What’s In A Name: “Behind The Numbers”-Catchers Edition

Back in December of 2019 I wrote an article about what I believed to be the Pirates Real Problem at Catcher, which focused on the lack of depth that the organization had at the Major League and Minor League levels. Just prior to this new Pirates’ General Manager Ben Cherington had chosen not to tender an offer of arbitration to catcher Elias Diaz, leaving Jacob Stallings the lone catcher on the Pirates’ 40 Man Roster. Since that time Cherington has added one catcher via free agency, Luke Mailie, and invited two veteran catchers to Spring Training as Non-Roster Invitees, John Ryan Murphy and Andrew Susac. There have also been three other catchers invited from within the Pirates’ Current Farm System; Christian Kelley (Indianapolis Indians-AAA), Jason Delay (Altoona Curve-AA) and Arden Pabst (Altoona Curve-AA) to participate in Spring Training activities and games. Not surprisingly, none of the names that I just listed were on the list of Free Agent Targets that many argued over in columns, blogs, articles and forums/group discussions from pretty much the time that the season ended. I will admit that even I had some veteran catchers on a short list of candidates to provide a veteran presence, ability level and knowledge to the only catcher on the roster at the time, Stallings, as well as many of the young pitchers on the Pirates’ staff, none of which have been signed by the Pirates as of the writing of the article. Under the previous regime it became a pattern of signing and/or acquiring a veteran catcher, whether it be Russell Martin for two years or Francisco Cervelli for four, to provide some stability behind the dish. GM Ben Cherington chose not to go that route or at least he has not done so as of yet. Most of the catchers that people were clamoring for the Pirates to sign during the offseason have been scooped up by one team or another. There are couple still out there, but it is unclear as to whether or not coming to Pittsburgh would even be an option for them. However, for this little “experiment” of mine, all of this is irrelevant. 

If this is your first time here, welcome. If it isn’t, thank you for coming back to what will be the final installment in the five part series of players behind the numbers. Thus far I have asked all of you to take a look at Pitchers, Relief Pitchers, Infielders and Outfielders. This time we will obviously be focusing on Catchers. To those of you who participated at any point of the past four weeks, please bear with me as I once again go over the rules for those who missed out the first couple of times. I will be giving you a list that are made up of Current or Former Pirates, Free Agent Targets that have been discussed on various platforms and Free Agents that have signed this off-season. Voting will take place from the moment the article is published on Wednesday Morning, until I wake up Thursday Morning (usually around 5 AM). Once all of the votes have been tallied, I will write a follow up article revealing all of the names of the player from that week’s list and discuss what players have been chosen as the “most wanted” to be in a Pittsburgh Pirate’s Uniform. Now with all that being said, I am relying on all of you guys and gals to be on the honor system. Please do not look up statistics to try to figure out who each player is! Please do not tell anyone who a player is, even if you know it for the same reason I might; which is that I am total “stats nerd”! Please no arguments, only fun discussions! Now that we have all the formalities out of the way, let’s get started!

This week as we focus on Catchers, I will be providing you with both offensive and defensive statistics and metrics. . Every player will be judged and chosen using the same statistics and metrics. The statistics/metrics that will be used to compare the list of Infielders today will be: 1) The Classic Slash Line- AVG. (Batting Average)/OBP (On Base Percentage)/SLG (Slugging Percentage)  2) HR (Home Runs) 3) XBH (Extra Base Hits) 4) wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus) 5) WAR (Wins Above Replacement) 6) FRM (Catcher Framing) 6) DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) 6) CS% (Caught Stealing Percentage). For those of you that are familiar with these Statistics you probably already know that I use FanGraphs to do my research, which is not always a favorite of everyone, but it is the one that I use the most due to the fact that is easy to navigate. In the future I would be willing to use any site that is recommended to me, with great explanation as to why it is the superior site. However for the duration of this experiment I will be using the one that I am most comfortable with. So if you need to please use the FanGraphs glossary for further explanation of a specific statistic.

Here is the list of the 13 Catchers (Please Pick 3): 

Player

Slash Line

HRs

XBH

wRC+ 

WAR

FRM

DRS

CS%

A

.232/.332/.435

12

22

103

1.6

3.2

-7

19.4

B

.281/.310/.439

8

20

95

.9

-.9

1

30.3

C

.175/.246/.413

4

7

66

.2

1.1

3

35.5

D

.241/.296/.307

2

16

81

-1.5

-13.1

-23

26.3

E

.238/.347/.443

17

40

113

2.3

-5.6

3

21.1

F

.220/.337/.330

6

11

83

1.2

5.6

2

17.9

G

.262/.325/.382

6

11

82

1.3

6.0

13

40.0

H

.209/.267/.417

12

24

78

-1.0

-7.6

-10

23.3

I

.251/.312/.433

16

32

98

1.6

.6

-3

28.6

J

.251/.318/.393

5

17

91

-.2

-6.5

-6

16.7

K

.232/.305/.355

8

19

77

-.5

-5.8

-14

25.4

L*

.248/.333/.366

3

17

95

2.1

8.2

4

30.2

M

.207/.353/.421

9

17

97

1.3

2.8

2

50.0

*2018-Last Qualifying Season

Please comment below and return tomorrow to find out the results, along with the revealing of each Catcher behind the numbers.

Thank you first and foremost to everyone that has joined us on the new site! We are truly humbled by the support. Also I would ask that everyone be patient as there will be some bumps along the way during the transition. However, as always we will do our best to provide all of you the best and fairest Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball coverage that we can! It is our mission! It is our passion!

Speaking of bumps, I am on the road today, currently watching batting practice at Pirates City, trying to edit this article and the table I created for the players won’t let me edit it so we are just going to have wing it a little bit today. Here goes nothing!

As I discussed earlier in this article, catching was made a priority in the off-season; by the fans, reporters, writers and even the club itself. Now as it sit here exactly two weeks away from opening day, many think that the Pittsburgh Pirates and General Manager Ben Cherington have not done enough to address the position. If you were the GM, who would you have kept, picked up or traded for? Well you all had that “chance” before the big reveal.

Catchers

A) Jason Castro B) Austin Romine C)John Ryan Murphy D) Elias Diaz E) Robinson Chirinos F) Russell Martin G) Jacob Stallings H) Wellington Castillo I) Travis d’Arnaud J) Kevan Smith K) Jonathan Lucroy L) Luke Maile M) Alex Avila

During the vote from yesterday to today the following players were the ones chosen most frequently; Austin Romine, Robinson Chirinos and Jacob Stallings. It would be hard to get input from everyone as to why people picked the catchers they did. Maybe they were looking for offense, others may have been looking strictly at defense, while others took both into consideration. Romine and Stallings are a solid mix of both. Chirinos on the other hand struggled somewhat behind the dish last year. I guess all depends what you are looking for in a catcher. This discussion could take a turn at any point in time with the introduction of “robo-umps”, but for now the value of the catcher position is still up for debate.

 

Published by Craig W. Toth

Former Contributing Author at InsidethePirates.com, Co-Host of the Bucs in the Basement Podcast and life-long/diehard Pittsburgh Pirates Fan!

3 thoughts on “What’s In A Name: “Behind The Numbers”-Catchers Edition

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