Baseball Prospectus published something of an academic treatise on catcher-framing, and they figured out a way to evaluate some catchers before the PITCHf/x era, as well as tighten up the catcher-framing they have for current catchers. There are implications for Giants both past and present.
Fair warning: I'm going to screw this up. When there's heavy math intertwined with baseball, my IQ goes down 30 points and I start nibbling on the edge of my laptop. I can't even use the English major excuse because I do the same thing when I read Umberto Eco or anyone with sentences longer than six words. Turns out I'm just not that smart.
Here's the gist, though. Baseball Prospectus ... well, they rebuilt their ... now they're including ... uh, they've regressed all sorts of ... maybe they should talk about it:
This new model allows simultaneous consideration of pitcher, catcher, batter, umpire, PITCHf/x, and other data for each taken pitch over the course of a season, and by controlling for each of their respective contributions will predict how many called strikes above (or below) average each such participant was worth during a particular season.
They explain how they do it. I like turtles.
You're here, though, for the findings as they relate to the Giants. For starters, Buster Posey moves from a solidly top-tier catcher to ... well, even more solidly top-tier. The new model gives Posey an additional 12 runs in the average year. That's an extra win, which might be the difference between the playoffs and a nice, relaxing October.
The real Posey is probably somewhere in the middle, which is why BP is using this additional data to evaluate catchers. So even though the Susac-to-catcher/Posey-to-third brigade is just getting started, and even though they will attract recruits until they overwhelm us all, this is why the Giants are smart to hold out for as long as they can. It turns out that Posey is a good catcher who helps his team win. Well, hell's bells, how about that?
There are other Giants-related findings, too. First, Andrew Susac was one of the best pitch-framers in Triple-A last year, saving 14 runs with his framing. He might have been closer to the top if he hadn't spent August and September in the majors. So while his his initial framing numbers in the majors weren't as sterling, the Triple-A numbers correspond with what my peepers were telling me. Susac is probably a sound framer, if not an excellent one.
The other Giants-related finding is that A.J. Pierzynski was apparently a good pitch-framer in 2003, which probably made Jerome Williams look deceptively effective, which led to him starting in Game 4 of the NLDS, which helped ruin the Giants' season. So Pierzynski hosed the Giants again, this time from b. The bastard. The guy just doesn't quit.
(An aside, remember how we all used to think the Giants were eternally cursed? Never forget how close Pierzynski came to winning Game 3 for the Cardinals.
He was so close to hitting that, he made this face:
This comes up now because a) up yours, A.J. Pierzynski and b) last season was awesome.)
So that's the important stuff. Posey is even better than we thought, Susac is pretty good, and Pierzynski is a dillweed who was sad when the Giants won the National League Championship Series last year. You probably knew all of that to some extent, but now Baseball Prospectus confirmed it.
Well, not the part about Pierzynski, but they're probably thinking it.