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Ryan Doumit and Quick Catcher Evaluation

I was investigating Ryan Doumit before the rumor went viral and before it then got stepped on and a centerpiece of that revolved around Doumit as a catcher. I know not many foresee or advocated Doumit as a fulltime catcher in 2012 or beyond, but I wanted more than taking that on other people's word and some did suggest that he could steal some starts away from Miguel Olivo. For someone who seemed to have a consensus reputation that he shouldn't be catching, he sure spent a lot of his time in Pittsburgh catching. That prompted me to examine as best as I could, in a quickish manner, whether his grading as a poor receiver is justified. In Doumit's case, I believe it is and I decided to share how I came to that conclusion.

I have long separated catching defensive duties into four realms. I describe in that linked piece the general methodologies that I like for each measurement. I decided to get a little more specific here and run through a quick evaluation of both Doumit and Olivo.

In the catching pitches department, I do not differentiate between passed balls and wild pitches. I find official scorers to be too untrustworthy to deal only with passed balls. That introduces some pitching staff bias into the mix and the best way to figure this out would be to look at pitch f/x data, but that requires time and access to the data. I have the latter, but not everyone does so as an approximation, you can simply use the rate of passed balls and wild pitches for the catcher. Here is that in a tidy table.

Doumit Olivo League
WP+PB (per 1,000IP) 48 67 44
Run Value (-.27 per) -13.0 -18.1 -11.9
Data covering 2009-11

Doumit grades out at negligibly (-1) below average and Olivo is unsurprisingly terrible.

Then there is throwing out base runners. Herein are two rates I examine: how often a catcher is run on and how often he throws said runners out. I grant that neither is isolated to the catcher; the pitching staff again plays a role, but for a cursory check, it's not bad. Here are those two numbers plus corresponding values again presented in convenient table form.

Doumit Olivo League
Attempts (per 1,000IP) 111 93 100
Kill Rate (per attempt) 21% 32% 28%
Steals Value (-.2 per SB) -17.6 -12.6 -14.4
Kill Value (+.44 per CS) +10.1 +13.2 +12.3
Value Sum -7.5 +0.6 -2.1
Data covering 2009-11

A stolen base is valued at around 0.2 runs to the offense and a caught stealing at around 0.44 runs to the defense. In this category, we see that Olivo is quite a bit better than average while Doumit is quite a bit worse. Additionally, he poses a risk to teammates.

Finally there is pitch framing. I'm not absolutely sold on the numerics but I do like Mike Fast's study and methodology and so generally glance at that and then smudge in some regression. Miguel Olivo grades out at -1 run per 120 starts but Ryan Doumit is a retch-inducing -26 runs, the worst value in Fast's population. Hey Matthew, hows abouts a tables putting all three values togethers? Good idea, other Matthew who has an accent!

Doumit Olivo
WP+PB -1.1 -6.2
SB+CS -5.4 +2.7
Pitch Framing -26 -1
Total vs Avg per 120GS -32.5 -4.5

There are two relatively obvious points contained in that final line. First is that Miguel Olivo might not be all that terrible of a defensive catcher. Catch the ball, though, Miguel. Please catch the ball more. Also, wow is Doumit a sneakily bad catcher. I hate to have something as ill-understood as pitch framing sway this so much, but Mike Fast did single out Ryan Doumit in his article and illustrate why he might really be this bad.