Archive for July, 2011

Jose Bautista’s Historic Season and the Hall of Fame

Jose Bautista is in the midst of a historic year. Jose Bautista will in all likelihood not make it into the Hall of Fame.

Much has already been said about the unique career arc of Joey Bats, with a particular focus on how ridiculous the number’s he’s putting up this season really are. Through Sunday the Blue Jays had played in 85 games. Jose Bautista has accumulated 5.8 fWAR over that time. Extrapolating that pace (and also taking into account a proportional number of missed games the rest of the way) over the course of the year would give Bautista about 11.1 fWAR.

That is a really large WAR number. In the history of baseball only 37 position players have recorded a season of 11.1 fWAR. Albert Pujols has never amassed such WAR in a single season; Hank Aaron never came close to that.

Read the rest of this entry »

Do Catchers Influence Pitcher Performance? The Story of Spanky and Sluggo

From Opening Day to April 20th, Red Sox pitchers posted a 7.14 ERA when Jarrod Saltalamacchia was behind the plate versus a 2.40 ERA when Jason Varitek started. The resulting hubbub about this split made one fact extremely clear, when comparing the influence of different catchers, sample size is really really important.

Already by June 24th, Varitek and Salty’s split has been greatly reduced, with pitchers now throwing a 3.44 ERA to the veteran captain and a 4.36 ERA to the new guy. I would bet that these numbers will continue to converge as the season drags on, but even after 182 games it’s unlikely that either catcher will have enough innings to statistically test whether one is calling a better game. This is the difficulty of assessing catcher performance: comparing catchers between teams is near impossible (because the pitching staffs are different), and comparing catchers within teams is difficult (because sample sizes are small and different pitchers use different catchers). Nevertheless, many still believe that catchers do influence pitcher performance. Where can we find the data to support this hypothesis?

Read the rest of this entry »