I haven’t posted much about Yankees since 2012 playoffs. It’s been a very quiet winter for Yankees. Except resigning Kuroda, Pettitte, MO, and Ichiro, there’s been little to talk about (Oh, I guess I just left out someone unintentionally~ Hello~ Ex-Red Sox 3rd baseman Keven Youkilis as a backup before A-rod comes back from his hip surgery). However, there’s been suspicion of Yankees’ in-house catchers after Russel Martin’s departure. I’ve believed Cashman must have some source to prove the position behind the plate isn’t an urgent issue to address, or he would have done something about it, wouldn’t he? Here could be explaining why:
Since 2007, by PITCHf/x, Molina has caught nearly 26,000 pitches that weren’t swung at. By location, he’s caught 917 more strikes than you’d expect, or about 36 more strikes per 1,000 called pitches. Since 2010, Molina has caught about 29 more strikes per 1,000 called pitches. This is a significant effect; every pitch matters, and these things add up. Stewart has caught more than 8,000 called pitches, and by location, he’s caught 213 more strikes than you’d expect, or about 25 more strikes per 1,000 called pitches. Since 2010, Stewart has caught about 28 more strikes per 1,000 called pitches. This is also a significant effect, and it rates Stewart among the premier pitch-framers in the game. He’s comparable to Jose Molina, he’s comparable to Jonathan Lucroy, he’s comparable to Brian McCann.
There’s strong evidence, making him a sort of Jose Molina approximation. If you believe that Molina is a good player for the Rays, you should be open to the idea of Stewart being a good player for the Yankees. One notes that the Rays were just 41-39 in Molina starts last year, which, okay, but that isn’t a very good evaluation tool. The Rays like Molina quite a bit. The Rays might also like Chris Stewart to a somewhat similar degree. Or dislike him, on account of he’s a rival of theirs.
We don’t know enough to say how much value Chris Stewart truly provides with his pitch receiving. We don’t know enough to say whether Stewart should get more playing time in 2013 than Cervelli or Romine, in the event the roster doesn’t change. What we have is reason to believe that Chris Stewart is better than the rest of his numbers would indicate. He might even be tremendously underrated, depending on your faith in the research. It’s something. And for a player with Chris Stewart’s other numbers, it’s really something.
Here is another analysis on the same topic:
Fast’s piece was written last year and so didn’t include 2012 data, but he identified Jose Molina, Russell Martin, Yorvit Torrealba, Jonathan Lucroy and Yadier Molina as the five best catchers from 2007-11 and Ryan Doumit, Gerald Laird, Jorge Posada, Jason Kendall and Kenji Johjima as the five worst.
I recorded 78 different catchers that caught at least 1,000 called pitches in 2012. My top five came out as Jose Molina (+2.47 per game), David Ross, Chris Stewart, Jonathan Lucroy and Erik Kratz. Ross ranked 14th by Fast’s measure and while neither Stewart nor Kratz had enough playing time to qualify back in 2011, both ranked well in their small samples then.
More than a year ago, I translated an article on The Economics about pitch framing. I then called it “the art of a catcher” (補手的“藝術”): https://twyankeesfan.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/%E6%8D%95%E6%89%8B%E7%9A%84%E8%97%9D%E8%A1%93/ In hindsight, it might provide more accurate (valuable to the front office of each team) than we thought~