'd hate to hear what he says about taking a charge in basketball or flopping in soccer. Morally bankrupt.

He probably loves golf. :)

Reds Freak
06-20-2011, 12:37 PM
Morally correct? As in, the catcher is some sort of decadent, corrupt desperado?

What about those filthy brigands who (gasp) steal signs?

Ah, we've covered stealing signs. He argues that a third base coach or a catcher giving signs are public actions in front of thousands of fans and millions of TV viewers. Therefore reading and interpreting a team's signs is not stealing and not cheating.

He does like golf, Roy. In fact, he just had a paper published on 'Spectator Interaction'. He argues that a sporting contest is supposed to be a competition to test the skills and talents of two teams to see who is better and fans shouldn't be a part of it. Fan involvement, such as the '12th Man' in football or waving your arms behind a basket to distract a free throw shooter, should be outlawed much like in golf and tennis.

He's an interesting guy to say the least and a huge Reds fan!

westofyou
06-20-2011, 12:40 PM
It's interesting you bring this topic up. I had a conversation about this a few weeks ago with a friend who just earned his doctorate in sports sociology. He argued that framing pitches wasn't morally correct and shouldn't be a part of the game. His point was a strike is a strike and a ball is a ball and the catcher shouldn't be trying to sway the umpire into making a ball look like a strike.

Interesting ethical discussion, but the baseball guy in me obviously had huge problems with his argument.

"A guy who cheats in a friendly game of cards is a cheater. A pro who throws a spitball to support his family is a competitor."

George Bamberger

Big Klu
06-20-2011, 01:00 PM
Jeez, I'd hate to hear what he says about taking a charge in basketball or flopping in soccer. Morally bankrupt.

He probably loves golf. :)

http://golfgeek.areavoices.com/golfgeek/images/thumbnail/tedbadhat.jpg

"Winter rules."

15fan
06-20-2011, 01:02 PM
To me, its the most important thing a catcher does. We have stats for a catcher's impact on the running game, so they temd to get the focus of how good a catcher's defense may be, but its really a minor part of his job as compared to how he is catching every single pitch.

Framing the pitch is the chest out / arms out / smile at the end of your gymnastics routine that sells the fact that you really did stick the final landing. In no way, shape or form is it the most important thing he does, though.

The catcher needs to know the pitcher, know each hitter, and know the situation. What pitch is working today? Is the pitcher tiring & thus altering his mechanics? Is he falling into a predictable pattern? How is his command? How much time needs to be bought to get the next guy warm in the pen? Does it matter which part of the infield we try to get the inning-ending DP ground ball hit to, or do we need the ground ball to a specific part of the IF because one of the guys has a bum elbow or ankle and can't turn a DP quite as quickly? Can the batter hit a breaking ball with authority? Is the opposing manager likely to have a hit & run or a sacrifice play on for the next pitch? The list goes on and on and on.

The catcher putting his fingers down to call each pitch is without a doubt the most important part of what he does. It's probably the most important thing that happens on the field period.

kaldaniels
06-20-2011, 01:56 PM
It's interesting you bring this topic up. I had a conversation about this a few weeks ago with a friend who just earned his doctorate in sports sociology. He argued that framing pitches wasn't morally correct and shouldn't be a part of the game. His point was a strike is a strike and a ball is a ball and the catcher shouldn't be trying to sway the umpire into making a ball look like a strike.

Interesting ethical discussion, but the baseball guy in me obviously had huge problems with his argument.

And I suppose when a batter goes too far on a check swing and knows it, it is his moral duty to turn to the home plate umpire and say "Yes sir, I went around on that pitch."? ;)

Reds Freak
06-20-2011, 02:27 PM
And I suppose when a batter goes too far on a check swing and knows it, it is his moral duty to turn to the home plate umpire and say "Yes sir, I went around on that pitch."? ;)

Actually he argues it's the players duty to play the game the best they can and its the umpires duty to call the game the best they can. A player trying to overturn an umpire's call would be impinging on the umpire's duty and, therefore, uncalled for. :)

mth123
06-20-2011, 08:20 PM
Framing the pitch is the chest out / arms out / smile at the end of your gymnastics routine that sells the fact that you really did stick the final landing. In no way, shape or form is it the most important thing he does, though.

The catcher needs to know the pitcher, know each hitter, and know the situation. What pitch is working today? Is the pitcher tiring & thus altering his mechanics? Is he falling into a predictable pattern? How is his command? How much time needs to be bought to get the next guy warm in the pen? Does it matter which part of the infield we try to get the inning-ending DP ground ball hit to, or do we need the ground ball to a specific part of the IF because one of the guys has a bum elbow or ankle and can't turn a DP quite as quickly? Can the batter hit a breaking ball with authority? Is the opposing manager likely to have a hit & run or a sacrifice play on for the next pitch? The list goes on and on and on.

The catcher putting his fingers down to call each pitch is without a doubt the most important part of what he does. It's probably the most important thing that happens on the field period.

No doubt that calling a game has a huge impact, but if a catcher isn't good at it, those things can be signed in from he bench. It happens a lot. I agree that I'd rather have a good catcher who can do that, but a team can get by at the position by giving him lots of help from the staff. I agree that those calls probably have a bigger impact, but it can still be done even if the catcher can't do it very well himself. The pitcher himself actually makes the final decision.

The catcher is the only one who can catch the ball and if he can't do that, there really isn't a way to help him. It isn't so much about stealing strikes as it is not giving them away. Guys like Larue and Ross who aren't real smooth back there who swat at the ball to knock it down because they don't catch it well, cause a lot of close pitches to get called balls IMO.

I agree with you about calling a game having a huge impact, but for a position called "Catcher" seems to me that catching the ball is job 1. I might giive you the nod on the other stuff. A catcher needs to know the situation and the status of his pitcher.