Comments on: Mike Napoli: Historically Powerful Catcher, Defensive Dilemma This and that about baseball stats. Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:01:55 +0000 hourly 1 By: Yanks climb to No. 1 spot in Power Rankings | Sports Thu, 02 Jun 2011 18:28:29 +0000 [...] Napoli is in some rarefied company when it comes to power from the catcher position. As noted in this blog post, Napoli’s two-home run game Monday pushed him within 0.01 percent of Mike Piazza for the best [...]

By: The Legendary Frank King Wed, 01 Jun 2011 11:08:37 +0000 @ #21, Texas is kind of stocked at 3B right now. Though none of those AAA/AA bats behind Beltre are quite major league ready. The Major League depth chart reads Beltre, Young, Blanco. Behind those I believe sits Chris Davis who has been bringing his bat along slowly over the past season and a half. This is not even getting into the guys sitting in the minors. Unless Beltre takes another one to the groin, Wash really wants him to earn that money with perfect attendance over at 3rd. And besides, I think Napoli is on a 1 year contract (?) so somebody will likely lose their mind over him in the off season.

@ #14, John, Thanks for the info and the caution. I got the feeling it was more of a novelty stat than something concrete. I know some starters have "their guy" but I'm not looking for an across the board/through the years comparison... It's more of a C.J. Wilson-Colby Lewis-Derek Holland-Alexi Ogando-Matt Harrison thing for me. I'm getting the feeling Torrealba for all his supposed defense is calling a worse game than Napoli.

By: SocraticGadfly Tue, 31 May 2011 20:22:14 +0000 Could Napoli also be taught the hot corner, to spell Beltre? Of course, that shoves Mike Young even further out of the "super-utility infielder" position.

By: JohnBoy Tue, 31 May 2011 19:41:59 +0000 John A-

Perhaps Scioscia had a family member in the Cucamonga stands that day?

By: John Autin Tue, 31 May 2011 18:17:48 +0000 @18, JohnBoy -- Thanks for the story.

I remember checking out Napoli's minor-league stats when he came up in May 2006 and had an OPS around 1.000 through the All-Star break. I noticed that he had led his class-A and AA leagues in both HRs and RBI in 2004-05, while also drawing lots of walks. Also, at AA in 2005, he threw out 47% of attempted base-stealers (61 of 127). I drafted him on my fantasy team the last couple of years that I did that stuff, and was bummed when he didn't get more playing time; it was obvious that Scioscia didn't like him. Not only were there defensive question marks, but Napoli was the exact opposite of Scioscia as a hitter -- high power, low BA, lots of Ks.

By: JohnBoy Tue, 31 May 2011 17:31:00 +0000 Footnote on Napoli: I watched this guy play for a couple years in the California League with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. In one game, while striking out 3 times, he lost his bat into the stands during all three ABs. The 3rd base crowd was fortunate not to suffer any injuries from his hurtling piece of lumber and they were smart (and comic) enough to rise en masse and move away during the third AB. His 4th AB was a monstrous homerun - the kind that wrote his ticket to the majors. Aside from his crowd-clearing swings, he was a fan favorite; interacting freely and never refusing an autograph to kids. After breaking a bat, he returned to the dugout and offered the cracked momento to my daughter to whom he has always remained a favorite. Yes, this is off-subject, but hopefully an interesting human interest perspective on this homerun machine.

By: John Tue, 31 May 2011 16:48:22 +0000 "f you put them at 1B or DH, their offensive edge at the position takes a big hit; a 120 OPS+ is only average for a 1B."

Y'see, this is why I come to bbref. I spent way too much time explaining to Red Sox fans this offseason that the Tigers overpaid for Victor Martinez, because I (and others: I'm not an original thinker) believed that Victor would be this exact sort of player by the end of that contract: a catcher whose catching skills are such that they have to stash him at an easier position, at which point his great offense is only going to be okay, not an enormous asset. VMart's career OPS+ is "only" 122. A nice bat... but eight figures as an okay first baseman / designated hitter? I'll pass.

Of course, he's not even catching THIS year, in the first year of the contract, thanks to Avila.

By: John Autin Tue, 31 May 2011 16:29:22 +0000 @15, Bobby G. -- Haven't we returned to the point where 25-30 HRs is a major accomplishment? Compare 1970 and 2010:

# of players hitting 25+ HRs, avg. per MLB team:
1970 -- 1.46 (35 players, 24 teams)
2010 -- 1.47 (44 players, 30 teams)

# of players hitting 35+ HRs, avg. per MLB team:
1970 -- 0.46 (11 players, 24 teams)
2010 -- 0.20 (6 players, 30 teams)

HRs as a % of AB:
1970 -- 2.30%
2010 -- 2.49%

By: Bobby G Tue, 31 May 2011 15:18:47 +0000 The list is a tribute to Johnny Bench, who was just a kid during this portion of his career. Only Campanella was in his league defensively, and he was nearly 7 years older. And don't forget that in the 70s, 25-30 HR in a year was a major accomplishment.

By: John Autin Tue, 31 May 2011 15:14:39 +0000 @13, Frank -- Catcher ERA (CERA) is definitely tracked, though I don't think any distinction is made based on whether they call their own game or not. B-R runs catcher ERA under Advanced Fielding; here's Mike Piazza's fielding page, scroll down to Advanced Fielding:

ESPN runs CERA as part of their standard defensive stats for catchers; see the right-most column here:

But beware of noise in this data. It's very hard to compare apples to apples; even catchers on the same team often don't have much overlap in the starting pitchers they catch for. For many years with Atlanta, Greg Maddux preferred any other catcher over Javy Lopez, so the #2 catcher had a leg up on Javy in the CERA race.

Furthermore, there's no consensus yet on whether the data are meaningful at all. According to Wikipedia, "Baseball Prospectus writer Keith Woolner found through statistical analysis of catcher performance that 'catcher game-calling isn't a statistically significant skill,'" while Bill James found that "there is too much yearly variation in CERA for it to be a reliable indicator of ability."'s_ERA