Catching is baseball's most endangered position

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#1 RShack


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Posted 23 May 2020 - 06:33 AM

Catcher is the one position on the field for which teams have still routinely traded offense for defense: It’s the rare position that has gained in defensive importance this century. But no other position is threatened with having so much defensive value stripped away. An automated strike zone, which MLB has begun to experiment with, would eliminate the value of receiving, and advances in training are already shrinking the gulf in defensive skill at the position.


Yankees catching instructor Tanner Swanson told FiveThirtyEight that an automated zone would completely change the position: “It would be almost a second DH.”



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#2 BSLChrisStoner



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Posted 23 May 2020 - 07:12 AM

That's a hyperbolic take from Swanson.

#3 Mackus



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Posted 23 May 2020 - 07:17 AM

People just started tracking pitch framing stats a few years ago (I still think they are largely noise) and yet if we eliminate that part of the catching job the catcher will go from by far the most important defensive position to by far the least? Not buying it at all.
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#4 BSLSteveBirrer


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Posted 23 May 2020 - 07:38 AM

I think I actually agree.


1. Pitch calling in a lot of cases now falls to the bench and the pitcher always has the final say. Not saying the catcher doesn't play a role. For sure he does but not like it used to be.

2. Stolen bases are no longer much of the game. In 2018 teams averaged 0.68 steal attempts per game.

3. Catchers can't block home plate anymore. Sure the swipe and tag is important but how many runs does it actually impact one way or the other.


So if framing goes away with auto balls and strikes then pretty much all that is left defensively is blocking pitches in the dirt. Now that is clearly important. 


But if you take this big picture wise it sure looks like the position is becoming much more about hitting and less about defense.

#5 dude



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Posted 23 May 2020 - 07:43 PM

I'm guessing Tanner Swanson is the pitch framing instructor.  Gotta build some job security.


If I'm the Yankees, I'd be concerned about one of my coaches sharing this as a real thought.

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