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Maybe it’s the rush of the holiday season with two kids or the fact that some major cash is flowing in free agency, but I feel like this year’s offseason is just whizzing by. This will be the last sort of “stat review” for SAGNOF before I head into the territory of value plays for steals in 2014. This post will lay out some of the best and worst catchers in terms of their caught stealing percentages (CS%). Keep in mind that pitchers have a lot to do with holding baserunners as well, and you can find my previous post on the best and worst pitchers against the stolen base here at Razzball. A quick note on the catcher tables – I sorted them by qualified and non-qualified catchers. “Qualified” catchers played more than 1/2 of their team’s games, while “non-qualified” catchers played less than that. Catchers who split times between two teams, like Kurt Suzuki, also end up on the “non-qualified” list. The league average caught stealing percentage in 2013 was 28%, and that hasn’t really changed much over the last 3 years (27% in 2012, 28% in 2011). Last but not least, consider that playing time situations can fluctuate with free agent signings and trades, creating new opportunities for previously non-qualified catchers as the offseason transactions continue. Green columns indicate guys that are easy to run against, and red columns designate the toughest to run against:

2013 Catcher CS% (Qualified – >81 Games Played)
Player Games 2013 CS% Player Games 2013 CS%
A Avila 96 17% A Ellis 109 44%
C Iannetta 102 19% Y Molina 128 44%
J Saltalamacchia 111 21% R Martin 117 40%
J Lucroy 122 22% M Wieters 134 35%
J Arencibia 115 25% S Perez 126 35%
B McCann 91 24% A Pierzynski 111 33%
J Castro 95 25% M Montero 111 33%
C Ruiz 83 25% C Stewart 97 32%
B Posey 119 30%
W Castillo 107 30%
D Mesoraco 84 29%

Notes: While the Angels will remain an easy target with Chris Iannetta  behind the plate, the Red Sox should really improve their situation by bringing in A.J. Pierzynski. He’s a 12% improvement over Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who takes his services to Miami in 2014. By the way, Saltalamacchia and his crazy long name really screws with my OCD when I’m creating tables of data. A.J. Ellis and Yadier Molina will stay put and should continue making the Dodgers and Cardinals tough to run against. What’s interesting about Russell Martin (and I mentioned this in my mid-season review last year) is that his 40% is actually 9% higher than the Pirates as a team, so if you are going to stream steals against Pittsburgh, try to wait for Martin’s day off. Now onto what I find to be the more interesting table…the non-qualifieds…

2013 Catcher CS% (Non-Qualified – <81 Games Played)
Player Games 2013 CS% Player Games 2013 CS%
J Montero 25 4% R Hanigan 66  46%
Y Grandal 26 8% J Pinto 18 46%
K Suzuki 82 12% Y Gomes 79 41%
J Jaso 42 13% D Ross 33 41%
M Zunino 48 18% C Herrmann 23 35%
C Santana 81 18% J Mathis 70 33%
R Doumit 43 20% E Gattis 38 33%
T D’Arnaud 30 21% J Phegley 59 30%
T Flowers 77 24% G Soto 49 29%
B Pena 55 24% W Ramos 77 29%

Notes:  I tried to limit this table to guys I think will actually play a fair amount in 2014 (no Mauer, for example). With the departure of Ryan Hanigan in Cincy, Brayan Pena will likely back up Devin Mesoraco. Mesoraco is about league average, while Pena may be exploited. Meanwhile, Hanigan heads to Tampa where he will most likely platoon with Jose Molina and improve the Rays’ ability to catch basestealers. Minnesota is kind of interesting. With Joe Mauer shifting to first, they have three options in Ryan Doumit, Josmil Pinto, and Chris Herrmann. While Pinto and Herrmann have less experience, they both have better percentages than Doumit. I actually think Pinto has a decent shot at the lion’s share of playing time in the Twin Cities. As a right handed bat, David Ross should create a nice platoon with lefty A.J. Pierzynski in Boston, and both can catch a decent amount of basestealers. Rookies Mike Zunino, Travis D’Arnaud, and Yasmani Grandal fall on the “green light” side of this list, although none of them played in more than 50 games. Lastly…Yan Gomes! Stop reading here if you play in a league with me, because I am taking Gomes whenever possible in 2014. Anyway, for the purposes of this post, he’s quite good at nabbing baserunners too.

As usual, it is a lot of fun looking through all these numbers and I hope this is somewhat helpful. If you have any questions about specific catchers, just let me know in the comments or hit me up on the Twittering Machine and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

If you’re a tweeter on Twitter, you can follow Mike @643ball

  1. the rock says:
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    Evan Gattis. NL MVP. Want to put it in print. I like this guys story. looks like a hard working guy that doesn’t take any plays off. Hitting in the middle of a really good Braves lineup and in a division with weak pitching teams. 30+ hr and 100 RBI’s not out of the question. In terms of fantasy he has OF eligibility so that’s a plus.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      @the rock: totes mcgoats. Gattis should be a nice play this year at catcher.

  2. PublicEnemy#1 says:
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    Maybe waiting for RMartin’s day off in 2014 isn’t such a good idea. His recently acquired backup, Chris Stewart makes your list of the tougher guys to run against. Not only that, but Stewart also owns a career 33% CS rate vs. Martin’s career CS rate of 31%. In fact, when comparing the two, it’s interesting to note that they both recently played for the Yankees. In 2011 and 2012, Martin had CS rates of 30% and 24% respectively with the Yanks. Stewart’s two years in pinstripes saw him put up a 23% CS rate as Martin’s backup in 2012 and the 32% CS rate in 2012 you’ve noted above. But, when out of the pinstripes, Stewart actually caught 39% of runners in a significant amount of attempts in 2011 wearing a Giants uniform. Both Martin and Stewart can likely attribute their CS% dips in pinstripes to a Yankee pitching philosophy of focusing more on delivering pitches vs. holding runners on.

  3. PublicEnemy#1 says:
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    *2013 you’ve noted above…. Damn chubby fingers on the iPhone qwerty board!

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      @PublicEnemy#1: ha! fatfinger happens to me all the time too. You make two great points, PublicEnemy…first about the Stewart acquisition and also about how the teams’ philosophies play into all of this…thanks for reading and for the thoughtful comment :D

      • PublicEnemy#1 says:
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        @Mike: Thanks, Mike. I appreciate the statistical analysis work you do.

  4. Wake Up says:
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    Looks like Anibal to Avila is going to be the Energizer Bunny Battery…keep going and going and going…

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      @Wake Up: absolutely! ;) Jose Molina could steal against those two

      • Wake Up says:
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        @Mike: Why…cuz he’s Latino? Das Racist…

  5. TheNewGuy says:
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    Got a trade offer I need to respond to sharpish if I want a shot at getting him.

    Been working a deal for B Hamilton in my keeper league. I offered one pitching prospect but he’s countered with Rosenthal and R Stephenson. Big price to pay but I’d be getting a potential category winning speedster, and I really need another bat on my farm. Take the deal or try to whittle it down to something less?

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      @TheNewGuy: I’d go for it. I am all for trading pitching prospects, even the really good ones like Stephenson, and while Rosenthal is going to be a great closer, he’s still just a closer. Just my two cents…I always bet on the bats when dealing with unknowns…

  6. costaricanchata says:
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    a little belated , but congrats on the birth of your daughter !

    not to make more work for you , but , any intention of expanding the scope to
    include pitchers … especially those that prove to be a statistical anomaly to
    these findings ?
    for instance :
    ellis cs rate dips to 20% when greinke is on the mound … that sort of shizz .
    ^^
    (completely made-up stat) .

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      @costaricanchata: that’s really interesting. might be a cool post to do at the midway point this summer when the batteries are set…thanks for the idea Costa!

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      @costaricanchata: thanks! Her and I already watch a lot of MLB network reruns..poor kid haha!

  7. TheNewGuy says:
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    Greys west coast and Scott’s not to sharp on the replies always, so thinking youre my best shot at a quick response!

    Trade negotiations, another team is after the same player I am too (B Hamilton) so I need to decide this one quick. As part of a multiplayer deal, I’d be getting either Iwakuma ($3) or Garza ($2). Both nice players at nice prices, who would you rather have?

      • TheNewGuy says:
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        @Mike: My thinking too, a really darn good underappreciated first year when I look at the numbers.

        He’s not responded yet so I’ve got a bit of time. Here’s the deal in full:

        B Hamilton & Iwakuma ($3) & B Jackson (throw-away)
        FOR Rosenthal & Stephenson & Estrada ($9) (throw-away)

        Including a throw-away player each simply to balance the books, with Iwakuma being the only major league player of value on our squads. So im basically getting Billy the kid for Rosenthal, and a potential keeper in Iwakuma at $3 for Stephenson. I could keep Iwakuma for a year at $6 which isn’t bad at all.

        Like the deal?

        • Mike

          Mike says:
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          @TheNewGuy: yup, I like it. Stephenson is still a ways away and a lot can happen especially with pitching prospects. Iwakuma has shown he can be successful and that’s a nice price to keep him at. Hamilton could be a bust, sure, but he could also win you a roto category, and I think that is a risk worth taking, especially when you are really only giving up a closer in return. Nice work :D

  8. Count de Monetball says:
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    MIKE!!! I am just now getting time to respond. Thanks for the work. For some reason, I just love the Steals side of SAGNOF. Like costaricanchata said earlier, I’m not trying to give you more work, I was just wondering, if it would be reasonably easy (read not easy at all, that’s why I want you to do it for me) to put together some sort of chart near the end of spring training highlighting the projected “red” and “green” teams. I want to get out in front early on in steals by streaming SAGNOF early in the season. Is that something you could do? Maybe something not too complicated like weight average the CS% of the main two catchers on each team and put it in a table. If you put one like that together, that would be awesome so I could target speed to stream in the early part of the season without making moves every day – we have 100 moves total for the season :( Just a thought… Reading your posts are so thought provoking (especially when it pertains to additional statistical analysis). Sorry, kinda obsessed with steals right now..

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      @Count de Monetball: Thanks, Count! My plan is to do a few posts on individual players leading up to the season, but yes, I’m hoping to put together a table based on last year’s numbers and this year’s catchers prior to the season. I just need to wait until we get a little closer and I have a better idea of who will be in what roles for each team before I can project. Then we can look at some of the actual stats at the quarter pole and midseason. Thanks for reading, glad you are enjoying the posts! ;D

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