A couple of weeks late is better than never, right? I pulled the data on June 1st and meant to write this article but I got busy and then some whole Is It a Perfect Game Or Not thing sort of happened and I figured I'd hold off on that.
So here I am, bringing you the complete catcher rankings, updated through May 31st.
Full list after the jump.
You know we love our bullet points!
- We'll hit up the Tigers catchers first. I said in the April rankings about Laird's defense:
Laird's dragged down by his wild pitch/passed ball defense. He's been behind the plate for 9 wild pitches and 1 passed ball thus far. I would expect that to start to slow down as he's never been this bad before in this aspect of catching. Also: expect his caught stealing rate to rise. He sits at 22% (4-for-18) and the league caught stealing percentage is 20%.
- Can I claim a bit of a victory here? Since starting 4-for-18, Larid has gunned down 3 of the last 4 would-be basestealers to sit at 7-for-22 which is finally above-average. What? So the league average is 23% and Laird's at 24%. Above-average is above-average! He can't hit water if he fell out of a boat this year, so can we at least give him some love on this?
- That said, Larid has been the 29th best catcher in the major leagues this year. Is it sad that I'm trying to even remotely rationalize the fact that Laird has 79 PA's since the start of May to Alex Avila's 72?
- Speaking of The Golden Child, Avila's fallen in the rankings. From 1.1 runs and 11th best in the majors to -0.9 runs and 61st best. So, maybe the catcher usage isn't too awful by Leyland, but Avila looks like he gets an 11 AM shadow and must shave every time he eats a meal, so he wins by default.
- By the by, Avila's fallen because he's been behind the dish for 8 wild pitches and he's committed a fielding error in his last 419 PA's in the crouch.
- Moving on to the rest of the league, Yadier Molina keeps being a beast. He's been behind the plate for 867 PA's in May and picked up 4.2 runs in that time frame -- or about a run saved every 200 plate appearances behind home.
- Miguel Olivo's caught stealing numbers are regressing, as he's at 50% (13-for-26) which is down from his 60% April.
- Carlos Ruiz and Yadier Molina lead the majors at 2.2 runs saved in the wild pitch/passed balls category. The worst is Arizona's Jon Hester who sits at -2.8 runs saved in the category in just 406 PA's behind home plate. That is impressive. For the fans out there: Rob Johnson is second at -2 runs saved in WP/PB's.
- The aforementioned Miguel Olivo is still leading in caught stealing runs at 4.4 runs saved while the also aforementioned Yadier Molina is sitting at 3.9 runs saved through the end of May. Ryan Doumit is the worst at -5 runs saved. He's thrown out 2 of 43 would-be base stealers this year.
- RYAN DOUMIT HAS THROWN OUT 2 RUNNERS OUT OF 43 OPPORTUNITIES. That needed it's own bullet point.
- Bengie Molina (-3.4) and Victor Martinez (-3.1) are the only other catchers costing their teams 3 or more runs in the caught stealing category.
The Do Everything Well Duo
There are only two catchers thus far to be behind the dish for at least 700 PA's and still be positive in the four components: Caught Stealing Runs (CSRns), Wild Pitches/Passed Balls (WP/PBRns), Fielding Errors (FERns) and Throwing Errors (TERns) and they are Humberto Quintero of the Houston Astros and Ivan Rodriguez of the Washington Nationals. I think we can attribute Pudge being positive in all categories to Stephen Strasburg, though. He's taught him more about catching in the majors in the last ten days than Pudge has ever learned. True story.
Quintero: 2.0 CSRns, 1.7 WP/PBRns, 0.4 FERns and 0.6 TERns
Pudge: 0.4 CSRns, 0.9 WP/PBRns, 0.4 FERns, 0.2 TERns
The What Do We Have To Do To Get Someone Good Behind The Plate Guy
Say hello to Mr. Mike Napoli. I know there have been questions as to why Napoli hasn't been utilized more for his bat, but my guess is Mike Scioscia likes defense-first catchers given that was his M.O. when he played.
Napoli: -0.6 CSRns, -1.7 WP/PBRns, -0.3 FERns, -0.7 TERns
And one of my favorite things to look at: Who is getting run on the most?
Of players with at least 700 PA's behind the dish, we get...
SBA is the number of stolen bases attempted when given the opportunity. I get this by tracking stolen base opportunities which are a runner on 1st or 2nd with the next base open. Just divide stolen bases attempted by stolen base opportunities, and you get the SBA percentage above.
Why do people keep running on Gerald Laird? He's basically league average this year, but you'd assume that his absurd 40% caught stealing rate last year would deter more managers. But, we quantitatively see what we witness when watching games: If Victor Martinez, Mike Napoli, or Jorge Posada are behind the plate, there should be a track meet on the base paths.
You can download the spreadsheet which has May data here. Just open the link and go File -> Download As -> your preferred file type.