The Cubs Were Excellent Pitch Framers in 2016, Could Be in 2017, Too, and Other Bullets

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The Cubs Were Excellent Pitch Framers in 2016, Could Be in 2017, Too, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

The two big kiddos and I are heading out to visit with family in Toledo today, so I’ll be doing a lot of driving. I gotta get these kids into podcasts so we can listen together. But something tells me that the three-year-old and five-year-old aren’t quite yet ready to dig into ‘StartUp’ or ‘Reply All’.

  • Given that the 2016 Cubs featured two of the best pitch-framing catchers in baseball (Miguel Montero and David Ross), and given that my vague recollection is that Willson Contreras rates as around neutral, I am not surprised to see this:

  • Given that a “win” is roughly 10 runs, that’s nearly two and a half extra wins that the Cubs netted in 2016 because of pitch-framing (and, every game that isn’t a win is a loss, so that’s a five-game swing right there – in most seasons, that’s absolutely enormous). Those framing stats are from Baseball Prospectus, where Miguel Montero accounts for 15.2 runs (4th in MLB), and David Ross is at 5.1 runs (20th in MLB). What’s very interesting is that Willson Contreras rates just two spots behind Ross, at 4.5 runs (over about 300 fewer pitches, too). What’s doubly interesting is that Statcorner rates those three Cubs catchers in nearly the same spots, with the only major difference being that Ross jumps up the list a bit.
  • Going into 2017, the Cubs lose Ross, but with some improvement from Contreras – which should be expected – there might not be too much fall-off in the framing department for the Cubs, so long as Montero is still able to start a healthy chunk of the games. Unless Contreras becomes an elite framer, though, you’re still going to see some fall-off, since Contreras figures to catch the majority of the games in 2017. There’s also a question of the small sample here so far on Contreras’s big league framing ability, since he was protected a bit, in terms of who he was asked to catch, and we saw – at least anecdotally – that framing pitches from someone like Jake Arrieta (big velocity and nasty movement) is a work in progress. Still, though, I’m pretty encouraged by all of this.
  • I said yesterday we were all done with the Maddon-Chapman-Playoff-Usage discussion, and I totally meant it … but there are two ancillary things (so I’m technically in the clear) that came to my attention after that post that I promise you’ll want me to share, even if you never want to think about any of that stuff again. Trust a blogger!
    • First, David Schoenfield writes about the whole situation, which you can read if you want more, but the part that I’d forgotten to mention in all of this: after a postseason of very heavy pitching, Andrew Miller – the poster child for creative reliever usage, and using a guy when you need him most no matter what – gave up two earned runs in Game 7, too. The same as Chapman.
    • Second, tps pointed something out on Twitter that may have ingrained in Maddon a particular desire never to let his team lose a big, late lead in a playoff game without going to his best reliever. In the 2008 ALCS, which ultimately saw the Rays beat the Red Sox and head to the World Series, the Rays had a 7-0 lead in Game 5 of the Series, which they led 3-1. The Red Sox scored eight runs off the Rays’ bullpen in the final three frames and won the game. Looking at it, I can’t take any issue with the way Joe Maddon, then the manager of the Rays, managed that game, but it certainly stands out when you think about this year’s World Series Game 6, and the huge lead Maddon absolutely would not allow the Cubs to lose. Perhaps it was a defining memory for Maddon about how you proceed in the postseason, and how you can never assume any size lead is truly safe. After all, Maddon was facing the very same manager in the other dugout, as Terry Francona was then the manager of the Red Sox.
  • There may be a little heat to that recently-floated-rumor about Jeffrey Loria being willing to sell the Marlins for $1.7 billion. The Miami Herald reports that Loria actually is open to offers for the team, and has had talks in the last few months with potential buyers, though nothing has materialized yet or is necessarily close. This is worth following, as it has the “feel” of an eventual sale. Given how the Marlins have been run under Loria, it could represent an eventual sea change in how we view the Marlins’ organization, and in how competitive they are in the NL long-term.
  • After liking Baseball is Fun on Facebook, you should enjoy the following video (in no small part because, despite the trickery and hilariousness … that was not a strike):

  • One of Amazon’s Deals of the Day is a sale on various NCAA gear, so if you’ve been looking to stock up on cheap alma mater duds, check it out.
  • META: You will notice Baseball is Fun posts appearing in the stream on the front page from time to time. The posts don’t actually live here at BN – it’s a link that’ll take you to the post at BIF – and there will always be a clear marker that it’s a BIF post. We’re stepping it up there in the coming year, and I think we do some really enjoyable lighter stuff at BIF, so I want to make sure folks have the opportunity (but not the obligation) to hop over and check it out. Outside of your eyes skimming over an extra post, if you’re not interested, you won’t notice any change here.


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.