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Feature
 
 
Battery Mate Defense - Part 1

Reineke
on 04/21/2002

 
While Casanova and Bako may not be Blanco as far as throwing out runners go, it's also obvious that they're not Nilsson and that Brewer pitchers aren't Nomo.

There's no more controversial subject in baseball than how much effect do catchers have on the game defensively through game calling ability and other defensive attributes. Particularly since it's almost impossible to evaluate from team to team basis since there's a large variation in the quality of pitchers. Catchers are going to look better when they're catching for Greg Maddux as opposed to Jimmy Haynes, for example. The conventional wisdom, which is particularly voiced by several no-hit good defensive catchers like McCarver, Uecker, and MacFarlane, is that catchers can have a large effect on the game. The opposite point of view, shown in statistical detail by Keith Woolner (link) , is that catchers have practically no effect beyond their ability to throw out runners and that can be skewed by who they are catching.

Now, assuming Woolner's study is accurate, it really only says that catchers have little to no effect on a whole, but does not preclude that their may not be an effect on a smaller scale basis. It's not an uncommon notion that some pairs simply work together better than others and some pairs work together worse, whether it is due to "chemistry" or overlapping skill sets. You put a high strikeout pitcher with a weak catcher at throwing out baserunners, i.e. Nomo/Nilsson, and you can probably limit the damage, although it will look ugly watching the opposing teams run a track meet.. You put a pitcher with a good move that can shutdown or slow the running game like Pettitte, and you probably can get the benefits of a plus offensive catcher despite the catcher's defensive weaknesses, see Pettitte/Posada, Leiter/Piazza and Karl/Nilsson for examples. Put a great defensive catcher with a pitcher that has a good move, and you probably result in overkill, with theoretical pairings of Pettitte and Ivan Rodriquez or Blanco. And where the extremes meet, Blanco and Nomo, for example, it's totally unknown.

To test the theory of whether certain batteries are simply more effective than others, I've been keeping track of the 2002 Brewers using box scores and game logs to see if there is anything that can be gleaned from the data. It's very early in the season, so there's unlikely to be anything significant found (what can you determine from 3 or 4 innings anyways?), but it will give a good snapshot. Here's the data so far with any mistakes in the data being my responsibility (mea culpa):

2002 Milwaukee Brewers Battery Mate Defense
Compiled by Robert Reineke
Through games of 4/20/02

Battery IP H BB IBB HBP K R ER SB CS WP PB PCS PPO W L Sv Bs WHIP BMERA
Buddie / Bako 2.33 2 1 1 0 2 2 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.29 7.71
Buddie / Casanova 9.00 9 3 2 0 6 3 2 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1.33 2.00
Cabrera / Bako 3.33 7 2 0 0 2 5 5 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2.70 13.50
Cabrera / Casanova 10.00 5 3 1 0 8 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0.80 1.80
Dejean / Bako 3.00 2 1 0 0 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1.00 3.00
Dejean / Casanova 5.67 7 1 1 1 5 3 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1.41 4.76
Figueroa / Bako 1.00 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
Figueroa / Casanova 15.33 10 6 0 0 7 8 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1.04 4.70
King / Bako 0.33 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3.00 0.00
King / Casanova 1.00 6 0 0 0 1 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00 45.00
Mallette / Bako 0.33 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
Mallette / Casanova 0.67 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.50 13.50
Neugebauer / Casanova 13.33 10 10 0 0 14 9 9 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1.50 6.08
Nomura / Bako 0.67 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
Nomura / Casanova 6.33 5 7 0 1 5 4 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.89 5.68
Quevedo / Bako 7.33 7 2 0 0 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1.23 1.23
Quevedo / Casanova 12.00 16 12 1 0 6 14 9 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2.33 6.75
Rusch / Bako 28.67 23 6 0 1 21 10 9 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 1 0 0 1.01 2.83
Sheets / Casanova 21.33 22 7 1 2 22 9 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 1.36 3.38
Vizcaino / Bako 2.67 2 1 0 0 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1.13 3.38
Vizcaino / Casanova 8.00 7 3 0 1 7 3 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 1.25 3.38
Wright / Bako 4.33 7 6 1 0 2 4 3 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 3.00 6.23

It's still very early to be drawing conclusions. One good or bad outing can certainly skew the statistics at this stage. And there can be other factors at work. For example, did the Quevedo / Casanova battery struggle because of Casanova's presence behind the plate or, more likely, because Quevedo had a dead arm and couldn't get his fastball much above 85 MPH? So, taking what we have so far, just over 10% into the season, here's what I think we can conclude from the early data.

1)The Brewers don't particularly miss Henry Blanco

Five stolen bases vs. three caught stealing. K rates of Sheets, Neugebauer, and Vizcaino being better than 1 per inning, with good K:BB ratios from Rusch and others thrown in. Obviously the absence of Wright and Haynes from the Brewers rotation helps the K:BB ratios overall, so Casanova and Bako can't really get credit there, but it's also obvious that they're not hurting matters. And, while Casanova and Bako may not be Blanco as far as throwing out runners go, it's also obvious that they're not Nilsson and that Brewer pitchers aren't Nomo.

2)There doesn't appear to be any real reason to mix up the batteries

Sheets is pitching well with Casanova. Rusch is pitching well with Bako. Neugebauer is wild with lots of strikeouts, but that's consistent with his minor league record. Maybe you want to give Quevedo another start or two with Bako, but there are other factors at work, as discussed above, that may skew the statistics. At any rate, there don't appear to be any extreme outliers in this group, yet. And, among the relievers, there simply isn't a large enough sample size to really derive any meaning.

And, at this stage, that's pretty much all that can be derived. I plan to keep compiling this data and providing updates periodically as the season progresses. At that point, there may actually be some differences that are evident in the batteries. But, at this point, I think the data to date is just a starting point for discussion.

 




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otherArticles
 
  Exceeding Expectations
(2003-06-17)
A Stathead's Grades for the Brewers - Part 2: Pitchers
(2002-10-12)
A Stathead's Grades for the Brewers
(2002-10-02)
Battery Mate Defense
(2002-06-24)
Battery Mate Defense - Part 1
(2002-04-21)
Exactly Why Do the Brewers Need a Lefty?
(2001-12-18)
A (Lone?) Bright Spot
(2001-07-23)
A Statheads View of the Brewers Offensive Problems
(2001-07-04)

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