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Pitch Calling

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Sometimes when I get to playing with spreadsheets, my interest is piqued by a particular question and I take on a project without really knowing where it's going. This is one such project. A few days ago, when I was working with the Felix data, I found myself wondering "how did he pitch with different guys behind the plate?" Not so much in terms of results, but in terms of pitch sequencing. Who was calling what pitches in what amounts? To satiate my curiosity, I went to Baseball-Reference, figured out who was behind the plate for each of Felix's starts, put all the numbers together, and one thing led to another and now I'm here with a whole bunch of numbers for six different starters and at this point I'm not really sure what they mean. So I'm going to dump them on you.

I think the tables are pretty easy to understand. For each pitcher, I've broken the numbers up by catcher and by batter handedness. I'm sorry for what this post may do to your eyes.

n FA% CH% CU% SL%
FELIX Righties Burke 138 71% 7% 5% 17%
Clement 177 64% 11% 6% 19%
Johjima 834 70% 8% 7% 16%
Johnson 108 70% 5% 4% 21%
Lefties Burke 155 60% 21% 8% 11%
Clement 264 66% 17% 9% 7%
Johjima 1318 62% 20% 10% 8%
Johnson 81 65% 10% 16% 9%

 

n FA% CH% SL%
SILVA Righties Burke 118 74% 14% 12%
Clement 356 66% 15% 19%
Johjima 583 73% 11% 15%
Lefties Burke 109 64% 31% 5%
Clement 480 70% 24% 6%
Johjima 781 68% 29% 4%

 

n FA% CH% CU%
BEDARD Righties Burke 731 63% 4% 34%
Clement 94 70% 0% 30%
Johjima 162 60% 1% 39%
Lefties Burke 219 73% 0% 26%
Clement 35 69% 0% 31%
Johjima 102 64% 4% 32%

 

n FA% CH% CU% SL%
WASHBURN Righties Burke 227 74% 8% 17% 0%
Clement 375 66% 25% 9% 1%
Johjima 1282 73% 19% 7% 1%
Lefties Burke 38 63% 3% 3% 32%
Clement 112 66% 1% 4% 29%
Johjima 539 58% 3% 7% 32%

 

n FA% FC% SL% CU% CH/SF%
BATISTA Righties Burke 19 58% 32% 5% 5% 0%
Clement 107 64% 27% 1% 7% 1%
Johjima 570 52% 36% 4% 8% 0%
Lefties Burke 76 64% 33% 0% 1% 1%
Clement 145 58% 34% 0% 1% 8%
Johjima 760 54% 36% 1% 2% 8%

 

n FA% CH% CU% SL%
RRS Righties Clement 180 63% 18% 13% 7%
Johjima 518 52% 27% 17% 3%
Johnson 151 56% 19% 23% 2%
Lefties Clement 75 68% 9% 15% 8%
Johjima 199 43% 2% 19% 36%
Johnson 54 57% 4% 17% 22%

I only looked at starts, so none of RRS, Washburn, or Batista's relief appearances are taken into consideration. Also understand that there's a bit of an error whenever you're dealing with PITCHf/x in this sort of way, as nobody can look at the numbers and identify pitches with 100% accuracy. Washburn and Batista in particular posed a challenge, as Washburn apparently has more than one pitch after all and Batista was all over the place. Bedard and Washburn each threw cutters, but I didn't bother trying to isolate them like I did for Batista because (A) that's hard, and (B) Batista used his cutter far more than anybody else. Finally, note that I grouped Batista's changeup and splitter together because sweet Jesus you try to tell them apart

So with that out of the way, bam, there you go. Data. I don't even know where to begin, and with some of the sample sizes, I'm not sure it's worth beginning. It's interesting to see how each entry is a little different from the others in each group - that catchers may indeed have their own similar but distinct game plans for every arm on the staff - but honestly, this isn't a project that I thought would lead anywhere amazing on its own. I just did it to do it, because as far as I know, nobody else has done this before, and if you want to gain an understanding of how pitch-calling differs from one catcher to the next - I mean a real understanding - I figure this is where you have to start. Any other approach would be inadequate.