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How much does playing catcher suppress a player's offense?

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  • How much does playing catcher suppress a player's offense?

    Many people, myself included, have argued that Mike Piazza would have even better numbers then he currently has if he played a position like 1B his entire career. But how much of a difference does it really make? If he played 1B his whole career, does his career numbers look more like Manny Ramirez's numbers than what it does now? He's not the only example, this goes for all catchers.
    Last edited by fenrir; 05-18-2012, 08:05 AM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by fenrir View Post
    Many people, myself included, have argued that Mike Piazza would have even better numbers then he currently has if he played a position like 1B his entire career. But how much of a difference does it really make? If he played 1B his whole career, does he career numbers look more like Manny Ramirez's numbers than what it does now? He's not the only example, this goes for all catchers.
    Most of the surpression happens because of games played.

    A catcher will play at least 30 games less than a field player usually more. I think this is a thing which is unfair against catchers in WAR. WAR rightfully does reward playing time (you only produce when you are on the field) but a catcher just cannot play as much.

    thus I think that WAR should be normalized to about 130 games for catchers (maybe just consider caught games and then calculate the extra WAR at other positions seperately so that the catcher doesn't get overly rewarded for the extra games). in pitching WAR you also don't punish a starter for not pitching 162 games the same should be for a catcher.

    the best catchers have about 1/3rd less WAR than players at any other position. this seems to be about the difference in games played. While I don't believe that talent is distributed equally (there doesn't have to be a catching barry bonds or babe ruth) that kind of difference IMO is too big.
    I now have my own non commercial blog about training for batspeed and power using my training experience in baseball and track and field.

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    • #3
      People asked this question all the time regarding Piazza, especially in 2001 when his numbers took a hit.

      http://articles.nydailynews.com/2001...at-feels-thumb

      My view? Piazza might have put up better stats if he was a 1B, but being a catcher made him more valuable.

      By having him as a catcher, the Mets were able to also have Olerud in the 1999 lineup and Zeile in the 2000 lineup; and the Dodgers were able to have Eric Karros on those 1990s teams.

      His teams were better off with him as catcher.

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      • #4
        --They play less games and their hitting and running is affected. This is true both within seasons and for career length. Its a double whammy that absolutely needs to be accounted for when comparing them to players from other positions or you'd come to the conclusion that no catchers have even been amoung the inner circle greats of the game. How much to adjust is a much more difficult question. Normalizing to 130 games as suggested above would deal with the fewer games issue, but not the suppression of stats caused by the phyical - and mental - grind of catching.
        --Alot of people around here say Piazza doesn't deserve much of a catcher bump because he wasn't a good defensive catcher. I think that is really off base. As mentioned above Piazza's being willing and able to play behind the plate allowed his teams to play another good hitter at first instead of a very likley bad one at catcher (only a handfull of catchers each season manage to hit like an average 1B - most are 30-40 OPS+ points behind that). I do think Piazza's numbers would have gone up had he been converted to 1B or LF or DH early, but not nearly enough to counterblance the loss his teams would have suffered by playing a different catcher instead of a different hitter.

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        • #5
          I would think the general wear and tear from crouching in that gear for nine innings, foul tips etc. must put one in a less than optimal condition compared to say a DH, 1B or OF.

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          • #6
            I think you could easily mark Piazza down for 500 HR and 2500 hits if he played 1B, barring some fluky defensive play that would've hurt him.

            I just noticed that Piazza is credited with 1.3 career defensive WAR?!? How?
            Last edited by J W; 05-17-2012, 08:27 AM.
            http://gifrific.com/wp-content/uploa...-showalter.gif

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            • #7
              Not sure how you would figure it out, but it would seem likely that the numbers would rise. But playing catcher, and being able to hit, too, is so rare, it might add nearly 50% to your value. Don't think the number for offense would rise by that much, but being able to play the position, as others have said, and allow another good hitter to play first base, is what goes a long way to making a Piazza, Bench, or Berra very valuable.
              http://baseballevaluation.com

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              • #8
                Originally posted by J W View Post
                I think you could easily mark Piazza down for 500 HR and 2500 hits if he played 1B, barring some fluky defensive play that would've hurt him.

                I just noticed that Piazza is credited with 1.3 career defensive WAR?!? How?
                B-ref has a new dWAR that now includes positional adjustment. the old dWAR had no positional adjustment (just the offensive side-which I think is the better way to do it). with the old dWAR I think he was -8.they say only his throwing was bad but overall he was still below average although not as bad a some say.
                I now have my own non commercial blog about training for batspeed and power using my training experience in baseball and track and field.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by dominik View Post
                  Most of the surpression happens because of games played.

                  A catcher will play at least 30 games less than a field player usually more. I think this is a thing which is unfair against catchers in WAR. WAR rightfully does reward playing time (you only produce when you are on the field) but a catcher just cannot play as much.
                  Also if a catcher goes out with an injury then a team will have to have not just a replacement level backup, but a sub-replacement level reserve who will certainly catch at least some of those games. And catchers have to be ready to put on the gear even on a day off. If you set the replacment level for a catcher between a first level replacment and a replacement replacement level, catchers would gain about 1 war per 162 games. Also catchers get no credit defensively for 95% of the things that they do like calling the game.

                  A point about playing time and career length is that if at a given position like first base a team has a player play 95% of the teams games for 15 years, and if a catcher on average only plays 75% for 12 years, then the team is more likely to have replacement level and therefore sub replacement level players at that position over a given time period.
                  Last edited by brett; 05-18-2012, 09:44 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Think about the greatest catchers in baseball history and look at their career numbers and games played. That pretty much tells you how much they were affected by playing catcher. It's tough position to play.
                    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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                    • #11
                      I have always found it kind of odd that there haven't been many great hitting catchers. It's not a position like shortstop where you need a lot of mobility. Usually the catcher is a big guy.

                      I think their offense is affected twofold. Their counting stats are affected because they cannot play as much. I also think they are more prone to injuries, especially small nagging ones that can affect performance a small but noticeable amount.

                      I think that if Piazza was a first baseman or DH, his first 10 or 11 seasons would match Pujols' pretty well. He was an old rookie, so he probably would have started to decline at that point anyway.
                      Last edited by willshad; 05-18-2012, 11:17 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
                        Think about the greatest catchers in baseball history and look at their career numbers and games played. That pretty much tells you how much they were affected by playing catcher. It's tough position to play.
                        How much does being a full time DH augment/increase offensive production?

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                        • #13
                          I think staying crouched down over such a long overhaul will gradually wear out the knees. Just ask Darren Daulton, who's had something like seven knee surgeries. Plus these guys tend to take pretty good hits, like Buster Posey had last year and Carlos Santana from the year before--both of whom were put out of the game for the remainder of the season.
                          "Age is a question of mind over matter--if you don't mind, it doesn't matter."
                          -Satchel Paige

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by rsuriyop View Post
                            I think staying crouched down over such a long overhaul will gradually wear out the knees. Just ask Darren Daulton, who's had something like seven knee surgeries. Plus these guys tend to take pretty good hits, like Buster Posey had last year and Carlos Santana from the year before--both of whom were put out of the game for the remainder of the season.
                            I also think it robs you speed and power during the game because it affects the energ level. just like you wouldn't throw as hard of a punch directly after running a mile at full speed.
                            I now have my own non commercial blog about training for batspeed and power using my training experience in baseball and track and field.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by fenrir View Post
                              Many people, myself included, have argued that Mike Piazza would have even better numbers then he currently has if he played a position like 1B his entire career. But how much of a difference does it really make? If he played 1B his whole career, does his career numbers look more like Manny Ramirez's numbers than what it does now? He's not the only example, this goes for all catchers.
                              I haven't seen it actually calculated (the effect), but there was a lot of similar discussion in a thread relating to Ruth and pitching. One example only, of course, and it did not gain universal acceptance (or adulation either!), but I came up with it costing him around 40-60 OPS+ by pitching.

                              My guess is that catching has to be significant as well. I wouldn't be surprised if it was similar to pitchers. While pitching is possibly more exhausting in the one game, catching is more pervasive and more painful over a full season.

                              I absolutely believe cathers would be much more productive as hitters if they were not catchers.
                              "It's better to look good, than be good."

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