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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 2:26 pm 
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ZelieMike wrote:
In this case, it appears the measurable, consistant ability is/was Chavez' defensive ability behind the plate that allowed the pitchers to feel comfortable throwing all their arsenal when they needed. That would I imagine, help over the course of several games, develop ... ahem... intangibles that could translate to "calling a great game there buddy!".

ZM

If that's the case, then there should be absolutely no reference to Chavez's "game-calling," as that is not what made Chavez the better choice. And if good defense is what leads to better game-calling, then this game-calling ability does not appear to be independent of the catcher's fielding defense. That further diminishes the existence of the so-called game-calling ability.

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 3:45 pm 
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OK guys now I need a definition of 'ahem...'

.... a word used when trying to make a point without offending another who might be sensitive to your position, might even disagree completely with it. ;) ;) ;)

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 4:25 pm 
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Jeez, No. 9. I encourage everyone to go and actually read my post, rather than No. 9's absurd caricature of it.

I'm not going to bother with the substance of the arguments, because there's really no point when someone won't argue honestly, but:

While he doesn't come right out and say it, the insinuation (IMO) is that anyone who suggests that game calling skills are possessed by a catcher is a damn idiot and far less intelligent than him because "all of the evidence" points otherwise.

Given that I DON'T SAY THIS, that's an interesting conclusion.

Mind you . . . from what I can tell, "all" of the evidence consists of a BP article from 1999 or 2000.

Do you know how to use Google? If you'd even tried, you would have seen that this is a subject that lots of people have researched, and that their research goes back years... come on, man. That's a completely unfair characterization.

What I find to be incredibly ironic are the conclusions reached that sending down Paulino is an indictment of the notion that catchers call good games. The logic apparently goes as follows: (1) Jim Tracy said that Paulino called a good game; (2) Paulino just got sent down; (3) pitchers this year felt uncomfortable throwing certain pitches in certain situations when Paulino was behind the plate . . . ergo, game calling is not a skill.

Not my argument. Not even close to being my argument.

Is it just me or are there some jumps in logic that are missing?

In that strawman? There sure are.

No. 9, if you're trying to troll here - good job! You got a reaction out of me.


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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 5:36 pm 
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For those of you who would like to actually read Charlie's post on this subject, as opposed to No. 9's second-hand depiction of it, here's the link:

http://www.bucsdugout.com/2008/6/8/5482 ... table-thro

Charlie's right: No. 9's characterization of Charlie's post is way off-base.

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:00 pm 
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charlie wrote:
I encourage everyone to go and actually read my post.


I encourage everyone to read it as well. And I stand by my opinions.

Here is a portion of what you wrote:
All the serious evidence suggests that there are not important differences in game calling ability among major league catchers. The only reason why this debate ever came up is because Jim Tracy just didn't like calling pitches from the dugout. (Paulino called his own pitches; Doumit didn't.)

So . . . the "only" reason why the issue of game calling ever came up was because Jim Tracy didn't like calling pitches from the dugout?

You also wrote this:
This is why it's generally not good to make arguments that fly in the face of decades of evidence. Players and managers and writers say things all the time for all kinds of reasons. It turns out that the likely reason why Paulino's game calling was such a big deal was because Jim Tracy was lazy. Remove the lazy guy, and all of a sudden nobody talks about the game calling issue anymore.

It is not an "honest" argument to conclude that you are essentially calling anyone who believes in "game calling" an idiot? Really? If not, then what exactly are you intending to convey in your first sentence? And you accuse me of not arguing honestly? As for being "honest" with your assessments, I note that you conveniently left out the portion of DK's notes which references the pitchers positive reaction to working with Chavez.

BTW, the acronym "IMO" means "in my opinion" and the word "insinuation" means to introduce in a subtle or covert manner. I'll translate: It was my opinion and remains my opinion that the post on your blog regarding "game calling" subtly or covertly (or . . . not coming right out and saying it) suggests that anyone who thinks that a skill of "game calling" exists is an idiot and far less intelligent than you.

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:00 pm 
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Willton wrote:
No. 9's characterization of Charlie's post is way off-base.


Shocking conclusion, counselor-to-be.

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:02 pm 
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ZelieMike wrote:
Hey, that was all about the "using stats mindlessly" thingy. It was intended to be (lightheartedly vis a vis smilies) a note of stats run amok. ZM


You do know that I was joking with you . . . . I laughed my butt off when I read your post.

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:16 pm 
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Willton wrote:
ZelieMike wrote:
In this case, it appears the measurable, consistant ability is/was Chavez' defensive ability behind the plate that allowed the pitchers to feel comfortable throwing all their arsenal when they needed.


If that's the case, then there should be absolutely no reference to Chavez's "game-calling," as that is not what made Chavez the better choice. And if good defense is what leads to better game-calling, then this game-calling ability does not appear to be independent of the catcher's fielding defense. That further diminishes the existence of the so-called game-calling ability.


That is not what I'm saying, and its not the conclusion you should reach. That Chavez' defense is good enough to allow the pitchers to be comfortable, allows him to call the game and have more options to call a good game.

Being good defensively does not in and of itself make a guy good at setting up and taking down hitters. Conversley, a good game caller can set up a hitter, it is just his defense (Paulino) does not allow the pitcher to use the best possible pitch for the situation.

Calling a good game is immently independent of defensive ability. That the two don't always mesh, and further, do not mesh with the pitcher always, is not a function of "good game calling ability". However, good game calling combined with good defense and a good pitching repetoire will almost always make a winner

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:22 pm 
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Substitute2 wrote:
3) The degree to which the catcher, the pitcher, the pitching coach, or the manager calls the game should not even be an issue in my mind. Surely, it should be a team decision as to how to pitch to all hitters based on their skill in certain situations and the skill of the individual pitcher, i.e. can he hit a sinker down and away? Can the pitcher throw a quality sinker down and away? Those decisions should have been made pre-game by all of those involved in the decision not at the spur of the moment by anyone of them.


Sub -
I think that you touch on an important issue but it goes deeper than your analysis. Pitching to a hitter is very much a cat-and-mouse game. It is a dynamic action/reaction/action/reaction game within a game. Those "mini games" happen not only over a course of ABs but also within a particular AB.
I'll use Freddy Sanchez as an example. The likely "book" on Sanchez would be that he has been susceptible to breaking pitches low and outside. The pre-game analysis may be to focus on getting Sanchez out with those pitches. However, Sanchez also has an idea that the book on him is too pound him low and away. So . . . Sanchez may "cheat" up in the batter's box a bit to have a chance to hit the breaking pitch before it goes low and away and becomes unhittable. A catcher seeing this (and the catcher is usually in the best position to see a hitter's adjustments) can call for a couple of inside fastballs which will be more difficult to catch up to when the hitter is looking for breaking pitches and with the hitter slightly up in the box.
Or, Sanchez might "cheat" slightly closer to home plate so that he can reach the outside breaking pitch. Again, seeing this, the catcher might call for inside fastballs to set up Sanchez.
A catcher's job is to not only understand the pre-game strategy for approaching a pariticular hitter but also to take copious mental notes of how the hitter is reacting to how he is being pitched. Also, it is not limited to calling pitches when on defense. It extends to the dugout between innings when the catcher and pitcher can talk about how the hitters are reacting.
On top of that, a good catcher should react "on the fly" to how the pitcher is throwing that particular day. If Snell's fastball is topping out at 89-90 mph, then you may have to forgo the strategy to get certain hitters out with fastballs. If a particular pitcher's "out" pitch is a breaking ball but on that particular day, the pitcher can't get it over for a strike and the other team is sitting on fastballs, you have to react "on the fly."
Just as hitters adjust to pitchers, pitchers adjust to hitters. Catchers are an invaluable asset when it comes to assisting a pitcher with what hitters may be trying to do with him. Its not just about calling a particular pitch at a particular time. It is far more detailed and dynamic.
That the Bucco pitchers feel more "comfortable" with Chavez very much speaks to their trust in his instincts and what he is calling for in a particular situation. When a pitcher is not comfortable with a catcher, does not trust what his catcher is calling, or frequently second guesses the calls, the chances of a successful outing are lessened.

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:35 pm 
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From the PPG last year (6/20/07):

"Believe me, I know Ronny Paulino's not performing offensively the way we saw him a year ago," Tracy said. "But do you compromise your pitching when you know there's a comfort level there with what's a major strength of our club? Are you going to compromise that for some added offense?"

Tracy added that he has seen improvement in Doumit's game-calling this season vs. last, but he stressed the importance of making adjustments once the starting pitcher is facing the lineup for the second or third time.

"That's a big part of the craft," Tracy said.

The Pirates could simply call the game from the dugout when Doumit catches, of course, as many teams do. But Tracy's preference, as he reiterated, is to have the catcher do it because of his unique vantage point.

"No one sees the pitches the way the catcher does," Tracy said. "No one sees better how the batter moves his feet, which pitches are fooling him, which ones aren't working. You can't see it from anywhere else in the stadium."

Doumit, who started in right field last night, expressed optimism that his game-calling will become a strength. But he also acknowledged it can get better.

"I'd like to think it's coming along OK," he said. "I've been watching a lot more film about opposing team's hitters than I have in the past, and I've been working with our pitchers to find out how they want to approach each guy. I've worked hard at it."

Asked if he might be more comfortable having the game called from the bench, Doumit replied, "You know what? To be honest with you, sometimes I do get stuck. I think every catcher does, with so much going on. Obviously, I don't want to look over there every single pitch. But there are some times when I do need help."

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Last edited by No. 9 on Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:39 pm 
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From the Tribune-Review (5/25/08):

Although catchers Ronny Paulino and Ryan Doumit don't have a long track record in the majors, Pirates manager John Russell trusts them to call the games behind the plate.
"For the most part, they're pretty much on their own," Russell said. "Occasionally, they need ... I wouldn't say help, but they'll look over for ideas."

Before every game, the coaches huddle with that day's catcher and pitcher to come up with a strategy for how to approach batters in various situations.

"One of the things we try to teach them is, when in doubt, go with your strengths," Russell said. "We've pretty much left them to stay with the game plan, and they've done pretty well with it."

A good catcher must be in tune with the pitcher and know what pitches are working -- and, more importantly, which ones aren't. The catcher also must be clued in to the strengths, weaknesses and habits of different batters.
Combined, Paulino and Doumit have caught fewer than 400 games in the majors. But they already are building a vast mental inventory of batters, which is necessary for success.

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:40 pm 
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[
That the Bucco pitchers feel more "comfortable" with Chavez very much speaks to their trust in his instincts and what he is calling for in a particular situation. When a pitcher is not comfortable with a catcher, does not trust what his catcher is calling, or frequently second guesses the calls, the chances of a successful outing are lessened.[/quote]

This goes for any pitcher, any time, any place.

Also, no matter what the catcher calls, in most situations, the pitcher has a right to shake it off. After all, it his name that will have a W or an L next to it in the boxscore.


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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:27 am 
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I have tried to read this thread a couple of times and I still am confused about what is the actual argument here.

Is it that some of you don't believe that a catchers game calling ability means anything?

I would assume that before the game the pitcher and catcher would get together to discuss how they were going to attack each hitter and call the game accordingly, adjusting when the hitters adjust. This I would think defines game calling ability. If a catcher cannot adjust to the hitters during the game, then he probably has poor game calling ability.

On a side note: The online baseball simulation I play at http://www.whatifsports.com called Hardball Dynasty, one of the major attributes to a good catcher is something labeled PC(Pitch Calling), This attribute works with the Pitchers attributes to enhance the actual pitching success. So there are some other folks out there that believe that "game calling" is important.


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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:57 am 
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Piratefan13 wrote:
I have tried to read this thread a couple of times and I still am confused about what is the actual argument here.

Is it that some of you don't believe that a catchers game calling ability means anything?

In a word, yes. The long answer is that if there actually is a catcher's game-calling ability, it does not appear to affect the game in a measurable way. The evidence over the past 30 years has shown that there is no distinct difference between one catcher's game-calling ability and another catcher's game-calling ability. The results show that the perceived effects of a catcher's game-calling ability compared to the perceived effects of another's game-calling ability fluctuate randomly from year to year. That's not evidence of a skill -- that's evidence of randomness.

Some have said that a catcher's game-calling severely affects pitching, and often point to their own experiences in little league, high school, and college ball. That's all well and good, but that does not show that such a skill is important at the Major League level. The evidence shows that if such a skill exists in the lower leagues, it plateaus at the professional level, rendering it negligible from one catcher to another.

Some have also said that game-calling matters, but it just doesn't show up in a tangible way. If that's so, then why is it important? If the effects of game-calling do not show up consistently in the measurable results that determine who wins and loses, then it's not worth the time people spend talking about it.

PirateFan13 wrote:
I would assume that before the game the pitcher and catcher would get together to discuss how they were going to attack each hitter and call the game accordingly, adjusting when the hitters adjust. This I would think defines game calling ability. If a catcher cannot adjust to the hitters during the game, then he probably has poor game calling ability.

But is that really an ability? Is a catcher's ability to communicate with his pitcher so valuable as to be worthy of hundreds of thousands, let alone millions, of dollars in salary? If so, why don't we just hire Dr. Phil to catch?

If such a game-calling ability were an ability that was capable of being repeated, it would show up in the results consistently. However, the evidence available distinctly shows that if there is a game-calling ability, it is not a repeatable skill.

PirateFan13 wrote:
On a side note: The online baseball simulation I play at http://www.whatifsports.com called Hardball Dynasty, one of the major attributes to a good catcher is something labeled PC(Pitch Calling), This attribute works with the Pitchers attributes to enhance the actual pitching success. So there are some other folks out there that believe that "game calling" is important.

I would hardly call a video game designer an authority on the existence of baseball skills. What a video game designer decides to incorporate into his video game is hardly conclusive or even credibly suggestive as to the existence of such a skill.

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:30 pm 
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The statistical "evidence" which some cite to be authoritative or dispositive is fundamentally flawed and is grossly deficient in accounting for the variables involved with what is actually happening on the field of play.

A catcher may call a great game when he helps a struggling pitcher through a day where his "stuff" is not there against a great hitting team and the other team scores 5 runs.

A catcher may make some bad decisions and call a lousy game if his pitcher has electric stuff but gives up 3 runs to a mediocre hitting team.

Black and white numbers can't possibly tell the whole story or anything close to the full picture.

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:17 pm 
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Willton wrote:
Piratefan13 wrote:
I have tried to read this thread a couple of times and I still am confused about what is the actual argument here.

Is it that some of you don't believe that a catchers game calling ability means anything?

In a word, yes. The long answer is that if there actually is a catcher's game-calling ability, it does not appear to affect the game in a measurable way. The evidence over the past 30 years has shown that there is no distinct difference between one catcher's game-calling ability and another catcher's game-calling ability. The results show that the perceived effects of a catcher's game-calling ability compared to the perceived effects of another's game-calling ability fluctuate randomly from year to year. That's not evidence of a skill -- that's evidence of randomness.

Some have said that a catcher's game-calling severely affects pitching, and often point to their own experiences in little league, high school, and college ball. That's all well and good, but that does not show that such a skill is important at the Major League level. The evidence shows that if such a skill exists in the lower leagues, it plateaus at the professional level, rendering it negligible from one catcher to another.

Some have also said that game-calling matters, but it just doesn't show up in a tangible way. If that's so, then why is it important? If the effects of game-calling do not show up consistently in the measurable results that determine who wins and loses, then it's not worth the time people spend talking about it.

PirateFan13 wrote:
I would assume that before the game the pitcher and catcher would get together to discuss how they were going to attack each hitter and call the game accordingly, adjusting when the hitters adjust. This I would think defines game calling ability. If a catcher cannot adjust to the hitters during the game, then he probably has poor game calling ability.

But is that really an ability? Is a catcher's ability to communicate with his pitcher so valuable as to be worthy of hundreds of thousands, let alone millions, of dollars in salary? If so, why don't we just hire Dr. Phil to catch?

If such a game-calling ability were an ability that was capable of being repeated, it would show up in the results consistently. However, the evidence available distinctly shows that if there is a game-calling ability, it is not a repeatable skill.

PirateFan13 wrote:
On a side note: The online baseball simulation I play at http://www.whatifsports.com called Hardball Dynasty, one of the major attributes to a good catcher is something labeled PC(Pitch Calling), This attribute works with the Pitchers attributes to enhance the actual pitching success. So there are some other folks out there that believe that "game calling" is important.

I would hardly call a video game designer an authority on the existence of baseball skills. What a video game designer decides to incorporate into his video game is hardly conclusive or even credibly suggestive as to the existence of such a skill.


For one, its not a "video game", its a vast baseball simulation that uses "attributes" as a basis to simulate seasons. And I did not argue that the "video game" was the authority, I merely stated that the inclusion of "Pitch Calling" in catchers attributes is clear evidence that game calling or pitch calling for a catcher is an authoritative ability.

Ability is defined as: A natural or acquired skill or talent.

Does a rookie pitcher, just called up, call his own game? Who calls the game?

Those are clear enough reasons for me to believe that some catchers are better than others at "calling a game."


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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:58 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
The statistical "evidence" which some cite to be authoritative or dispositive is fundamentally flawed and is grossly deficient in accounting for the variables involved with what is actually happening on the field of play.

How is the evidence fundamentally flawed? Why and how is it grossly deficient in accounting for these "variables?" Furthermore, what are these variables?

No. 9 wrote:
A catcher may call a great game when he helps a struggling pitcher through a day where his "stuff" is not there against a great hitting team and the other team scores 5 runs.

A catcher may make some bad decisions and call a lousy game if his pitcher has electric stuff but gives up 3 runs to a mediocre hitting team.

Black and white numbers can't possibly tell the whole story or anything close to the full picture.

So a good catcher may help a pitcher through a bad day while a bad catcher may unduly harm a pitcher who's having an excellent day. Okay, that's understandable, but how does the evidence not capture that? A hitter like Jason Bay has good days and bad days, and yet no one complains that looking had his hitting averages is fundamentally flawed. What's wrong with treating those types of games as part of a greater whole?

Your claim is unconvincing. Yes, all baseball players have good days and bad days, but in terms of measuring a skill like power hitting, basestealing, and striking batters out, those outliers tend to even out in the long run. Once again, your focus on the short term misses the bigger picture.

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Last edited by Willton on Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:04 pm 
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Piratefan13 wrote:
Ability is defined as: A natural or acquired skill or talent.

Does a rookie pitcher, just called up, call his own game? Who calls the game?

Those are clear enough reasons for me to believe that some catchers are better than others at "calling a game."


PF13:

No one is denying that a catcher is physically involved in calling a game. So, from a purely semantic point of view, yes, catchers have the ability to call a game. What is in dispute is whether or not some catchers can do it inherently better than others, on a regular, repeatable basis, and how this skill should be valued. Would you sacrifice 25 homeruns from your catcher to get "good game calling"? How about 5 HR's? 30 points in batting average? 10 more passed balls?

I tend to think that by the time players reach MLB, they pretty much are all about equal in understanding how to call a game and how to work a batter. The biggest determinant is how well they work with pitchers, or how well the pitchers work with them. I believe that sort of chemistry can be developed in most instances, or at least developed enough to successfully play a game of baseball, and would not want to sacrifice any offense or defense in order to get a "good game-caller".

Also, I must be missing something from your point. What, exactly led you to the conclusion that some catchers are better than others at game calling?


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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:09 pm 
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Piratefan13 wrote:
For one, its not a "video game", its a vast baseball simulation that uses "attributes" as a basis to simulate seasons. And I did not argue that the "video game" was the authority, I merely stated that the inclusion of "Pitch Calling" in catchers attributes is clear evidence that game calling or pitch calling for a catcher is an authoritative ability.

No, it's not - it's only clear evidence that the designer of this baseball simulation thinks that pitch calling is an "authoritative ability." The simulation designer could have included "Ability to Fly" as part of a fielder's attributes and it still would not be evidence of a fielder's actual ability to fly.

Piratefan13 wrote:
Ability is defined as: A natural or acquired skill or talent.

Does a rookie pitcher, just called up, call his own game? Who calls the game?

Those are clear enough reasons for me to believe that some catchers are better than others at "calling a game."

Fine, then how do we find this information out? How are we supposed figure out who the best game callers are if the actual game results don't reflect such an ability?

And, assuming you can find a way to determine who the best game callers are, then there's the bigger question: how are we supposed to value this ability? In other words, how much offensive ability and defensive ability can a team responsibly give up at the catcher's spot in order to attain this unmeasurable game-calling ability?

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 Post subject: Re: From DK's notebook the other day
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:28 pm 
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Location: Bowie, Md
BBF wrote:
Piratefan13 wrote:
Ability is defined as: A natural or acquired skill or talent.

Does a rookie pitcher, just called up, call his own game? Who calls the game?

Those are clear enough reasons for me to believe that some catchers are better than others at "calling a game."


PF13:

No one is denying that a catcher is physically involved in calling a game. So, from a purely semantic point of view, yes, catchers have the ability to call a game. What is in dispute is whether or not some catchers can do it inherently better than others, on a regular, repeatable basis, and how this skill should be valued. Would you sacrifice 25 homeruns from your catcher to get "good game calling"? How about 5 HR's? 30 points in batting average? 10 more passed balls?

I tend to think that by the time players reach MLB, they pretty much are all about equal in understanding how to call a game and how to work a batter. The biggest determinant is how well they work with pitchers, or how well the pitchers work with them. I believe that sort of chemistry can be developed in most instances, or at least developed enough to successfully play a game of baseball, and would not want to sacrifice any offense or defense in order to get a "good game-caller".

Also, I must be missing something from your point. What, exactly led you to the conclusion that some catchers are better than others at game calling?



The same conclusion that some catchers are better at hitting than others, better at fielding than others. Any athlete is better than another or is lesser than someone else. I would find "game calling" no different. Some catchers may prepare better than others and that makes them better. I would hope not to find a 1st yr catcher equal to a 10 yr vet at calling a game. The 10 yr vet simply knows more and has aquired knowledge or learned opposing batters tendencies. Additionally, batters adjust from year to year, succesful catchers do the same.

I must be completely missing the whole point here because I find it interesting that guys of your baseball knowledge would dismiss "game calling" as impractible.


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