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※ 本文為 dinos 轉寄自 ptt.cc 更新時間: 2013-07-12 21:45:17
看板 MLB
作者 kelpiejo (開啤酒)
 [翻譯] Art of Pitch Framing 捕手的尾勁 (下)

時間 Fri Jul 12 21:09:13 2013

Studying the art of pitch framing by catchers such as Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart, Jose Molina, and others - Grantland
Trying to turn balls into strikes isn't new, but the catchers who do it well may soon be more prized than ever. ...

Video is widely available through the minors, but the pitch-tracking
technology that has made the Molina name more famous has penetrated only so
far. According to one front-office source, about 40 minor league ballparks
have a PITCHf/x system installed, and about 25 are equipped with Trackman (a
competing ball-tracking technology that relies on Doppler radar). Around 20
of the 30 parent clubs have at least one affiliate with one of the two
systems in place, with the highest concentration at Triple-A. The teams pool
much of the information that's collected; the more of your own PITCHf/x or
Trackman data you elect to share with others, the more you receive in return
(although clubs generally keep info from non-league events held in their
stadiums — workouts, high school and college games — to themselves).


Still, 65 ballparks with ball-tracking technology just scratches the surface
of professional baseball below the big leagues. Even in 2013, seven years
after the first PITCHf/x systems were installed in big league ballparks, most
of the minors — to say nothing of amateur and international baseball — are
a ball-tracking blind spot. That means that receiving skills still have to be
evaluated the old-fashioned way (with actual eyes) and the slightly less
old-fashioned way (via video).6


That's not really a problem, because the search for good framers, like almost
every other pursuit in the modern front office, works best with input from
both stats and scouts. Over small samples, an experienced scout or instructor
can tell you more about someone's receiving skills than a computer connected
to a camera can, especially at levels where it's more difficult for catchers
to frame pitches because the pitchers can't hit the target consistently.
Opinions vary on exactly how long it takes to evaluate a catcher's receiving
skills, but the consensus is that the assessment comes quickly.


Yankees catcher Chris Stewart confidently says he can spot a strong receiver
in five to 10 pitches. Others offer more conservative estimates. "I think you
need a couple of games to give a truthful evaluation," Yeager says. "You have
to see a guy catch a couple of days, and you have to see him catch three or
four different pitchers, because every pitcher's different."


That snap judgment is just the start. Once you've acquired a catcher with
some raw talent for framing, the real work begins. There's no
one-size-fits-all plan for grooming great receivers — and not every catching
instructor agrees on the proper way to receive pitches — but there are,
generally, two types of improvements a player can make. There's the
mechanical change, which can be adopted immediately, and the incremental
increase in comfort and confidence that comes with experience, repetition,
and familiarity with a pitching staff.


Some catchers are framing fixer-uppers, just a few exterior alterations away
from becoming much more valuable properties. For Diamondbacks bullpen coach
Glenn Sherlock, a former minor league catcher and an experienced catching
instructor whom Arizona GM Kevin Towers credits with turning Miguel Montero
into a good framer, the first fix is glove height. "I think catchers' targets
at the bottom of the zone is so important," he says. "You see a lot of
catchers who have high targets and take the balls out of the strike zone."7

練Glenn Sherlock就是GM Kevin Towers找來修補Miguel Montero的。Sherlock認為,第

Stewart recalls a mechanical tweak that helped him in 2008: "I had my thumb
pointing down. That's kind of the natural way you learn to catch. But
[Yankees bench coach Tony Pena] had me turn my glove so my thumb was more
pointing toward the second baseman area instead of pointing down at the
plate. It helped me work on balls coming on my left side easier. I didn't
have to turn my whole arm."

其實當你學習接球的時候蠻自然就養成這習慣的啊。但是牛棚教練Tony Pena要我把手套

Yeager focuses first on a catcher's stance. "I think you can correct some
guys that are doing something just by the positioning of his arm," he says.
"Sometimes they have a tendency to get the arm inside of the knee, or they
get it on the outside of the knee, and … their knee sometimes gets in the
way … Everything in the positioning is a key."


Lower the target, turn your thumb, adjust your crouch. That's the easy stuff.
It may feel unnatural at first, and it takes some time to get used to, but it
can produce improvement overnight. The more grueling method of improvement,
the one that over the long run produces the greater gains, is as simple as it
is painstakingly slow: catch. Catch in games, catch in the bullpen, catch in
side sessions, and then do it again in your dreams after you finally fall
asleep. "Baseball is a habit," Cervelli says. "It's a repetition. You've got
to repeat things every day, and they come."



Bullpen drills are a big part of that repetition. Pitching machines can
simulate any type of pitch, at any speed, in any location, and apprentice
pitch framers exhaust all the possibilities. The drills aren't a time to fill
your quota of practice pitches and move on to something more interesting.
They're a time to concentrate and consolidate lessons.


"We do some things with the pitching machines, breaking balls, left-handed,
right-handed," Sherlock says. "We move the catcher around behind the plate to
work on backhand pitches and forehand pitches. Work on some soft wiffle-balls
to simulate movement, and just working on catching it without a glove …
 Also, something that we do is check to make sure that they're breathing back
there. You start watching the catchers go through these drills and see that
they're holding their breath."


Motivated catchers don't just do drills. They watch video, both of themselves
and their opponents at the position. "Watch video of guys that are good,"
Stewart says. "Watch them and see how they do it and try to intertwine it
into your game."


Eventually, all of this pays off in game action. If it sounds a little
monotonous, well, it is. That's another reason why, even if decades down the
line every place where baseball is played comes pre-installed with a PITCHf/x
(or FIELDf/x) system, there will still be a role for scouts. No matter how
all-seeing the eyes in the sky above ballparks become, teams will still need
to know what's going on inside their players. Character and work ethic are at
least as important in determining whether a catcher reaches his ceiling as a
receiver as it is in determining how good a hitter he'll be.


"We can make you better if you have an open mind and you're willing to work
and willing to try certain things," says Yeager, who mentions Russell Martin,
A.J. Ellis, and Tim Federowicz as some of his best students.8 "[You've] got
to want to get back there and take the time of squatting and blocking balls,
transferring balls, throwing balls, receiving balls, getting your hands beat
up, getting foul tips into you. You've got to realize that you're going to
get beat up physically back there."
The good news is that if you do have the masochistic impulse to get drilled
by baseballs, you can have a future in framing. Naturally, the younger you
start to work, and the more naturally gifted you are, the quicker it will
come, but those gifts aren't a prerequisite. "If you see a guy that has some
very soft hands, you know that at one point he's going to get it," says Tony
Pena, a four-time Gold Glover who now serves as the Yankees' bench coach and
catching instructor.9 "There's no limit. There's going to be a guy that plays
for a long time and then becomes a really good catcher over years."

Russell Martin、A.J. Ellis和Tim Federowicz的恩師Yeager表示,「如果你願意敞開心
板凳教練Tony Pena說:「你只要看到有那種手感很好的人,你就知道他會是一回事。沒

"I don't think everybody can be the same," Cervelli says. "[But] if you work,
if you let somebody coach you, it can happen. You can be close." Stewart
concurs. "Obviously there's something inside that person that allows him to
do what he's able to do, but it's more of a repetition skill, I think, than a
God-given talent."


Being born without the hands of a Molina brother is a handicap, but it's a
handicap that can be overcome. Now that teams know what a great receiver is
worth, and players know that they know, both sides have more incentive than
ever to focus on framing, both before and after each backstop's big league


§ § §

Brian Cashman has never known the feeling, but there's a certain freedom that
comes with being in charge of a bad baseball team, especially one that
isn'texpected to be good. Unburdened by the constant pressure to minimize
risk and construct a competitive roster that accompanies a club like the
Yankees, losing teams led by creative executives are able to experiment and
innovate. If you're going to be bad no matter what you do, you might as well
try to be bad in a way that will make you better eventually.

Brian Cashman從來沒有過這種感覺,但是管理一支不怎樣的球隊卻有某種自由,尤其是

That's what we're seeing with the Astros, a rebuilding club that's currently
making the Marlins look like big spenders. Rather than risk jeopardizing
their long-term potential by trying to strike a balance between rebuilding
and respectability, the Astros decided to raze their roster, trading every
veteran who wasn't tied down and spending hardly anything on free agents.
It's a path that has led to a lot of losing, with much more to come. But it's
also allowed the Astros to completely start over, in just about every
capacity. They've restocked a formerly barren minor league system, climbing
from 26th to ninth in the Baseball Prospectus organizational rankings in a
single season. They've blazed new trails in pitcher usage patterns and
defensive shifts. And led by GM Jeff Luhnow, they've assembled a new-school,
cross-disciplinary front office with intellectual talent drawn from atypical
baseball backgrounds.

名。他們在輪值和防守布陣上開始了新的嘗試。在總管Jeff Luhnow的帶領之下,太空人

One member of that front office is Mike Fast. And as you'd expect, given
Fast's focus on framing before he was hired, the Astros are exploring ways in
which they can make receiving skills a strength. You can't see that effort
reflected yet at the major league level; backup catcher Carlos Corporan is
about average, according to Marchi's model, and starter Jason Castro is
somewhat worse. It wouldn't matter much, anyway. A few extra strikes in the
majors right now wouldn't make the Astros' immediate outlook any less
hopeless. It's below the surface where Houston's framing future is taking
shape. That's where the Astros are seeking out the potential benefits of
developing strong receivers before they reach the big league level.

這個FO的成員之一是前面有提到的Mike Fast。跟你想的一樣,Fast既然曾經關心過接捕

Jason Castro則更加略遜一籌。不過沒差啦,現在在大聯盟多幾顆好球不會讓太空人看起

By stocking the minors with good framers, the Astros could accelerate their
pitching prospects' development or make them more attractive to other teams
by bolstering their stats with catchers who earn them extra strikes. With the
catchers themselves, Houston can simply wait until Castro and Corporan enter
the arbitration process and start to make more than they're worth, at which
point they can promote those prospects. By the time the Astros decide to make
winning at the big league level a priority, they could have a few catchers
capable of expanding the strike zone. They may have put the first phase of
that plan into action when they acquired Double-A catching prospect Max
Stassi, a 22-year-old with a reputation for strong receiving skills, in the
February trade that sent Jed Lowrie to Oakland.

捕手了。這計畫的第一步可能是今年二月時,他們用游擊手Jed Lowrie跟運動家換來了2A
捕手Max Stassi,22歲的他接捕的技巧頗受好評。

The man tasked with overseeing the receiver assembly line is Mark Bailey, the
former Astros catcher and bullpen coach who accepted a new position this
season as the club's roving catching instructor, and he couldn't sound more
excited. The 51-year-old is a recent convert to the church of pitch framing,
and he's eager to spread the word. Bailey has seen the research and the
stats, and he's also studied what the catchers who produce the best stats
look like. Fast and Astros director of decision sciences Sig Mejdal have sent
him video comparing good receivers like Jose Molina and Jonathan Lucroy with
subpar receivers, and the visuals made a major impression.

被指派去監督整個接捕作業計畫的人是Mark Bailey,前太空人捕手和牛棚教練,他本季
手看起來應該要是怎麼樣。他從Fast和太空人的決策科學總監Sig Mejdal那邊收到一段錄

"A lot of it's stuff that we already kind of knew and learned," Bailey says,
"but to really see it and look at the numbers … some of the video that I saw
was really amazing. The good and the bad. You compare, and it's like, 'Whoa.'"


That eureka moment made Bailey reevaluate what he looks for first in a


"In the past, it's always been the guy with the strong arm," Bailey says.
"But my opinion is moving in [the direction of framing], just by watching
this and looking at some of that research … It's always been the premium
asset back there, but this is a little bit different. This takes it a step


The next stage is implementing a development strategy designed to make the
most of each catcher's receiving skills, and there appears to be buy-in at
all levels of the organization. Jeff Murphy, a former minor league backstop
who spent 12 seasons as the Cardinals' bullpen catcher and catching
instructor, followed Luhnow to Houston, where he's serving in the same role
this season. Although Murphy stresses still-intangible aspects of catching —
 like handling a pitching staff and calling games — to a greater degree than
Bailey, it's clear that he considers receiving skills important. Maybe a
little too important, if you ask his exhausted pupils.

都需要補人了。前小聯盟捕手和紅雀的牛棚捕手Jeff Murphy跟著Luhnow來到休士頓做一

"The first day of spring training, I told them, every morning, we're going to
be in the cage at 7 a.m.," Murphy says. "And we're doing receiving drills,
and we're just working on receiving … and these guys had never been through
that type of work. And they said, 'You know what, we're not used to this.'
And I said, 'This is our time to practice.'"


If Bailey, Murphy, and the rest of the new Houston regime have their way,
that practice will translate into wins a few years from now. And if the
Astros' approach succeeds, it's bound to inspire copycats, even if no one
writes a book or makes a movie about it. All it will take is for other teams
to start asking the same simple question Bailey says he's asked himself: "Why
not try to get better?"


"That's the way the game is," says Kirt Manwaring, the Giants' former Gold

Glove catcher and current catching coordinator. "Once somebody does
something, once somebody's successful at something, then they want to try to
find the method behind the madness. 'Well, what are they doing?'"

「本來就這樣了啦。」巨人隊的前金手套得主,現在的捕手總監Kirt Manwaring這麼說。

Not every baseball lifer is as open-minded as Bailey, but the Astros, the

Yankees, the Rays, and any other teams that have already started targeting
and trying to develop good framers are only the vanguard. The market for
catchers with superior receiving skills will grow more crowded as long as it
looks like an area where clubs can get an edge. As Russell Martin says, it's
"a lot easier to teach somebody how to frame a pitch than it would be to
teach them how to hit homers and drive in runs."

這市場一定會打開的。Russell Martin說得好,「要教一個人接捕,比要教他尻全壘打簡

If you take the Astros' plan, and Manwaring's comment about copycats, to
their logical conclusion, then at some point in the not-too-distant future,
almost every team — save, perhaps, for a few with gifted offensive catchers
for whom framing aptitude is less paramount — could have someone squatting
behind the plate and stealing extra strikes. But sweeping changes to the
sport rarely come without unforeseen consequences. That kind of mass movement
toward catchers with strong receiving skills would upset the delicate balance
between batter and pitcher; if you think baseball's strikeout rates are high
now, wait until the first wave of Stepford framers arrives. If umpires start
to see nothing but good receivers, they might adjust their zones, much like a
hitter adjusts to a pitch he's shown too often. Then the framing bubble would
burst, as previous advantages have when every organization discovered them.


It's also possible that a greater awareness of framing could hasten the end
of umpiring as we know it. The discovery of framing has opened up a new field
of research for authors and aspiring sabermetricians, but what's good for
baseball writers isn't always good for baseball. Even if the intent isn't to
criticize umpires, it's impossible to write about framing without drawing
some attention to the fact that the rulebook strike zone is more of an
abstract concept than something that exists in the wild. The more attention
that the catcher's ability to influence the strike zone receives, the more
likely it is that Major League Baseball will act to automate it. And if the
human element goes, replaced by robo umps, then framing will go with it.


The calls might be more accurate. But we'd lose the art that is a perfect


§ § §

What Francisco Cervelli wants to talk about, more than how much better he's
gotten at framing, is how much better he's still going to get. "I'm hungry,"
he says. "I want it more than everybody. I don't work to maintain, I work to
be better and better and better."


Cervelli's stats suggest that the work has been worth it. From 2009 to 2010,
his receiving saved the Yankees 6.3 runs in 979 innings. But from 2011 to
2013, looking much more quiet behind the plate, he's saved the Yankees 16.6
runs in 459⅓ innings — more than twice as many runs in less than half the
playing time. Cervelli was an infielder and a pitcher before the Yankees
signed him out of Venezuela and converted him to catcher, so he faced a
steeper learning curve than most professionals. But he's living proof that
receiving skills can improve over time if accompanied by proper coaching and
a desire to improve.


The market-induced demise of framing might arrive one day, but it's not here
yet. Careerwise, this is the best time in baseball history to be a solid
receiver. Framing is Chris Stewart's meal ticket, too — he's saved 16.5 runs
in a little more than 8,000 pitches — and he's well aware of it.



"Within the last two or three years it's taken over as one of the highly
sought-after skill sets for a defensive catcher," he says. "The sabermetrics
stuff coming out, they put a value on it. We actually have a number for it.
It's not a 'This guy's good' or 'This guy's bad,' it's like, 'This guy's this
good' and 'This guy's this bad.'"


It's early in the season, but it's not too soon to assess the Yankees'
Cervelli / Stewart experiment. Through the game in which Cervelli was
injured, the pair had combined to catch 1,792 called pitches and saved the
Yankees a little more than five runs in the process. If we extend that to the
number of called pitches Yankees catchers caught last season, their total
contribution comes to 36 runs. A.J. Pierzynski's extended total over the
entire season has him costing the Rangers roughly seven runs. He might outhit
Cervelli and Stewart, but not by nearly enough to make up for a framing
disparity that size. Even if he came close, there would still be the
not-so-small matter of his salary, which is almost six times higher than
Cervelli's and Stewart's put together.

現在才剛開季,不過不算太早來論斷洋基在捕手位置的Cervelli / Stewart實驗。到

Runs are runs, whether they're scored or saved. Now that we know how many
runs Cervelli, Stewart, and others like them are saving, those former fringe
players have become commodities that every team wants.


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