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St. Louis Cardinals “catcher’s ERAs”

Yesterday, we compared Jason Motte’s 2012 results as the closer of the St. Louis Cardinals to other ninth-inning men across Major League Baseball.

Reader Nutlaw took my point about Motte’s tied-for-worst nine home runs allowed this season and dug a bit deeper. He discovered that Motte’s last five home runs given up occurred with reserve catcher Tony Cruz behind the plate.

I checked with researcher Tom Orf as to the granularity of pitching stats broken out by catchers. He was able to provide the following view of the Cardinals catching corps since Molina became a major leaguer in 2004.

Pitching Stats Pitching Stats
Through 9/9 Age PA PA% ERA RAvg Age PA PA% ERA RAvg
2012 Yadier Molina 29 4151 77.7% 3.66 3.97 2007 Yadier Molina 24 3729 59.4% 4.29 4.78
2012 Tony Cruz 25 1153 21.6% 4.38 4.58 2007 Gary Bennett 35 1648 26.2% 5.20 5.88
2012 Bryan Anderson 25 39 0.7% 4.50 4.50 2007 Kelly Stinnett 37 902 14.4% 5.14 5.76
2012 League Average 3.98 4.34 2007 Brian Esposito 28 4 0.1% 0.00 0.00
2012 Team Total 5343 100.0% 3.82 4.10 2007 League Average 4.43 4.80
2007 Team Total 6283 100.0% 4.65 5.20
Pitching Stats
Age PA PA% ERA RAvg Pitching Stats
2011 Yadier Molina 28 4896 78.8% 3.80 4.32 Age PA PA% ERA RAvg
2011 Gerald Laird 31 900 14.5% 3.80 4.31 2006 Yadier Molina 23 4477 72.3% 4.52 4.76
2011 Tony Cruz 24 415 6.7% 3.00 3.45 2006 Gary Bennett 34 1691 27.3% 4.60 4.90
2011 League Average 3.81 4.17 2006 Mike Rose 29 28 0.5% 3.86 3.86
2011 Team Total 6211 100.0% 3.74 4.26 2006 League Average 4.49 4.88
2006 Team Total 6196 100.0% 4.54 4.80
Pitching Stats
Age PA PA% ERA RAvg Pitching Stats
2010 Yadier Molina 27 4735 77.2% 3.23 3.63 Age PA PA% ERA RAvg
2010 Jason LaRue 36 688 11.2% 5.45 5.87 2005 Yadier Molina 22 3975 65.7% 3.39 3.80
2010 Matt Pagnozzi 27 440 7.2% 3.06 3.40 2005 Einar Diaz 32 1303 21.5% 3.76 4.39
2010 Bryan Anderson 23 257 4.2% 6.38 6.87 2005 Mike Mahoney 32 769 12.7% 3.56 3.99
2010 Steven Hill 25 15 0.2% 2.25 2.25 2005 League Average 4.22 4.57
2010 Nick Stavinoha 28 2 0.0% 27.00 27.00 2005 Team Total 6047 100.0% 3.49 3.95
2010 League Average 4.02 4.40
2010 Team Total 6137 100.0% 3.57 3.97 Pitching Stats
Pitching Stats 2004 Mike Matheny 33 4120 67.5% 3.88 4.21
Age PA PA% ERA RAvg 2004 Yadier Molina 21 1445 23.7% 3.64 3.98
2009 Yadier Molina 26 4931 81.0% 3.48 3.72 2004 Cody McKay 30 539 8.8% 3.00 3.41
2009 Jason LaRue 35 1109 18.2% 4.46 5.28 2004 League Average 4.30 4.69
2009 Matt Pagnozzi 26 39 0.6% 3.00 3.00 2004 Team Total 6104 100.0% 3.75 4.08
2009 David Freese 26 8 0.1% 18.00 18.00
2009 League Average 4.19 4.53
2009 Team Total 6087 100.0% 3.66 4.00
Pitching Stats
2008 Yadier Molina 25 4329 69.1% 4.20 4.49
2008 Jason LaRue 34 1758 28.1% 4.24 4.57
2008 Mark Johnson 32 177 2.8% 3.38 3.60
League Average 4.29 4.66
Team Total 6264 100.0% 4.19 4.49

My first observation is that Molina has caught about the same share of opposing hitter plate appearances this season as he did in the last three or four years – just short of 80 percent.

However, apparently because there has been no third catcher this season until very recently, Cruz has been behind the plate for more plate appearances than the normal Cardinal reserve – at least recently. His 21.7% rate is the most for the Cardinals non-starter since Jason LaRue in 2008.

Unfortunately, we cannot see number of home runs allowed or total runs scored while each catcher was behind the plate. We can tell the overall result. Cruz’ “catcher’s ERA” of 4.38 is not only higher than Molina’s, it is above the league average.

That is not unusual, however. While Gerald Laird’s catcher’s ERA last season was equivalent to Molina’s, just as often, the backup catcher had a much higher catcher’s ERA than Molina.

The far right column includes unearned runs. I don’t have any conclusions to draw about that, other than to note that Cruz’ numbers do not seem out of line.

In summary, I don’t see enough here to hang anything more on Cruz. Even if more home runs are being scored during his time in the game, which we don’t know, total runs scored don’t look unusual.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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34 Responses to “St. Louis Cardinals “catcher’s ERAs””

  1. crdswmn says:

    I just got home from chasing preschoolers all day so I am only here in exhausted form. My response to all this is what does this “catchers ERA” entail anyway? Is it just a measure of runs scored while the catcher was behind the plate or is there some tweaking done to account for those things that a catcher does in particular? If it is just straight runs scored, then I don’t see how it tells anything about the catcher, because how do you know it wasn’t mostly the result of the way the pitcher threw the pitch?

  2. blingboy says:

    There may be a difference in how a game is called by the catcher during innings 1-8 and in a ninth inning save situation. Just like closing is a specialty, calling for a closer may require something more. Perhaps Cruz is not there yet.

  3. blingboy says:

    Same lineup as yesterday except Skip for DD.

    Beltran hitting 2nd again. Hopefully, Adam will pitch a complete game and MM will never have to decide anything.

  4. Nutlaw says:

    Very interesting data! Thanks for getting it pulled together!

    I think that this mass of data would suggest that Molina is a more effective catcher than other Cardinal options throughout his career (besides Laird and maybe Pagnozzi), unless we think that the backup catchers were getting saddled with worse pitchers.

    I’m very certain that Cruz (or whoever calls pitches for him?) is choosing the wrong ones for Motte. That doesn’t mean that he’s choosing the wrong ones for anyone else. Do we know Motte’s catcher by catcher data? (This season or career?)

  5. crdswmn says:

    The team looks like the walking dead out there. They’re done.

    • blingboy says:

      Brain dead certainly.

      Early on Volquez was having trouble throwing strikes but our hitters just wouldn’t take advantage of it by making him throw a stike. In the most glaring example he had thrown 4 straight to walk Freese and load the bases, then threw one to Yadi. So standing there with the sacks jammed, a 1-0 count against a guy who had thrown 5 balls in a row, Yadi doesn’t take one but instead chases a borderline low one. Then does the same on the next one. Unbelievable.

      Other examples were plentiful early on. I’m convinced Yadi, and the others, had no idea Volquez was struggling to throw strikes. There is no other explaination. Obviously, niether they, nor anyone else was paying attention and had their head in the game.

      Later, no one should have had to tell Wainy, or Yadi for that matter, to pitch around the 8th hitter and face Volquez, instead of giving up a triple. Its not like his command and control were dead on.

      Skip has a very strong arm, so why doesn’t he play back a few steps so as to increase his range? It wouldn’t hurt Freese to do the same.

      Perhaps Jackson will get a shot now, after Kozma’s error opened the flood gate.

  6. kray66 says:

    In an effort to distract from St. Louis again, Springfield won 5-0 last night with a great outing from Carlos Martinez. I will be going to the game tonight, so hopefully they can head to Frisco up 2-0.

    Also, TLR was in Springfield and met with the players after the game. Still not completely sure the official reason, but a cool thing for them either way.

  7. blingboy says:

    “The Cardinals have committed 50 errors since July 1 and, as was the case Tuesday, have been forgiven several more due to their infielders’ limited range.”

    Given the organizational focus on pitch to contact /ground ball for several years, at least, the persistance of the infield defensive issue is illogical. An organizational disconnect? It seems obvious the first cannot work without the last.

    Perhaps the emergence of Jay looking like he can lead off will eliminate the necessity for having a middle infielder that can also do that too. That might simplify things somewhat. A hot SS batting 8th would not be a non-starter. But, of course, that hasn’t translated into seeing what we have in Jackson.

  8. blingboy says:

    MCarp in RF, DD at 2nd, air mail boy at SS (again). (I am expecting Matheny to explain how Craig was told to hold back on his verticle leaping to protect the knee. I swear I would not be at all surprised.) (To be fair, that will just be the explaination given to him to pass along.)

    There is nothing MCarp can do tonight, nothing at all, that will get him more playing time at the expense of .260 boy. I can give you 13 million reasons why, none having to do with winning.

    Go Birds!!!!

    And do not blame beer for Bobby Valentine, it was the chicken.

    • crdswmn says:

      Like I said, Matheny will continue to play Kozma because that’s what he does. And he is going to start Garcia on Saturday (per Strauss today) come hell or high water. Can’t let winning the game stand in the way of Garcia’s confidence, psyche, mojo, whatever. Thank you Sigmund Freud Matheny.

    • Nutlaw says:

      There’s maybe nothing that Carpenter can do to get an every day job, but going 2 for 4 with a HR and looking like the only bat worth a darn on the team has to be a step in the right direction.

  9. blingboy says:

    I love the part about bunting with the .320 hitter who has been one of the better clutch hitters. They teach that at manager school now, I guess.

  10. Bw52 says:

    Stick a fork in them. at this rate i will be surprised to see the team win 6 more games to stay .500.

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