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Mid-day talker: Twins catchers worst in MLB at framing pitches in 2014

Posted by: Michael Rand under Professional baseball, Twins fans Updated: April 18, 2014 - 12:46 PM

The Twins are above .500 through 15 games. That's good! They are getting a ton of unexpected contributions on offense (Chris Colabello and Jason Kubel leading that charge), their starting pitching has been at least contributing in a lot of games lately and they have been aggressive on the bases in key situations.

But despite dispatching Ryan Doumit in the offseason, who was one of the worst pitch-framers in MLB from 2008-2013, the Twins are still lagging seriously behind in that department.

In fact, according to Baseball Prospectus, they are dead last (H/T Jeremy Nygaard from Twins Daily for the link on Twitter).

BP tracks this with what it calls a "Regressed Probabilistic Model" of framing (RPM for short). In brief, RPM works by calculating the combined probability (and associated run value) that each pitch will be called a strike; summing those probabilities (and run values) across opportunities; attributing those values to a player (catcher or pitcher); and regressing "career" values to the mean.

So far this season, Twins catchers -- primarily Kurt Suzuki -- are the worst in MLB at essentially stealing strikes ... or, if you prefer, getting borderline pitches called strikes instead of balls. The calculations from BP say this has cost the Twins at least four runs already this year.

The Yankees, by contrast, are at the top of the food chain when it comes to gaining "extra" strikes on borderline calls. That has gained the Yankees more than six runs, per the site.

That sounds like a lot of runs so early in the season, but it is conceivable when you think about it. Let's say a 2-1 borderline pitch is called a ball instead of a strike. Using the larger sample size of 2013, Twins pitchers had a whopping 1.093 OPS against them after a count went to 3-1. But they had an OPS of just .659 against them after a count went to 2-2. Not every borderline call matters. But we can see how enough of them matter to add up to a significant number of runs.

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