It is often said that Paul Bako was brought to town and kept over Ross because he "works well with pitchers and calls a good game".Code:# YEAR NAME AGE PA EqA OBP SLG VORP RAR RAP 13. 2008 David Ross 31 173 .270 .381 .366 4.5 6.8 3.3 29. 2008 Paul Bako 36 281 .216 .291 .335 -6.8 -3.7 -9.4
But what is the value of working well with the pitchers/calling a good game? How does that make the Reds win more ball games?
Let's start on the offensive side of the plate. I did a ranking of all NL catchers with 100 PA's. The list is sorted by VORP decending. So out of 31 qualifying catchers, Bako is 29th on the list. His OBP is nearly 100 points less than Ross. He's actually less valuable at the plate than a replacement scrub type (VORP) and creates less runs than a scrub catcher could be expected to create (RAR). Compared to other catchers he creates far fewer runs than his fellow backstops (which is pretty sad considering the current state of offensive catchers).
Now lets explore defense. I'm not a fan of (m)any defensive stats. FWIW, his FPCT is .993 and RF is 8.38. He throws out .311% of the attempted base runners. 6 passed balls thus far. We can argue over his defense till the cows come home. So lets call it neutral at best. I watch with my eyes and I'm not impressed.
So for his "handling of the pitchers" to benefit the Reds it has to exceede the immense drag he creates at the plate and his run-of-the mill ball handling skills. I've taken a look at an assortment of pitchers that were here last year (pre-Bako) and this year (post-Bako).
For the theory of "Bako handles the staff well" to hold water, I would expect to see dramatic improvements in performance from year to year. That is, changes in performance beyond normal fluctuations in year-to-year performance.
Doesn't look like any real significant improvements there. At the very least, no noticable pattern, with the interesting execption of K/9. Every guy, save Bailey, has seen an improvement in his K/9 rate. Some guys significantly.Code:# YEAR NAME IP H9 BB9 SO9 HR9 SO/BB 5. 2007 David Weathers 77.7 7.76 3.13 5.56 0.46 1.78 9. 2008 David Weathers 54.0 10.00 3.67 6.50 1.00 1.77 # YEAR NAME IP H9 BB9 SO9 HR9 SO/BB 10. 2007 Homer Bailey 45.3 8.54 5.56 5.56 0.60 1.00 12. 2008 Homer Bailey 36.3 14.61 4.21 4.46 1.98 1.06 # YEAR NAME IP H9 BB9 SO9 HR9 SO/BB 11. 2007 Jared Burton 43.0 5.86 4.60 7.53 0.42 1.64 10. 2008 Jared Burton 48.3 8.38 3.17 9.31 0.56 2.94 # YEAR NAME IP H9 BB9 SO9 HR9 SO/BB 18. 2007 Gary Majewski 23.0 16.83 1.17 3.91 1.17 3.33 13. 2008 Gary Majewski 31.7 11.37 2.84 5.40 1.14 1.90 # YEAR NAME IP H9 BB9 SO9 HR9 SO/BB 22. 2007 Bill Bray 14.3 10.05 3.14 8.79 0.63 2.80 11. 2008 Bill Bray 40.0 9.45 4.50 9.68 0.68 2.15
But is that directly attributable to Bako? If he can effect more K's couldn't he reduce the number of walks also? No pattern there. Homers? Nope, no pattern there (in fact, most guys are giving up more long-balls). Hits per 9? Negative.
So the improvement in k/9 could be from Bako. Then again, it could be from Dick Pole, random variations or changes in strike-zone management by the umps.
So if Bako is "handling the pitchers and calling a good game" where is the bottom line improvement to the Reds?
I can believe a catcher can do a lot for young pitchers that can never be measured. Things like calming him down, giving him pitch advise, kicking him in the butt are hard to prove other than (1) improvements in staff performance that show up in the numbers (2) a constant parade of pitchers saying "I love Paul Bako" in interviews.
I don't see or hear either here.
My conclusion....Bakos bat destroys whatever negligable and tenious improvement he creates by defense and "handling the pitchers well".