Sullivan: The beginning of the end for pitch-framing?

From Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs on January 26, 2016:

Pitch-framing as an idea has existed for almost as long as the game, but it wasn’t until we started getting numbers for it that people really started to think about it in depth. At that point we were introduced to the idea of a catcher potentially being worth a few extra wins just because of how he catches pitches behind the plate. That was startling, and it was fascinating, but there was an important question that wasn’t being discussed enough — is the existence of pitch-framing good? Valid arguments on either side. But it seemed that there was nothing to be done until we got an automated strike zone. Humans will be humans, after all.

On the other hand, humans can change. Humans can learn; humans can be trained. One interesting observation during the PITCHf/x era is that, over time, those human umpires have collectively started to call an increasingly consistent zone. PITCHf/x provided feedback, and umpires could get better as a result. Now, I can’t help but wonder if we’re seeing the beginning of the end for pitch-framing. Catchers are always going to catch a little differently, but I wonder if there are fewer available rewards.


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Originally published: January 26, 2016. Last Updated: January 26, 2016.