Friday, April 11, 2014

Yankees Leading The Early Charge In Pitch Framing

A few days ago, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs posted a very cool piece analyzing each team's early pitch framing success.  Using an existing pitch framing model, he tracked all called pitches for each MLB team to determine how many more or less called strikes they were getting compared to the expected average.  The Yankees topped the list with +25 called strikes, 3 more than the next closest team and 9 more than the 3rd highest team, each of whom had a larger called pitch sample size than the Yankees.

There are plenty of disclaimers that have to be put on this.  Pitch framing is still a relatively new method of analysis and there are a lot of things that aren't factored into Sullivan's study, namely individual differences in strike zones by umpire and the effect that pitchers' command has on final pitch location and the catchers' ability to frame.  Based on those 2 factors, I'd say it's a little premature to start assigning run values to each additional called strike like Sullivan has, but at a high level this study shows that there is value in above-average pitch framing and speaks to the 2-sided skill set it takes to be an above-average team in that department.  Both Francisco Cervelli and Brian McCann rate as above-average framers, McCann decidedly so, and the Yankee pitching staff has a 6.1% BB rate, tied for 4th best in MLB.

When you're commanding the ball in or near the strike zone and have good receivers and framers behind the plate, you should have a very good frame rate like the Yankees do.  Over the course of a season, every additional called strike will add up to something positive for the Yankees in terms of win expectancy and that's always a good thing.

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