Tourtellotte: Catcher framing: Does size matter, and is age just a number?

From SABR member Shane Tourtellotte at The Hardball Times on August 10, 2015:

There’s not much I need to say in introduction of catcher framing. The advent of PITCHf/x gave sabermetricians the raw data necessary to discover some catchers could indeed “steal” strikes with positioning and movement of their gloves and the rest of their bodies. In the years since the breakthrough was made, framing has become analysts’ favorite “hidden” part of the game, even if it’s not really hidden any longer.

The importance of pitch framing has led to a search for catchers with this ability, and naturally for any possible short-cut in finding such catchers. One such criterion I have seen suggested is a catcher’s height. Bigger catchers, it is postulated, will have more trouble folding themselves into a good squat and demonstrate more long-limbed awkwardness in shifting their mitts just the right way to bring a pitch into the strike zone.

This idea, even if correct, has some serious problems as a scouting tool. That high school prospect you’re following has very probably not stopped growing yet. He’ll top out only in college or well through the minors. In a few cases, he’ll still have room to grow once he reaches the majors.

These concerns only matter, though, if a catcher’s height matters. That’s what I set out to discover.

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Originally published: August 11, 2015. Last Updated: August 11, 2015.