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Swihart's second rodeo

Discussion in 'Red Sox Forum' started by Lose Remerswaal, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. barbed wire Bob

    barbed wire Bob crippled by fear Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    This reminded me of an old Sports Illustrated article by Mike Scioscia. He wrote the article after Hershiser threw a three hit shutout in the 1998 World Series. An excerpt:
  2. Dewey'sCannon

    Dewey'sCannon Well-Known Member Silver Supporter

    Factors that go into making a "good" catcher:

    1. Knowing your pitcher
    a. His strengths and weaknesses - pitches, locations, etc.
    b. Ability to recognize what he's got that's working or not working that day.

    2. Knowing the Hitters
    a. their general tendencies, strengths and weaknesses
    b. their recent trends - hot or not, what they've been hitting, whether they've been chasing certin types of pitches, etc.
    c. being able to read the hitter - their set-up, their swing - tips that may indicate what they're trying to do or how they're trying to attack the pitcher.

    3. Pitch calling: taking #1 and #2 into account, as well as factoring in the count and pitch sequencing. This is where catching is a cross between a science and an art form. The catcher is trying to help the pitcher get ahead, and stay ahead, in the count, and set the batter up to get himself out. But if the pitcher falls behind, then the catcher has to adjust the pitch call and sequencing to get the pitcher back in the count without giving the batter the pitch they're looking for (and being too predictable, to the extent possible). This is probably the area where there is the greatest variability - no two catchers are ever going to call a game identically, and a good catcher will never call two games the same because of the differences in the dynamics of each hitter, and each at-bat. You may have a hitter where the gameplan is to get him to chase breaking balls low and away, but how you get there can be accomplished in many different ways.

    4. Target/Receiving/Framing - factors that can maximize the chances that the pitcher will throw the pitch where its supposed to go and maximize the chance that a close pitch will be called a strike.

    I probably left something out, but I think this is a good basic summary of how a good catcher can help a pitcher. Of course, there are other attributes of a good catcher, such as pitch blocking and throwing, that impact the game in other ways.
  3. geoduck no quahog

    geoduck no quahog Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    I envision Vazquez being the back-up catcher from the time he returns. I can't see that changing in the playoffs.

    I also envision Swihart remaining in a utility role through the playoffs. It's just so advantageous to have a switch-hitter off the bench, and the fact that he can also catch amplifies things (what team ever has the luxury of carrying three catchers in the post-season?) Double-switching becomes more of an option.

    So, the question is: do you carry 12 pitchers (yes) or do you leave Nunez or Holt off the team (no).

    That's my prediction anyway.
  4. Red(s)HawksFan

    Red(s)HawksFan Member SoSH Member

    With the shorter starting rotation in the post-season, you don't *need* 12 pitchers to have the normal 7 relievers in the bullpen. You also don't have the restriction of keeping players on the roster due to lack of options. So it really doesn't have to come down to 12th pitcher versus 5th bench player to keep everyone around. They could leave a Pomeranz or Johnson completely off the roster for a round or more and not leave themselves short-handed.
  5. sean1562

    sean1562 Member SoSH Member


    I feel like Vazquez is just a slightly worse version of Leon
  6. Saints Rest

    Saints Rest Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    The one piece that I thought of that you left out (and I didnt come up with this, one of the great RS pitchers, maybe Pedro, maybe Eck, maybe Schill) noted how sometimes, you intentionally want to give up something early to set up something for later. I would imagine that expanding on your excellent list would include the way a catcher must also think big picture. No pitcher pitches the same in the first inning as they do later in the game. Sometimes they get better, sometimes worse. A catcher must be thinking of not just this AB but the 2nd, 3rd, and of very lucky, 4th, time that a batter sees a pitcher.
  7. Dewey'sCannon

    Dewey'sCannon Well-Known Member Silver Supporter

    Absolutely. You don't necessarily want to show to show all your best stuff early, unless you really need it to get out of an early jam. So you may use an early at-bat to help set up a later one, if the early one is low leverage.

    But remember that some hitters (like Manny) may be playing this game too. So a bit of a chess match.
  8. keninten

    keninten lurker

    Dick Allen used to say he did this early in the game. Swing and miss at something he liked and later in the game he`d look for that pitch.
  9. reggiecleveland

    reggiecleveland sublime Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    I expect when you were guaranteed to see the starter 3 times that was a better strategy
  10. joe dokes

    joe dokes Member SoSH Member

    And now you see the sublime hitters -- Manny and JDM come to mind because they're local -- setting up pitchers within an at bat. They may only get 2 shots at a starter, so no time for the long game.
  11. tonyarmasjr

    tonyarmasjr Member SoSH Member

    Well, Dan Butler is undefeated!

    I think most everybody here agrees that catcher defense isn't valued properly, due in large part to many of its intricacies, a bunch of which are identified in this thread, being unquantifiable. The WAR values are an approximation, but they're only based on (some of) those things that can be quantified. There would have to be some correlation between catcher defense and things like pitcher performance and winning percentage, but you wouldn't be able to see it until you can capture "catcher defense." Catcher's ERA attempts to do something like the former without the latter. Defense around the diamond is just starting to go in a direction that could give us some better metrics with the addition of statcast, and catching is significantly more complex and nuanced. It needs its own field of study (I think the "what does a catcher do" discussion here could use its own thread).

    To ehaz's points, I don't know that there is a visible value he provides over and above what any decent defensive catcher does. Good luck to either of us arguing that, though. Vazquez's struggles throughout the year make it even harder to compare. I agree if all else is equal, I'd want the best defensive catcher. But, all else is not equal, we don't know how unequal, and we don't even know who the best defensive catcher is. To say the pitchers and coaching staff can't live without him is obviously an overstatement. Chris Sale would still be a good pitcher even if I were catching him. Pitchers seem to like throwing to him, and there's probably something to that. The coaching staff/front office has kept him on for several years now; there's probably something to that, too.

    That 25 of 27 streak dates back to June 21st, if I'm looking at his game logs right. The team is 33-9 overall, with a 3.69 ERA, in that time period. On offense, Sandy has a wRC+ of 63 over that streak. Do we really think his otherworldly-good defensive impact is the reason for that streak? My guess would be that the biggest difference in splits is that Sandy Leon catches Chris Sale. If someone wants to parse game logs and split that data, have at it. It's a fun stat, but it really doesn't mean anything. What's the difference in his teams' pitching performance/record over his career when he catches vs. when he doesn't?
  12. normstalls

    normstalls Member SoSH Member

    Activated from the DL

    Dan Butler was DFA'd

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