Yesterday, Baseball Prospectus released a study with a very intense look at quantifying catcher blocking and pitch framing. The study showed that Russell Martin’s framing and blocking last year was with 2.4 wins, while Chris Stewart’s work with the Yankees was worth 1.9 wins. I asked Clint Hurdle about the idea of finding value behind framing and blocking after yesterday’s game to get his input on the study.
“I know our industry is continuing to try and find a way to put value on skills,” Hurdle said. “Measurable value on a lot of things. And there is value to a catcher’s ability to not just frame, but to get strikes, to block well, to keep the other team from [stealing bases]. It’s something that we’ve looked in to as an organization to have our own gauge of measurability. It’s all part of the growing technology that’s available.”
One interesting thing Hurdle brought up was an area we haven’t quantified yet.
“The thing they aren’t able to quantify is the ability to call pitches,” Hurdle said. “That will probably be next.”
That would probably be a hard thing to quantify, since it involves knowing what is going through the catcher’s mind (impossible) or speculating (inaccurate). It is a desired skill, and one that the Pirates push with their minor league catchers.
Hurdle used to be a catcher, and gave his own personal experiences with framing pitches and the skill behind that.
“I didn’t have good hands. I had to work at it,” Hurdle said. “It wasn’t something I was really, really good at. Then you see other guys go back there and they make everything look like a strike because of the calmness of the body and the very loose, but secure wrist.”