Last summer, a lot of great content about catcher defense was put out, led by this Mike Fast piece at BP. Catcher defense is something we all know to be important to a team, but we haven’t been quite sure how to quantify it; now, it seems like we’re getting closer to doing so. Yesterday at SB Nation, Jeff Sullivan checked in to see which pitchers and staffs were getting the most strikes called for them. No Yankees were in the top ten or bottom ten, but they were tops in the AL in their difference (37) between actual strikes (3917) and expected strikes (3880). The Angels (23), Rays (21), and Red Sox (6) were the only other AL teams in the black for AS/ES differential; the Brewers lead the league with a +117 (the next closest team, the Braves, is at 70) and the Indians trail the league with -165 (the Pirates are second worst with a -135 mark).
So just how much have these extra strikes been worth? Using this piece by Dan Turkenkopf (found in the Fast article), we can assign a value of 0.13 runs per extra strike. Applying that to the Yankees’ 37 extra strikes this year give us a value of 4.81 runs. If we assume 10 runs per win, the Yankees’ extra-strike-getting-tool has added about half a win this year. At this rate of 37 extra strikes per 43 games (last night’s game not counted), we can extrapolate to about 143 extra strikes over the course of 162 games. Applying the same 0.13 runs/extra strike “rule,” that gives us a value of 18.59 runs, or almost two wins. That doesn’t seem like a ton, but in a tight division race like the one the Yankees will face as 2012 goes on, it could make a world of difference. Of coure, that’s assuming we assign all of that value to the pitch framing skills of Russell Martin (reputed to be a top notch pitch framer) and Chris Stewart. That’s probably not the case since there is the umpire variable, but regardless, it’s helping the team out.
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