I have a question for coaches, catchers and dads of catchers:

When you talk of CS%, do you count bases stolen when the catcher can't make a throw because the pitch was a curve in the dirt and he had to go block it?

Or do you just count the plays where a throw is made?

I see a lot of posts on this board where people say a catcher throws out 70 or 80%.

In my experience watching baseball at the HS level, a significant percentage of the time that a steal is on, the pitch hits the dirt. I've yet to see a catcher who can go into blocking position and still make the throw in time even if he does catch it cleanly (which the blocking position isn't even designed to do.)

So when I read 70-80%, are these situations excluded?

The other question I have: a lot of successful stolen bases are stolen on the pitcher. When I read 70-80% I think "wow I wish all my son's pitchers were that quick to the plate."

My freshman son just had his first varsity start, and I am sure that varsity pitchers are indeed better at holding runners and getting to the plate quickly. But I can tell you that JV and below, at least half the SB's were off the pitchers.

When I hear of a 13 or 14 year old with a high CS%, I just have to wonder....

So tell me, coaches and dads: do you exclude plays where no throw is made?

The other question I have: what is a good measure of catcher's defensive skill? I think passed balls are more or less meaningless. Any good catcher should have very few PB's.

WP's get blamed on the pitcher, but in my opinion a whole lot of what would technically be scored WP can be blocked by the catcher if he is good.

Of course some WP's simply can't be blocked, or can only be blocked with some good luck.

So, how do you create some meaningful statistic or measurement for how well a catcher actually does block and throw?

I keep track of how "base runners advanced," which basically ignores the reason - passed ball, WP, clean steal, or steal attempt where pitch must be blocked so no throw is made.

This of course "blames" the catcher for a lot of sins not of his making. But for the team, it seems like this is the most relevant stat: how many bases are we giving up without a ball being put in play?

Has anybody else thought through this question?

Stats aren't the point - the point is for the coaching staff to have information that helps them win games. It seems to me that the stats we have for catcher skill are woefully inadequate.

Passed balls should be rare for any quality catcher. Preventing wild pitches, at least at the HS level, seems to me to be one of the most important things a catcher can do, but there isn't any way I know that it is measured. CS% is just too fraught with factors beyond a catcher's control.

I'd be very interested in hearing the thoughts of coaches, catchers and other catcher dads.
Original Post
Much to your disappointment a stolen base is a pure statistic. If the official scorekeeper awards a stolen base to a base runner then the catcher (and the pitcher) are held accountable for that stolen base. Being the father of a catcher I see plays that result in stolen bases where the catcher could NOT have prevented the stolen base yet he is held accountable. So be it. Parental explanations of inequities in the rules are viewed as opinions and should NOT be used to promote one’s son.
The worth of a catcher is in the eyes of the beholder. There are many areas a catcher is judged on and each “judge” would be somewhat different. I do believe passed balls indicate the ability (or inability) of a catcher to call the game (being crossed up creates passed balls) and does indicate to a degree his basic receiving skills. Wild pitches have nothing to do with the catcher ---- I know where you are going with this but you’re getting a little too deep--- you have to trust me wild pitches have nothing to do with a catcher. If a catcher catches a wild pitch then there was no wild pitch for the catcher to catch. As I see it a parent of a catcher has to accept wild pitches and passed balls and stolen bases and leave the evaluation of their son (catcher) up to the coaches and scouts. You need to refrain from ever saying: "Yes, my son had 10 bases stolen off him but..." Big Grin
Fungo
Fungo:

I think, actually, you misread "where I am going with this."

It has nothing to do with explaining stolen bases, or trying to promote my son by explaining inequities in the rules. I am curious about whether scouts and coaches have any finer tools to evaluate catchers' catch and throw skills beyond the woefully inadequate PB's and CS%.

Other positions have measures that are pretty darn objective and meaningful.

You say "the worth of a catcher is in the eye of the beholder" which would confirm what I was saying - the stats are pretty meaningless and so someone has to watch a catcher over several games to get a basis for evaluation that is available for some other positions just from the statistics available.

Obviously there is no set of statistics for any position that gives anyone the sum total of information that is necessary to make a judgement about a player.

But I'm suggesting that for the catching position the available stats are less illuminating than other positions, and wondering if anyone has come up with anything different.
quote:
I am curious about whether scouts and coaches have any finer tools to evaluate catchers' catch and throw skills beyond the woefully inadequate PB's and CS%.

ABSOLUTLY! I never looked at the CS and the PB as woefully inadequate because I never looked at them as that all important. Rob, maybe we need to get back into the discussions of "how important are high school stats"? and I say they are unimportant --- College coaches and professional scouts do not use stats to evaluate a player's TOOLS.

It alsmost seems as if you want to put a note beside a stolen base that says *not the catcher's fault, the pitch was a curveball in the dirt?

quote:
Other positions have measures that are pretty darn objective and meaningful.


Rob Kremer,
Would you explain what those "meaningful measuments" are? The only statistical defensive measurements made on position players are errors, putouts, and assist; all of which are also applied to catchers.
Fungo
quote:
It alsmost seems as if you want to put a note beside a stolen base that says *not the catcher's fault, the pitch was a curveball in the dirt?


Not sure why you insist on trying to portray me that way, but whatever.

As for the more meaningful measurements for the other positions - I think fielding percentage (which basically covers the three you list) is both accurate and meaningful since it involves many chances during the course of a year.

And for pitching, there are a slew of stats that give a pretty good picture of effectiveness.
Rob Kremer, I apologize. Maybe I'm trying to portrait you that way because that is the way I am and most parents are --- (deep inside). Big Grin
Last evening I was listening to my son's game (he's catching). The announce says: The runner goes, the throw is right on the money, in time, and he guns the runner down---- wait folks, the ball comes loose"! Stolen base. Actually it should have been caught stealing with an error on the SS but it showed in the stats as SB. As a dad I don’t feel as if that’s fair. But knowing baseball as I do I know it is fair. --- BUT-- This has happened twice in the last two days. But it's still fair.
I've been the parent of a pre-high school player, a high school player, a college player, and now a pro player. I know the feelings of frustrations I’ve felt and the perspective I was forced to view the game. No matter where I looked it seemed as if everyone and everything is against the player trying to succeed. It's him against a team, or him against a player, him against the game, many times his biggest challenge was himself. But thank goodness after a while you start to hear the words you’re telling your son. “Control the things you can and ignore the things you can’t. This is just a game ---What’s the big deal? It’s nothing more than see the ball hit the ball --- it’s as simple as catch and throw”. I calmly hang up the phone after giving him some encouragment and then I kick the dog! Wink
Fungo
quote:
Originally posted by Fungo:

I've been the parent of a pre-high school player, a high school player, a college player, and now a pro player. I know the feelings of frustrations I’ve felt and the perspective I was forced to view the game. No matter where I looked it seemed as if everyone and everything is against the player trying to succeed. It's him against a team, or him against a player, him against the game, many times his biggest challenge was himself. But thank goodness after a while you start to hear the words you’re telling your son. “Control the things you can and ignore the things you can’t. This is just a game ---What’s the big deal? It’s nothing more than see the ball hit the ball --- it’s as simple as catch and throw”. I calmly hang up the phone after giving him some encouragment and then I kick the dog! Wink
Fungo


Best post I have ever read on this site.
Simple - to the point - and as true as it can get IMO.

Period.

Fungo - you da man.

clap
Rob, I'm probably the one that started all this - I mentioned my son was throwing guys out at a clip of 70 plus percent and in truth he has been. He is at the JV level and most of the pitchers are fastball pitchers and my son calls the whole game including a move to 1st. I think those two factors help keep the runners close.

Also, it seems many of the opposing coaches try to steal a lot and actually hurt the runners chances based on that. At the varsity level, it seems coaches are more deliberate on the steal which to me would drive their stolen base average up. So as Fungo says, so many things go into the SB average with much of it outside the catcher’s control.

I do like the idea though of perfect throw, in time, dropped by infielder as an error to the infielder - when I own the world I will make that change

PS: Last night our pitcher was a junk ball pitcher and my son was 0 for 4 in put outs – oh well.
I probably titled my post wrong, because as I look back at it, it isn't really CS% I was thinking about. The question I was trying to address was:

When I am watching my son play games and we discuss the game afterwards, how do we evaluate how well he caught?

We certainly discuss SBA's and CS's. But we both know what Fungo says is true - so many times a SB isn't really a catcher issue.

So I was trying to ask how do other folks evaluate how well a catcher catches and throws?

I've started to pay attention to bases given up without the ball being put in play by the batter. (I don't track them as in keeping a spreadsheet or anything, I just count them each game and talk with Jeff afterward.)

There are three basic ways for a runner to advance on a pitcher-catcher exchange: PB, SB and WP. (Ignore balks).

Clearly, the catcher isn't at fault for WP's, but one catcher might not be able to get to some pitches that end up being scored as WP's, and another catcher might. So as a coach, I'd like to know which kid gets to the ball better.

So it seems to me that bases allowed is a pretty good proxy for how well the catcher catches. Especially over a number of games where the truly unreachable WP's will average out one catcher to the next.

Admittedly, this is far less of an issue the higher the level of play. In HS ball from what I have seen, at the varsity level, I would say there's an average of 4-5 bases allowed each game on the combo of SB, WP and PB.

In college and pro, there aren't as many curves and fastballs in the dirt, so the CS% is probably a better measure there than at lower levels.
quote:
In college and pro, there aren't as many curves and fastballs in the dirt, so the CS% is probably a better measure there than at lower levels.


Well....that may depend on where you play. Big Grin I know that I see a lot of balls on the dirt from the pitchers on my son's team.(DI) The biggest difference in stolen bases in college (even more so in pro) ball is the incredible jump in the speed of the average base thief. I know neither my son's or the other catcher's CS% is no where close to 70%. In fact, most of their throw outs have come on pitch outs. I don't see a big difference (as a whole) in pitcher's ability to hold runners at the college level either.

I completely agree with Fungo, "control what you can, ignore the rest". Besides, there are a lot of other things that a good catcher must do other than throw out 2 or 3 of base thieves in a game.
Pawismom,
You’re absolutely right. The catcher’s reputation has a big impact on the stolen bases attempted by the opposing team. While it does show up in the stats as one half of the SB/SBA I’m not sure that the SBA (stolen bases attempted) is indicative of a catcher's ability. For instance: If your pitcher were a LHP (better pick off move to 1b) and had a terrific outing where he only allowed 4 base runners and none attempted a stolen base, the catcher would not garner any recognition for shutting down the running game nor should he. Whereas, if you had a RHP that was allowing lots of base runners and the catcher threw out six of eight base runners the catcher would be recognized for his heroics. But if playing that same team (here is where the catcher’s reputation comes in) and the opposing coach remembered the arm of the catcher and didn’t attempt a stolen base, the catcher would NOT be recognized on the score book as having a major impact in that game but in reality the catcher did impact the outcome with his reputation. The key stat here is the percentage of the runners thrown out the catcher has established in previous games. This percentage creates the perception (reputation) you make reference to. I might add that the reputation of the outfielder’s arm can also have an impact on the outcome of the game by lessening the sac flies and extra bases.
I apologize for the log winded opinion that probabaly left you more confused than ever.
Fungo
Totally agree with this, Pawismom and Fungo.

One of my proudest moments with my son was a game against a steal-crazy Hawaii team in a 14U LL Regional tournament where they had scouted us pretty thoroughly before we played them, and they attempted a grand total of 1 steal (unsuccessfully.)

Every other game I saw them play, they ran with arrogance - stealing 2nd then 3rd on the first pitch, and that kind of thing.

It's kind of like the dog that didn't bark .... it doesn't show up in the stats, but those paying attention know EXACTLY what is going on.
I am a catcher, and I threw out no runners this year on my JV team, a majority of it is my fault, mostly because I don't have a very strong arm which I will be working at long tossing over summer, but a lot of it is the pitchers. Even in the stretch, their windups are extremely long and stretched out. Then, add on top of that, they don't check runners very well at all, and only one of our pitchers can get the ball in at anything over 60 mph, he generally throws 70 ish, but isn't to accurate, but still handleable, but I think that especially in high school ball, a lot of it falls on the pitchers. Not taking blame off myself, I am not that great of a catcher, but I think the coaches, at least mine anyways, should emphasize more on holding the runner on, and getting to home quicker.
Rob, I know you're a baseball guy, and Fungo as always makes good sense. On the evaluation side of things, all aspects of a stolen base or attempt are considered by evaluators, scouts and the like. If a kid behind the plate can get it down there in good time, they will watch him. If a pitcher can keep 'em close, he helps the cause. If pitches are in the dirt, a good score keeper may call a wild pitch with advancement. Evaluators consider many factors and if a player has tools, percentages may not be a factor.
If a catcher throws out 3 runners in a game, even the next game coach will do some evaluating. Were the other teams runners really basestealers, or running on situations? Did the pitcher have a good move and keep them close? What type of runner does the next team coach have? When the next game is played and the catcher is seen in warm-ups, that will be a factor as well.
Originally Posted by pawismom:
I don't know a whole lot about this, however, as my son catches, I am trying to learn. One factor; if a catcher is perceived to be effective in preventing stolen bases won't there be fewer attempts? Is this factored in?

This is spot on.  My son very rarely ever gets an opportunity to throw out a potential base stealer during district play.  I believe that there have been 0 attempts in 3 games, not counting a pitch in the dirt that resulted in a throw out @ 3rd.  

Originally Posted by RedSoxFan21:

Old post, but interested in response to what is an average and a good CS%?  The OP's 70% seems awfully high but he did say that was JV.  What is the right number for higher levels such as HS Varsity, College, and Pro?

I wouldn't know how to find out this data for HS or College, but for MLB the average caught stealing was about 27% in 2012.  Only 10 Catchers who caught 100+ games had CS higher than 30%.

Originally Posted by Smitty28:
Originally Posted by RedSoxFan21:

Old post, but interested in response to what is an average and a good CS%?  The OP's 70% seems awfully high but he did say that was JV.  What is the right number for higher levels such as HS Varsity, College, and Pro?

I wouldn't know how to find out this data for HS or College, but for MLB the average caught stealing was about 27% in 2012.  Only 10 Catchers who caught 100+ games had CS higher than 30%.

 

Stealing at the MLB level is a whole different animal.  

Rob,

 

How the percentages are computed makes all the difference.  If you look in OBR, they don’t give a great deal of guidance for what the defenses are charges with. SBAs and SBs are required for each runner, so its easy to get an SBPct. But there’s no requirement in the rules for how SBAs/SBs should be counted on the defensive side, other than how the put outs are recorded.

 

As a result, statisticians count them in different ways. As Fungo noted, most statisticians will charge the pitcher and catcher with each SBA/SB the opposition gets, no matter who’s responsible.

 

In reality, for pitchers it works because all it means for them is that an SBA/SB took place while they were on the mound. The problems come when people look at catchers. There are few people, including myself, who count SBAs/SBs as taking place on a pitch differently from the ones that take place other ways.

 

FI, if a pitcher throws a pitch and the ball isn’t put in play, and before the next pitch a runner advances safely other than on an error, a wild pitch, or passed ball, there’s a good chance it was a stolen base, and one that should be charged against the catcher.

 

However, there are other SBAs/SBs. FI, when a runner gets picked off but manages to advance without an error, it’s a SBA and SB, and if he gets caught trying to advance, its an SBA with a CS. I agree that the catcher shouldn’t be charged with it one way or the other because its unlikely he’d have anything to do with it, but chances are the statistician isn’t trying to determine if he had anything to do with it or not. The same thing happens with the back end of a double steal. If the catcher tries to get one of the runners and doesn’t, he gets banged for 2 SBAs/SBs.

 

You asked about whether a pitch in the dirt was the cause of the runner advancing. Using OBR, if a pitch touches the dirt in front of the catcher, it can’t be a passed ball, but it can be a wild pitch. It has to do with what the reason was the runner advanced. If it was because of a pitch in the dirt, it shouldn’t be marked as an SBA/SB, but if the runner gets thrown out it goes as an SBA.

 

When people say a HS catcher throws out X% of the runners attempting to steal, more likely than not they’re talking about all SBs divided by all SBAs.

 

You also commented about SBa that really come off the pitcher. Well, getting the ball to the plate quickly is very important, but so is holding the runners close. So if you’re seeing a lot of SBAs/SBs, it could be one of several reasons.

 

You made a comment about a good catcher should block a lot of what otherwise would be WPs, and that’s true. Unfortunately, how would anyone measure that? I track balls and strikes in the dirt and whether they came with a runner on, but I don’t produce a metric that shows it, and I don’t know of anyone who does at the HS level.

 

I’m not sure how you can track how base runners advanced but ignore the reason. Would you mind explaining?

 

You’re correct. Catcher stats are pretty bleak, but the reason is, there’s really no common need for catcher’s numbers.

Would you explain what those "meaningful measuments" are? The only statistical defensive measurements made on position players are errors, putouts, and assist; all of which are also applied to catchers.

I don’t know about Rob, but I track something to try to quantify fielders and how they figure into the defense. “TOUCHES”. In general a touch is when a player has the opportunity to make an error but doesn’t. FI, A line drive up the middle for a single gives the F8 a touch. A pickoff attempt gives the thrower and the receiver a touch. An infield hit the F5 can’t make a play on is a touch. I realize it would be next to impossible to get EVERY possible situation where an error could be made, but I find this one interesting.

 

I also do range factors, but it’s the rare bird in HS who understands Range Factors, and for sure since I never heard of anyone else doing touches, they couldn’t be used either. Double plays are also kept, but again, that doesn’t really tell a lot either.

…Last evening I was listening to my son's game (he's catching). The announce says: The runner goes, the throw is right on the money, in time, and he guns the runner down---- wait folks, the ball comes loose"! Stolen base. Actually it should have been caught stealing with an error on the SS but it showed in the stats as SB. As a dad I don’t feel as if that’s fair. But knowing baseball as I do I know it is fair. --- BUT-- This has happened twice in the last two days. But it's still fair. …

 

Yes, it is “fair” because that’s the way the rules say to score the game. But if you were only listening to the game, why do you think there should have been an error on the play?

Rob,

 

It seems too me the best way to evaluate a catcher is the easiest. Count the number of balls that get past him and divide it by the number of pitches he receives. That would be pitches – Fouls and BIPs. Of course the catcher lucky enough to have the best pitchers will do better, but that’s the way it goes. Since you’re only trying to evaluate the catcher on 1 team, he’ll see the pitchers over and over, so you’d have to break it out by pitcher.

 

I’ve scored for HS teams with great catchers and crappy ones. The great ones all have something in common. They keep the ball from getting past them.

 

I count the number of balls and strikes that hit the dirt, and I don’t see a lot of difference between HS, college, and ML pitchers. There are good and bad at every level.

 

Coachric,

 

Great points. One of the things I haven’t seen mentioned is, as the level of play gets higher, there’s a smaller percentage of players who will even try to steal a base. That’s the reason why SBPcts are generally very high. Our coach is aggressive on the bases and will send almost anyone, and has been doing that rather successfully for over 20 years.

 

One of the things he works on with runners constantly is getting the biggest lead possible. The point isn’t necessarily to get stolen bases, but rather to disrupt the pitcher because the more he’s focused on the runners, the less he’s focused on the hitters, and that’s the guy who can do the real damage.

 

That’s why I started tracking runner disruptions a few years back, and producing the following metric. http://www.infosports.com/scor.../images/disrupt1.pdf  I wasn’t prepared for how rapidly it became a “must have” metric for the coaching staff and the parents.

I thought that I read in the scorekeeping forum that if the throw is in time but the IF messes up, it is scored as CS with an error on the IF. My memory could be playing tricks on me, though.

 

I have seen a coach tell the team (and hence unofficial) scorekeeper to score is as such.

I use the gamechanger app for high school games, it forces you to advance runners based on caught steal, wild pitch or passed ball.  It's one of 3.  A wild pitch is defined as in the dirt or catcher must come out of crouch.  Passed ball - catcher should have caught but didn't.  The app is great and you can extrapolate data from that regarding catcher performance.  A true stolen base is if the catcher catches and beats the runner with the throw.  What I haven't figured out yet, a remaining choice is defensive indifference, as a means to base advancing.  I have no idea what that is.  Runners on first and third, no outs, catcher doesn't attempt to throw out runner to 2nd?

 

Originally Posted by BaseballMom3Boys:

I use the gamechanger app for high school games, it forces you to advance runners based on caught steal, wild pitch or passed ball.  It's one of 3.  A wild pitch is defined as in the dirt or catcher must come out of crouch.  Passed ball - catcher should have caught but didn't.  The app is great and you can extrapolate data from that regarding catcher performance.  A true stolen base is if the catcher catches and beats the runner with the throw.  What I haven't figured out yet, a remaining choice is defensive indifference, as a means to base advancing.  I have no idea what that is.  Runners on first and third, no outs, catcher doesn't attempt to throw out runner to 2nd?

 

When I was evaluating scoring apps, being forced to choose between only those choices eventually became one of the reasons I chose against GC.

 

Where did you get that definition of a wild pitch?

 

A true SB is exactly what OBR says it is.

 

The next time you get the chance, look in OBR for indifference. Look at the definition of “Fielder’s Choice” in 2.00, and in 10.07(g) and its comment. Your example is in that comment.

Originally Posted by BaseballMom3Boys:

...What I haven't figured out yet, a remaining choice is defensive indifference, as a means to base advancing.  I have no idea what that is.  Runners on first and third, no outs, catcher doesn't attempt to throw out runner to 2nd?

 

Yes, and another example, I believe, would be with a runner at first and defensive team has big lead and two outs late in the game.  They don't hold the runner closely and let him take second if he chooses.  They are trading the base for better odds at getting the out on a ball in play.

Originally Posted by twotex:

I thought that I read in the scorekeeping forum that if the throw is in time but the IF messes up, it is scored as CS with an error on the IF. My memory could be playing tricks on me, though.

 

There are several cases where something is credited even though it didn’t happen, so you’re memory isn’t playing tricks on you at all.

 

I have seen a coach tell the team (and hence unofficial) scorekeeper to score is as such.

 

What a lot of people don’t realize is, there are “official” stats that should be kept in accordance with the rules, and “coach’s” stats that mean something to him. The problems happen when they’re mixed up and one taken for the other.

 

I’ve always told coaches I score for that I refuse to mark something incorrectly to help them, but will gladly track anything for them according to the rules they establish. When I get asked to do that, its almost always mental errors, and those can be offensive and defensive. But the trick is, I keep them completely separate.

Originally Posted by cabbagedad:

Yes, and another example, I believe, would be with a runner at first and defensive team has big lead and two outs late in the game.  They don't hold the runner closely and let him take second if he chooses.  They are trading the base for better odds at getting the out on a ball in play.

 

Actually, a catcher not attempting to throw out a base runner may or may not be defensive interference.

 

Your example is pretty much explained in the rules.

Catcherz_Dad posted:
Originally Posted by Smitty28:
Originally Posted by RedSoxFan21:

Old post, but interested in response to what is an average and a good CS%?  The OP's 70% seems awfully high but he did say that was JV.  What is the right number for higher levels such as HS Varsity, College, and Pro?

I wouldn't know how to find out this data for HS or College, but for MLB the average caught stealing was about 27% in 2012.  Only 10 Catchers who caught 100+ games had CS higher than 30%.

 

Stealing at the MLB level is a whole different animal.  

Thank you so much for the post.  I've been looking for this info.  Where did you find it?   I would love to know if there's more up dated info now.  Thanks again!

Stats4Gnats posted:

Coachric,

 

Great points. One of the things I haven’t seen mentioned is, as the level of play gets higher, there’s a smaller percentage of players who will even try to steal a base. That’s the reason why SBPcts are generally very high. Our coach is aggressive on the bases and will send almost anyone, and has been doing that rather successfully for over 20 years.

 

One of the things he works on with runners constantly is getting the biggest lead possible. The point isn’t necessarily to get stolen bases, but rather to disrupt the pitcher because the more he’s focused on the runners, the less he’s focused on the hitters, and that’s the guy who can do the real damage.

 

That’s why I started tracking runner disruptions a few years back, and producing the following metric. http://www.infosports.com/scor.../images/disrupt1.pdf  I wasn’t prepared for how rapidly it became a “must have” metric for the coaching staff and the parents.

When I plug that link in, it says not found.  I would be interested in seeing it.

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