Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Best Defensive Catcher In Baseball

   Defense is often the forgotten thought when it comes to baseball. Fans will often speak about hitting and pitching, and fielding goes by the wayside. This is even more the case for catcher defense. I think it is one of the most underrated parts of the game, and often players are not given the credit they deserve. When it comes down to it, a catcher is in every single play of the game. There is a possibility that they can effect and change the outcome of every single pitch. This is why catcher defense is a crucial aspect to look at when identifying a catchers' worth. As a person that watches the Orioles each game, I have become well accustomed to Matt Wieters and his terrific defense. So I decided to take a look at where Wieters stands compared to the other catchers in the league. The stats below are what I used to determine my analysis.

Stolen Base Runs Saved (rSB)-  Gives the catcher credit for throwing out runners and preventing them from attempting steals in the first place.
Defensive Runs Saved (DRS)- Indicates how many runs a player saved or hurt his team in the field compared to the average player at his position.
Counted Passed Pitches (CPP)- The expected number of passed pitches.
Runs Passed Pitches (RPP)- The number of runs above / below average a pitcher is at blocking pitches.
Fan Scouting Report (FSR)- This is a less credible statistic to use, but still gives a pretty good  idea to where a player stands defensively, especially in the eyes of the people who watch the player each day; the fans.It's a fun stat nonetheless. Look at it as another stat such as WAR or DRS.

A few notes:
-16 Catchers "qualified" in the 2011 season. Catchers such as Mike Napoli, Carlos Santana, Joe Mauer, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Buster Posey did not qualify, even though majority of them played almost enough innings to qualify.
- Some of these stats can be cumulative, which is another reason I am using only qualifying players. Lou Marson is a very good defensive catcher, but you wouldn't really see him as a standout by just glancing at him due to only playing about half the innings that these qualifying players did.
-These are not the only statistics to study for catchers, but they give an efficient and effective outlook on them in my own opinion.

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   As seen above, Matt Wieters seems to be the clear favorite for best defensive catcher based off the statistics. He ranks first in four of the six categories used.
   I also ranked all 16 qualifying catchers below. I calculated this by using their average rankings for all the above statistics ( avg(rank) ). Of course, it was not really surprising who landed on top of the list.

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   The total itself does not necessarily mean anything significant, but the ranking does give a good idea as to where a catcher stands. I cannot say I am surprised by the top three. Matt Wieters won the gold glove in the AL, Yadier Molina won in the NL (and won himself a new contract), and Miguel Montero has been under the radar defensively for a while. Russell Martin at four is a little surprising. I was also a little surprised as to where Carlos Ruiz fell. The bottom three are not surprising either.

   In conclusion, Matt Wieters is pretty damn good at defense. I have to give credit to FanGraphs for producing two more amazing statistics to further show this (CPP/RPP). Without their great work, it would be a little bit more difficult to prove how good he truly is.


  1. I think Weiters may be the best cather that has ever played for the Orioles, really exciting to know we have him here. Thanks for breaking it down.

  2. Swag on infinity

  3. wow that nick johnson and now that blog that makes me droll from you

  4. great blog so far! When will we see more?

    Go O's!