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Thread: Pitch framing and the pitcher ability

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Pitch framing and the pitcher ability

    So, I have had this thought before, but while looking at the Homer Bailey and Ryan Hanigan article at fangraphs, I thought about it again and wanted to bring it up and see what you guys think.

    In that article, the author notes this:
    Ryan Hanigan is nothing if not explicit when he shows his target behind the plate. Its especially noticeable when he calls for a pitch on or around the corners of the plate. Hanigan will exaggerate the spot and push his glove out of the strike zone before placing his final target. Its as if to tell Bailey, Hey, if you miss it, miss it out here.
    Then there are two images that show the target and the pitch being caught. We have data that shows us that there is a rather large difference between catchers abilities to frame pitches to get strike calls.

    Now, obviously I think there is something to it. But I also wonder if a decent part of being able to frame the pitch has more to do with the pitcher being able to hit his spot. In the most recently linked article, Mike Fast notes that glove or even head movement may be costing pitchers/catchers strikes. Well, if the pitch is consistently hitting the target directly, the glove isn't moving. If the target is being hit directly, there is no reason for the head to move either.

    So, my question is, and there isn't really a way to test this out with data unless someone were to literally overlay video for every pitch and then chart that for every pitch in the game (this isn't going to happen), do catchers who have pitchers who can better control their fastball "frame pitches" better by default, since their guys can more often hit the target they put out there, and thus are getting "more value" in these pitch framing articles? Just a thought here, but I wanted to share it and see what you guys thought.

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    Unsolicited Opinions traderumor's Avatar
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    Re: Pitch framing and the pitcher ability

    One thing to consider is that it appears to the eye that MLB umpires consistently call clear strike pitches balls when the catcher has to reach across the zone because of a missed spot. Also, the ump rarely gives the pitch, regardless of location, if the catcher mishandles the pitch.
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    For a Level Playing Field RedFanAlways1966's Avatar
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    Re: Pitch framing and the pitcher ability

    Quote Originally Posted by traderumor View Post
    One thing to consider is that it appears to the eye that MLB umpires consistently call clear strike pitches balls when the catcher has to reach across the zone because of a missed spot. Also, the ump rarely gives the pitch, regardless of location, if the catcher mishandles the pitch.
    Then the umipre is not doing the job he is paid to do.
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    Vampire Weekend @Bernie's camisadelgolf's Avatar
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    Re: Pitch framing and the pitcher ability

    So weird. I was talking with Trent Rosecrans about this last night, and I had no idea this article had even been written.

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    Unsolicited Opinions traderumor's Avatar
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    Re: Pitch framing and the pitcher ability

    Quote Originally Posted by RedFanAlways1966 View Post
    Then the umipre is not doing the job he is paid to do.
    Right, but "framing" can result in balls being called strikes also. There has been ample discussion on the umpires calling balls and strikes.

    In a perfect world, the "frame" would allow the umpire to get the call right each and every time. The cleaner the play in baseball, the increase in the likelihood that the umpire will get the call correctly.
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    Viva la Rolen kaldaniels's Avatar
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    Re: Pitch framing and the pitcher ability

    Quote Originally Posted by RedFanAlways1966 View Post
    Then the umipre is not doing the job he is paid to do.
    However it is a known entity, though erroneous. So if you are a catcher and want a job, you better be smooth with the glove.

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Pitch framing and the pitcher ability

    Quote Originally Posted by kaldaniels View Post
    However it is a known entity, though erroneous. So if you are a catcher and want a job, you better be smooth with the glove.
    But my point was, how can a catcher be smooth with the glove if his pitcher can't throw it where the glove is? You can't. So wouldn't a pitchers fastball command have as much or more to do with it than the catchers ability?

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    Viva la Rolen kaldaniels's Avatar
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    Re: Pitch framing and the pitcher ability

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    But my point was, how can a catcher be smooth with the glove if his pitcher can't throw it where the glove is? You can't. So wouldn't a pitchers fastball command have as much or more to do with it than the catchers ability?
    It goes both ways, absolutely.

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    Re: Pitch framing and the pitcher ability

    Quote Originally Posted by RedFanAlways1966 View Post
    Then the umipre is not doing the job he is paid to do.
    True. Umpires should not be so gullible as to be manipulated by the catcher, but many of them are so gullible, so a good catcher should learn to take advantage of them.

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    Re: Pitch framing and the pitcher ability

    Quote Originally Posted by traderumor View Post
    One thing to consider is that it appears to the eye that MLB umpires consistently call clear strike pitches balls when the catcher has to reach across the zone because of a missed spot. Also, the ump rarely gives the pitch, regardless of location, if the catcher mishandles the pitch.
    Did you see the one Chapman threw last night? Hanigan was set up inside, but Chapman missed the spot and threw the ball over the outside part of the plate and it was called a ball even though it was very clearly a strike. The ball wasn't on the outside corner, it was right over the plate, but since he missed his spot by two feet it was called a ball.

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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Pitch framing and the pitcher ability

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    But my point was, how can a catcher be smooth with the glove if his pitcher can't throw it where the glove is? You can't. So wouldn't a pitchers fastball command have as much or more to do with it than the catchers ability?
    In other words, did Maddux get that pitch 6 inches off the plate in part because he was hitting the target?

    I suspect you're right Doug, in that it's additive. You need both a catcher with the skills to stay quiet and a pitcher with the control to allow the catcher to do so.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Member kpresidente's Avatar
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    Re: Pitch framing and the pitcher ability

    I was a catcher, and my thoughts are....it depends on how much he's missing and where. Framing pitches is mostly about how you position your glove as you catch the ball. Basically, all you're trying to do is curl your fingers over the ball as you catch it. You don't want to actually "move" the glove, that's too obvious (sometimes the umps would comment to me about it if I was too obvious). I don't want the ump to think that I think the pitch was a ball.

    So if the pitch is outside part of the plate (RH batter), you want to catch it with your thumb pointing toward the ground and curl your fingers in. If it's inside, the opposite, thumb pointing toward the sky and curl your fingers in. High pitches thumb toward first base and curl down. Low and inside point your thumb at the batter, etc, etc.

    I never really believed I was getting extra strikes, I was just trying not to LOSE strikes, because if your body's not in position, the pitch is going to want to push your glove off the plate.

    Anyway, as far as the OP, it's definitely EASIER to frame the pitches when the guy's hitting his spots. Everything's easier then, you're more relaxed, clear mind, etc. On the other end of the spectrum, if the guy's all over the place, you're just trying to catch the ball, you're worried and stressed, and you're not even thinking about framing pitches. At least not much.

    It's also a lot easier if nobody is on base, because your stance is different. When you're up on your haunches, it's harder to move around behind the plate. Plus, and probably more importantly, you're not worried about the baserunners and wild pitches. So you have to figure if the guy's pitching well, and guys aren't getting on base, you're going to be better at framing the pitches.

    It's also harder to adjust to low pitches than high ones. Moving the glove from thumb toward the sky/thumb toward the ground to thumb toward first base is natural. Not so on low pitches. In fact, if the pitch is lower than you expected, you probably won't even try to really frame it much at all, you just want to catch it without your glove being driven into the ground. Oh, and if it crosses the plate? Again, then you're not so much worried about how your glove is positioned as you are trying to not let the pitch pull you out of the zone so it looks like a ball. Lastly, moving toward your glove hand is usually easier than moving away from it so that matters too.

    The short end of it is...yeah, it probably matters quite a bit, but it depends on a lot of other things too, and quite a few of those other things (eg. men on base) matter a lot more.
    Last edited by kpresidente; 10-01-2012 at 03:32 PM.

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    Re: Pitch framing and the pitcher ability

    Quote Originally Posted by kpresidente View Post
    I was a catcher, and my thoughts are....it depends on how much he's missing and where. Framing pitches is mostly about how you position your glove as you catch the ball. Basically, all you're trying to do is curl your fingers over the ball as you catch it. You don't want to actually "move" the glove, that's too obvious (sometimes the umps would comment to me about it if I was too obvious). I don't want the ump to think that I think the pitch was a ball.

    So if the pitch is outside part of the plate (RH batter), you want to catch it with your thumb pointing toward the ground and curl your fingers in. If it's inside, the opposite, thumb pointing toward the sky and curl your fingers in. High pitches thumb toward first base and curl down. Low and inside point your thumb at the batter, etc, etc.

    I never really believed I was getting extra strikes, I was just trying not to LOSE strikes, because if your body's not in position, the pitch is going to want to push your glove off the plate.

    Anyway, as far as the OP, it's definitely EASIER to frame the pitches when the guy's hitting his spots. Everything's easier then, you're more relaxed, clear mind, etc. On the other end of the spectrum, if the guy's all over the place, you're just trying to catch the ball, you're worried and stressed, and you're not even thinking about framing pitches. At least not much.

    It's also a lot easier if nobody is on base, because your stance is different. When you're up on your haunches, it's harder to move around behind the plate. Plus, and probably more importantly, you're not worried about the baserunners and wild pitches. So you have to figure if the guy's pitching well, and guys aren't getting on base, you're going to be better at framing the pitches.

    It's also harder to adjust to low pitches than high ones. Moving the glove from thumb toward the sky/thumb toward the ground to thumb toward first base is natural. Not so on low pitches. In fact, if the pitch is lower than you expected, you probably won't even try to really frame it much at all, you just want to catch it without your glove being driven into the ground. Oh, and if it crosses the plate? Again, then you're not so much worried about how your glove is positioned as you are trying to not let the pitch pull you out of the zone so it looks like a ball. Lastly, moving toward your glove hand is usually easier than moving away from it so that matters too.

    The short end of it is...yeah, it probably matters quite a bit, but it depends on a lot of other things too, and quite a few of those other things (eg. men on base) matter a lot more.
    Good post!!

    As an umpire I would have loved to have caught behind you because you know how to catch the ball properly when alot of catchers really don't.

    Another point I am sure you agree with is on low pitches don't drop your mitt. Catch the ball out front and hold it so the umpire can see it. A horrible habit of younger catchers especially is moving their mitt downward to catch the ball to the point the mitt ends up in the dirt. Those pitches are rarely called strikes.
    "Boys, I'm one of those umpires that misses 'em every once in a while so if it's close, you'd better hit it." Cal Hubbard

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    Member kpresidente's Avatar
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    Re: Pitch framing and the pitcher ability

    Quote Originally Posted by George Anderson View Post
    Another point I am sure you agree with is on low pitches don't drop your mitt. Catch the ball out front and hold it so the umpire can see it. A horrible habit of younger catchers especially is moving their mitt downward to catch the ball to the point the mitt ends up in the dirt. Those pitches are rarely called strikes.
    I was actually taught to flip the glove around on low pitches and catch it like an infielder taking a grounder. It's harder when you're not expecting low, though.

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    Re: Pitch framing and the pitcher ability

    Giants announcer Mike Krukow said this morning that Bailey has a reputation of being a pitcher with good stuff, who will sometimes miss his spots. Not just the catcher, but the entire defense is positioned based on the pitcher making a specific pitch. In Homers no hitter (and in both playoff games) we saw balls well hit right at a defender.

    RMRick had a post showing Bailey's similar peripherals, this year and last. Homer has a given physical skill, how much difference can mental execution make? I post in this thread, because I was thinking, that the catching skill is less pitch framing, but the ability to keep the pitcher mentally focused on "pitching" (hitting the spot).

    Compared to a quarterback being rushed or a jump shooter being defended, pitchers spend way more time on the mental part of the game. The difference between Homer facing the Pirates in PNC and a bad ERA in GAB, is most likely more mental than the dimensions of the park.

    I think Bailey has stepped up his mental game, plus (I assume) Hannigan will be catching. "Pitching" is about hitting spots more than it is missing bats. "Catching" is making sure your pitcher remembers that.


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