Too much doom and gloom today. I’m not saying it hasn’t been earned, and heck, I wrote and/or edited all of it. But, technically, all that doom-inducing data is small sample so far, and I’d like to have some fun with the POSITIVE side of Small Sampleville.
Check out the best catching group in baseball by a mile:
— Scott Lindholm 📊 (@ScottLindholm) April 4, 2019
Although I don’t want to short-change Victor Caratini’s .500/.600/.750 line in his one start the other day, most of the catching production for the Cubs so far has come from Willson Contreras, who has caught four games, and put up a .429/.556/.786 (234 wRC+) line so far. He also hit a ball to the freaking center of the Sun yesterday.
Off to a hot start, @WContreras40 goes into tonight’s game at Atlanta slugging .786.
— #Statcast (@statcast) April 4, 2019
But just as encouraging in a small sample – maybe even more encouraging than the offense! – is Contreras’s work behind the plate. You’ll recall that FanGraphs defensive data now incorporates pitch-framing, which absolutely crushed Contreras’s defensive value (in the stats, I mean) last year. But he currently rates as a perfectly flat, neutral, not-positive-or-negative framer to FanGraphs. Huzzah!
If Contreras could improve from one of the worst framers in the game (by far) to a guy who doesn’t help or hurt you in that department? Or even if he were just slightly negative. That would be an ENORMOUS one-season climb, and all that work he put in to improve in the offseason would have been well-used.
Let’s just agree to keep an eye on it, OK? Pitch-framing does stabilize pretty quickly thanks to the huge volume of pitches you receive, but we’re gonna need several more weeks before we can actually draw any conclusions.
So today is just about the small sample fun. Good chart up there. I like that chart.