#80 Gary Carter

For Carter, a big part of his case for the top 100 list is in his defense. To do some analysis on that, I bring back the tool I used for catcher defense in the Carlton Fisk post – namely generalized linear mixed effect models. Briefly, in the baseball context, it works as a sort of automated WOWY analysis, with regression to the mean.

The specific thing I want to look at for Carter is preventing stolen bases. This means both throwing runners out and causing them to not run in the first place. I start with retrosheet play-by-play data, from 1921 – 2017. In order to isolate steal situations, and also provide some standardization in the situational context, I take only cases where

  • there’s a runner on first
  • second and third are empty
  • the score differential is 4 runs or less
  • the inning is the 8th or earlier

For each of these I model whether a stolen base occurred, based on the identities of the catcher, the pitcher, and the runner on first. This means a catcher gets credit for the case a runner chooses not to attempt a steal, as well as the cases he throws the runner out. The output of the model is the estimated contribution to the probability of a successful steal due to each of the catcher, pitcher, and runner – which can be thought of as an estimate of the “true talent” for preventing (or allowing) steals. For analysis purposes, I translate this into a “probability added” over what the probability would have been with an average player instead. There’s a lot of context this is glossing over and it’s far from perfect – but I don’t believe in letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

With this framework, the following are the top 20 catcher season in terms of reduced steal probability

nameAbbv year delta_steals
1 I.Rodriguez 1997 -27.9
2 I.Rodriguez 1998 -22.2
3 G.Carter 1979 -21.7
4 B.Santiago 1988 -20.9
5 I.Rodriguez 1999 -20.1
6 C.Johnson 1996 -19.5
7 J.Bench 1972 -17.4
8 J.Bench 1969 -17.3
9 T.Hall 2003 -16.0
10 Y.Molina 2014 -15.9
11 R.Hundley 1968 -15.8
12 J.Bench 1975 -15.5
13 T.Pena 1983 -15.4
14 B.Boone 1982 -15.3
15 J.Bench 1970 -15.3
16 C.Cannizzaro 1965 -15.3
17 B.Boone 1986 -14.8
18 B.Ausmus 2000 -14.5
19 D.Crandall 1959 -14.5
20 G.Carter 1978 -14.5

We see Carter’s 1979 right there at number 3, with his 1978 at number 20. On a per opportunity basis, the list is as follows

nameAbbv year delta_steal_rate
1 I.Rodriguez 1997 -0.034
2 I.Rodriguez 1998 -0.029
3 B.Santiago 1988 -0.028
4 C.Johnson 1996 -0.028
5 C.Cannizzaro 1965 -0.027
6 H.Blanco 2000 -0.027
7 G.Carter 1979 -0.026
8 I.Rodriguez 1999 -0.025
9 Y.Molina 2014 -0.025
10 I.Rodriguez 2001 -0.025
11 K.Johjima 2009 -0.025
12 G.Carter 1976 -0.023
13 J.Bench 1972 -0.023
14 S.Perez 2012 -0.023
15 J.Bench 1975 -0.023
16 R.Dempsey 1974 -0.023
17 D.Ross 2007 -0.023
18 S.Yeager 1978 -0.022
19 T.Prince 1997 -0.022
20 J.Mauer 2007 -0.022

And we see that limited-playing-time 1976 season joining the list at #12.

With these mixed effects models, where you control for the context, you necessarily end up measuring the context – in this case leading to some interesting observations about runners and pitchers as well. As one example, following is the list of pitcher seasons that allowed the most extra stolen bases – a bunch of fireballers and knucklers!

nameAbbv year delta_steals
1 D.Gooden 1990 24.4
2 T.Wakefield 2007 21.3
3 F.Youmans 1986 21.1
4 T.Seaver 1983 21.1
5 M.Scott 1990 20.9
6 L.Barker 1980 20.8
7 D.Gooden 1988 20.3
8 J.Juden 1997 20.1
9 N.Ryan 1988 19.4
10 N.Ryan 1977 18.8
11 C.Young 2007 18.8
12 J.Niekro 1985 18.7
13 B.Witt 1987 18.7
14 N.Ryan 1978 17.6
15 M.Soto 1985 16.5
16 H.Nomo 1996 16.3
17 D.Eckersley 1976 16.1
18 J.Juden 1998 16.0
19 N.Ryan 1987 15.8
20 B.Witt 1986 15.7

As one more example, following is the top per-opportunity increase in stolen base probability for runners. The Terrance Gore 2016 season is fascinating – 11 steals in 17 G and 3 PA.

nameAbbv year delta_steal_rate
1 T.Raines 1981 0.608
2 R.LeFlore 1980 0.596
3 L.Brock 1974 0.583
4 T.Gore 2016 0.570
5 E.Davis 1986 0.539
6 A.Wiggins 1982 0.522
7 O.Moreno 1980 0.519
8 B.Hamilton 2013 0.517
9 R.Henderson 1982 0.515
10 C.Cedeno 1978 0.514
11 L.Lintz 1976 0.484
12 E.Miller 1981 0.480
13 A.Lewis 1967 0.469
14 B.Meacham 1983 0.468
15 M.Dilone 1977 0.465
16 H.Reynolds 1987 0.463
17 L.Lintz 1974 0.456
18 W.Wilson 1979 0.449
19 D.Hopkins 1975 0.447
20 D.Lopes 1976 0.440

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s