Framing and blocking pitches: A regressed, probablistic model

From Dan Brooks and SABR member Harry Pavlidis at Baseball Prospectus on March 3, 2014:

The mechanics of framing pitches are simple enough to explain: Quiet, mechanically sound catchers with a knack for good receiving help their pitchers by getting favorable calls from the home plate umpire. This effect has been known ever since umpires started calling balls and strikes. Although it wasn’t always called framing, it has long been a source of speculation and commentary about prominent catchers.

Since the beginning of the PITCHf/x era, researchers have calculated framing in several different ways. We are presenting a new method that we will call the “Regressed Probabilistic Model” of framing (RPM for short). In brief, RPM works by calculating the combined probability (and associated run value) that each pitch will be called a strike; summing those probabilities (and run values) across opportunities; attributing those values to a player (catcher or pitcher); and regressing “career” values to the mean.

We will freely admit: If you haven’t seen the results of previous framing studies, it can be tough to wrap your mind around the size of the impact of a good or bad framing catcher. These effect sizes are not out of line with what has been reported in the past, but they’re still obscenely large. Everyone agrees that Mike Trout was either a deserving MVP or a deserving runner-up in each of the past two seasons, which the stats say were worth close to 10 wins apiece. Our data suggest that over the past five years, the teams that have employed good framers like Jonathan Lucroy, Brian McCann, and Jose Molina have received essentially “free” MVP-caliber seasons from framing alone. (Each of those catchers has been worth about two extra wins per season over that span). This is a staggering amount of value. Add in the fact that these wins are almost assuredly not properly priced into the free agent market, and the difference between having a good framing catcher or a bad framing catcher can make or break a cost-conscious team.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: March 3, 2014. Last Updated: March 3, 2014.