Anything better than "horrible" is an improvement. Anything much better than horrible is tantamount to a transformation. You set the baseline as "horrible."
From that to brilliant is transformative, even if only in a few games. ( "I've already said my "sample size" in these matters, unlike with BA and the like, differs from yours. And I've explained why. ) You were in no hurry to note how much better -- if that really was the case -- until others commented upon how well Salty was calling games. One would think that someone who follows the games as closely as you -- pitch by pitch, as you say -- especially someone who's called the young man "horrible," might at last observe that Salty is doing better, at least better than "horrible," even in ( according to your criteria for all positions and facets of positions ) a "small sample size," and take encouragement, however tentative, from the trend, as you put it. Never mind last year. And, given my reservations about CERA, I'm not sure I would have agreed with you then.
I have stated that I feel a catcher partially influences how well (or badly) a pitcher does, and some games the influence is more than in others. It's hard to pinpoint in a one game sample size how much a catcher influenced the outcome. That is why I don't ever use a bad game to support my position. I think I am being reasonable in not accepting your 1 game sample size as proof of improvement just yet. I'm not saying the last 2 games can not be the start of a new trend, but I think it is unreasonable for you to expect me to think 2 games bear so much meaning.
I'm in no hurry to make dispositive judgments on pitcher/catcher CERA and the like, and when I am, if ever, my criteria will differ from yours. You're playing with a stacked deck. You set the terms by raw numbers -- and they are decisive.
Just because I use data to support my position, does not mean that is all I use to base my opinion on. My best friend was a quality pitcher. I have played the game. I have read what many pitchers say about catchers both generically and specifically. I'd say the vast majority give a lot of credit to their catchers. I don't think they are empty platitudes made towards friends or to not wrinkle any feathers.
So at the end of the year, if the numbers come out according to your projections, you can say that you were right. But that begs the question. It's your assumptions and methodology that arouse skepticism: the closed box causality. I've seen correlations as high as .6 and .7 not taken to demonstrate causality because so many variables remain shadowy and not precisely available to quantification.
If my projection comes out to be correct, it will not prove my position to be infallible, but I think it will show that catchers do make a difference to some degree. To what degree is debateable. I know there are many variables involved in a pitcher's performance on any given night or over a season sample size. Shoppach having better numbers than Salty will not prove that Salty is worse than Shoppach, but it will appear that he is in this area. The fact that certain catchers continually get better results with the majority of the pitchers on their teams year after year in a very consistent manner should not be totally ignored.
I've learned never to argue with someone on his hobby horse -- not now, not in October.
Tell you what. I'm going to consult a few good baseball men in and around LA, and, if they haven't heard of CERA, try to explain it to them as well as I can -- even perhaps using your numbers -- to see what they think. What they say may not hold any more water than what you say -- but I'll have a listen just out of curiosity.
If you ask these people, make sure you present the theory correctly. CERA should not be used as many use it: total year CERA of catcher A vs catcher B. It is not a good stat to compare a catcher from one team with one from another. The stat is highly restrictive, and should only be used to compare catchers who catch the same pitchers and who by and large have the same defense behind the pitchers as well. The data from pitchers who are caught almost exclusively by one catcher should not be considered in the evaluation. This makes some teams have no viable evidence to judge by. The sample sizes should be more than a handful of innings. I know that just CERA and OPS against is not the whole story, but if one sees a clear trend year after year, with one catcher continually getting better results from the same pitchers the other team catcher has caught, then I tend to believe that catcher makes a noticable difference. I do not think it is as high as harness thought it might be (1 to 1.50 runs per game). I think it might be as high as 0.66 between a goodcatcher and a poor one, but it could be more or less.
I am not 100% certain of my position, but I feel very confident that the trends will continue as they almost always have.
I've never said a catcher makes "no difference," and I doubt that many pitchers or ex-pitchers would make such a flat statement. No straw men.
OK, I thought I read you said "or no difference" to a comment about a catcher's influence. I guess I read that the wrong way. I thought you we implying a catcher might not make any difference. Sorry for misunderstandingand misrepresenting your position.
What's your evidence for thinking that another catcher would have been .033 to .066 better than Salty in games before he saw the light?
1) I'm not convinced he has "seen the light".
2) If he has, there is no evidence, because the point is now moot.
Players can improve. Salty is young enough to think he can improve greatly, or do as many players do: stay pretty close to where they are at 27.
I don't know how much Salty influenced the pitcher in the last 2 games he caught. The pitchers looked good, and they appeared to like what Salty was asking of them. This is encouraging, but not enough for me to be convinced...yet.
Did you chart the pitches and say, more than once, "See, if Salty calls for X instead of W, the pitcher gets that guy out"?
Very very rarely. I do watch every pitch of every game. i have missed maybe 3 games over the last 4 years. I watch games on tape delay mostly and sometimes replay key pitches of plays. I particularly watch defense (esp at SS) and pitch type and location, but no, I do not "chart them". I do think that in general, Salty does not call for enough inside pitches or "purpose pitches". It's a gutsy call to make, and some pitchers are reluctant to do it, or might panic an miss the location. That is not all on the catcher's head. I give great importance to the pitcher's ability. I look for pitchers missing locations (targets), but have no way of knowing for sure what pitch and location was called for, so it is hard to assign blame on a game-to-game basis.
I am not a blind follower of stats and data, but I do think that over large sample sizes, one can get a rough idea of what is what.
Or do just feel that a better catcher would have made a difference? Or with "horrible" in mind, were you predisposed to give the kid a bum rap. I'm assuming that before the last few games he was still in your "horrible box." Maybe you were looking for more of the same, and were sure you'd found."
I did not know Salty was "horrible" before last year, but I expected a young catcher would not come close to VTek's abilities in this area. I remember arguing with harness that I thought he was learning from Vtek. I had said the same about VMart, the year before. However, as the year progressed, I saw too much inconsistency, and a vast difference in how Salty handled certain pitchers vs how VTek did. Salty then began looking "horrible" in mid August. It wasn't just pitch-calling and loaction-calling, but he really lost it in other defensive areas as well. I totally lost faith. I admit that. Yes, i was predisposed to expecting Salty to be inconsistent again this year, but knew and stated several times, that he was at an age where very few cacthers had aleady mastered CERA-related areas of theri game and that he had time to improve. My position was that he was only under team control for this year and next, and that maybe this team could ill afford (with the loss of Paps) to let a young catcher "cut his teeth" in hopes that he "gets it together" almost overnight. If we reallyt wanted to win it all this year, I didn't think Salty would help our staff improve, which is what we most sorely needed (along with better defense). I don't think I let my opinion cloud my observations. From what I saw up until the last 2 games, was "more of the same". I wasn't going to mention anything about it until at least 40 games had been played, but when I saw this thread, I jumped the gun.
What I saw, a lot of the time, was dreadful pitching -- no matter what or where Salty called for.
I think you are a man of honor, and you will live or die with your own convictions and numerology. But that is not the beginning and the end of the issue. It's one perspective.
Now, I think you are misrepresenting where I come from. It's not all about numbers with me. However, I feel clear trends in data should not be ignored.
I wasn't always a firm believer in a catcher's great influence in pitching results. i always knew they mattered, but never really looked at this as a comparative study issue, until 2 years ago. I read all the data harness presented, and did some research on my own (looking at much more than just ERA). I also found many clear trends that lasted year after year after year, and came to believe it couldn't be a hoax. I admit that I am not sure exactly how and why some pitcher consistently do better with some catchers over others. I even joked that maybe it was the "catcher cologne". I also noticed a striking fact: teams seemed to win more with the weker hitting/great CERA or defensive catcher more than with their better hitting/poorer CERA catcher. Guys like Mathis (consistently one of the leagues worst hitting catcher) had a better winning percent than Napoli (one of the leagues best hitting catchers). The Yanks won a higher percentage of games without Posada than with him over a long stretch of time. And, the Sox won way more with Vtek than Vmart or Salty (both of whom are better hitters than Vtek), and even if you take away the beckett games from Vtek, we still won more with him than Salty.
Can we agree to just wait it out. I won't claim any victory if Salty gets poorer results this year. For one thing, I'm not a big fan of Shoppach's game-calling abilites either, but he seemed to have a decent or average history in these areas over the last few years. I will be greatly saddened if our staff has a 5.00+ CERA with Salty, because it will probably mean we missed the playoffs again. If I had to project when salty might pull it all together, it would probably be 2013 or 2014 or even 2015 (if ever). I hope he learns quicker than I project. I'm not hoping he stinks so I can say "I told you so".