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Reframing Catcher Pop Time Grades Using Statcast Data

With the advent of Statcast, statistics like exit velocity, spin rate, and launch angle have become easily accessible to baseball fans. Catcher pop time data has also become available. However, unlike some of the other Statcast metrics, catcher pop time data has existed for much longer, with scouts measuring pop times in the minor leagues years before Statcast entered the mix.

This sounds all well and dandy, right? Well, it would be, if the Statcast numbers were consistent with scouting pop time tool grades. Baseball Prospectus, for example, calls a pop time from 1.7-1.8 a 70 pop time, which sounds reasonable enough without any context. However, considering the best average Statcast pop time to second base from 2015 to 2019 was JT Realmuto’s 1.88 (minimum 10 throws to second), something seems amiss here. I decided to take a deeper look into Statcast’s pop time data to get a better idea of what’s going on.

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