Pitch Framing Data Underlines Mets Pitching And Catching Woes

Back on April 11th, which was the last day the Mets would have either Travis d’Arnaud or Kevin Plawecki, the Mets would beat the Miami Marlins to improve to a National League best 10-1. At that time, one of the driving forces for the Mets incredible start was their pitching.

Over the Mets first 11 games, the Mets pitching staff had a 2.47 ERA. Robert Gsellman was quickly becoming a dominant weapon, and Seth Lugo was drawing early season comparisons to Andrew Miller.

In that fateful game, Tayron Guerrero broke Plawecki’s hand. Unsurprisingly, d’Arnaud was already on the disabled list with a torn UCL requiring season ending Tommy John surgery.

In the ensuing 21 games with Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido behind the plate, the Mets have gone 7-14. In that time, one of the main culprits has been how poorly the Mets pitching staff has performed. In fact, the Mets team ERA has ballooned from 2.47 to 4.21. The once dominant bullpen now has a 3.89 ERA.

There are many possible causes for this. Certainly, you could expect some regression to the mean after a fast start. Moreover, there is something to be said about how Mickey Callaway has used his bullpen. There are many reasons you can cite, but one which should not be overlooked is pitch framing, especially with the drop-off we have seen since the injuries. Here are the catchers’ respective RAAs:

d’Arnaud 2.0
Nido 0.9
Plawecki -0.4
Lobaton -1.3

Really, Lobaton is the worst of the group, and yet, somehow, in the absence of Plawecki and d’Arnaud, he is getting the bulk of the playing time. You could almost understand it if he was hitting, but Lobaton is hitting .163/.265/.256, and no, there’s not much upside with him as he is coming off a .170/.248/.277 year and is a .216/.294/.321 hitter.

Whatever it is too, Lobaton is just not working well with this Mets pitching staff. Remember, he was the catcher when the Mets bullpen completely collapsed against the Washington Nationals. During his time, we have seen the ERAs of almost every Mets pitcher rise.

For example, Steven Matz struggled mightily in his three starts with Lobaton. In those three starts, Matz averaged 4.0 innings per start, had a 6.39 ERA, and opposing batters hit .239/.333/.478 off of him. Short sample size for sure, and it may be a coincidence Matz had his best start since July of last year with Nido behind the plate.

It could also be the result of pitch framing. Certainly, the ability to get the extra strike and/or make sure a strike is called a strike is of vital importance. It is the difference between getting ahead in the count to set the batter up to make an out and making sure you get your pitches more over the plate so you don’t walk batters. The more you have to pitch over the plate, the worse a pitcher is going to fare.

Ultimately, with Lobaton behind the plate, nearly all of the Mets pitchers are struggling. There are many reasons why with his pitch framing chief among them. Until Plawecki is ready to return, at a minimum, Nido has to become the primary catcher. Ideally, Sandy Alderson is trying to make a move for a catcher even if if means grabbing Miguel Montero off the scrap heap.

No matter what, the only thing that is clear is Lobaton cannot be the starting catcher anymore.

13 thoughts on “Pitch Framing Data Underlines Mets Pitching And Catching Woes”

  1. OldBackstop says:

    “It could also be the result of pitch framing. Certainly, the ability to get the extra strike and/or make sure a strike is called a strike is of vital importance. ”

    You were doing so well. Dude, you are being roundly roasted on Bill James Online for trying to discern anything from the entrails of an obsolete stat in a tiny sample of games. If you want to believe in Framing Runs Above Average, why were you railing against Realmuto? He was one of the top guys in the league last year in that “stat.”.

    Even on a huge sample, they simply don’t apply in 2018 anymore. See Bruce’s attack on the ump a few weeks ago. They are all accountable now, and you will face the ump community rage if you keep trying to fool them. See Lucrpy….perennial first to perennial worst. Framing stats have disintegrated to random wild chaos.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Please show me where I am getting roasted on Bill James Online.

      Let me guess, you won’t provide that link either.

      1. OldBackstop says:

        Your Realmuto bashing spurred a long discussion entitled “Here is your brain on framing”. Look it up.

        Bill refuses to use “framing” says he doesn’t understand the logic, and has agreed that whatever might have been there was wiped out by umpire oversight.

        The only people talking framing are the guys trying to sell it and the guys who haven’t looked at how truly random the results are.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          So some guy named Bill has an unsubstantiated theory and that’s a refutation?

          Of course it isn’t.

          Unless you have a link to provide to show pitching framing isn’t a quantifiable stat, admit I’m right and move along.

          1. OldBackstop says:

            Bill James?

          2. metsdaddy says:

            I don’t know. I wasn’t the one who raised Bill in the discussion

    2. metsdaddy says:

      Also, Realmuto has been bottom four each of the past few seasonab

  2. OldBackstop says:

    from mlbtraderumors on Realmuto:

    “….in the framing department…..StatCorner has rated Realmuto as one of the worst catchers in the game at winning strikes for his pitchers. Baseball Prospectus, meanwhile, has identified significant improvement over the years and graded Realmuto quite well in this area last year. Without a clear consensus in the metrics, it’s tough to say anything conclusively,”

    Sounds like a real quotable stat.

    Do you realize how “framing” stats are done? It’s all opinions, like a sausage factory will bllshtt thrown in.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Yeah, no. Nice try though.

      1. OldBackstop says:

        Fine. Just supply whatever framing stat provider are you quoting from now on?

        If you quote Macy’s saying a guy is a “B”, Gimbels probably has him rated a “D”. Any they were reversed last year.

        So quote Stat Corner, and I’ll counter with Baseball Prospectus, and eventually maybe you’ll realize they are playing dice.

        As I said in the Bill James site, you are a pretty good baseball guy outside of comparing tiny samples of a fictional stat to decide things like “Realmuto would be bad” for the Mets.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          You’ve provided no links whatsoever to substantiate your theories.

  3. Old Backstop says:

    Here is the link showing wildly disparate framing stats among different stat providers:

    1. metsdaddy says:

      There are inherent problems with the BP method.

      Most notably, it weighs each pitch differently. Essentially, it attempts to move the concept of pitch framing as a definable skill to more of a value added type of process.

      Put in another context, when calculating something like OBP, it treats say drawing a walk on 3-2 pitch as more valuable than drawing a walk on 3- 0 pitch.

      Drawing a walk and getting on base is a skill. Inherent in that skill is recognizing balls and strikes on the fourth ball but the other three as well.

      As a catcher, pitch framing is the skill, and you’re not changing how you frame a 1-0 pitch as opposed to a 3-2 pitch. Trying to define it as such is not in congruence with the actual skill that is being measured.

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