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Entries in A.J. Ellis (2)

Tuesday
Aug202013

The Tools of Intelligence: A look at NL contending catchers

One of the great statistical strides we have made in recent years is in appreciating the defensive metrics of catchers.

As Yadier Molina is being considered as an MVP candidate this season, it's not just because of his .334 batting average, but the difference he makes when he is behind the plate.

Here are the primary catchers for the NL contenders

National League Catchers
 GPAAVGOBPSLUGOPSK%BB%HR%Chas%ClStk%
Ryan Hanigan (CIN) 51 1740 .224 .282 .375 .657 23.1% 6.6% 3.3% 30.1% 34.5%
A. J. Ellis (LAD) 86 3089 .233 .297 .345 .642 20.8% 7.7% 2.0% 28.2% 31.8%
Russell Martin (PIT) 93 3422 .237 .312 .346 .657 20.7% 8.7% 2.1% 28.2% 32.4%
Brian McCann (ATL) 67 2407 .237 .293 .358 .651 22.0% 6.4% 2.1% 28.8% 33.0%
Devin Mesoraco (CIN) 74 2564 .244 .309 .386 .694 21.2% 7.8% 2.6% 29.5% 33.3%
Yadier Molina (STL) 99 3485 .246 .306 .364 .670 21.3% 6.9% 2.0% 28.9% 34.1%
Miguel Montero (ARI) 89 3353 .257 .317 .407 .725 19.6% 7.2% 3.0% 28.7% 32.3%

The biggest surprise?

For me, the biggest surprise was the effectiveness of Ryan Hanigan of the Reds.

First of all, when he's behind the plate he has the best batting average against of all the receivers being considered.

Next, his pitchers' strikeout rate is the highest of all the catchers and as you look at the chart you can see why: his called strike rate is the highest which means he's framing pitches well and even his chase rate is high which to me indicates his strength in staying steady behind the plate and not moving too much.

Of course, his home run allowed percentage is significantly higher than Yadier's.

Oh, don't forget that Hanigan is a .199 batter, 135 points less than the great Molina.

More stats to consider


  Age Tm G Inn Rtot PB WP SB CS CS%

A.J. Ellis 32 LAD 86 748.0 9 5 28 26 24 48%

Ryan Hanigan 32 CIN 51 429.2 4 3 17 10 11 52%

Russell Martin 30 PIT 93 817.1 8 4 35 36 29 45%

Brian McCann 29 ATL 67 593.2 7 1 11 32 13 29%

Devin Mesoraco 25 CIN 74 608.2 -1 3 20 35 11 24%

Yadier Molina 30 STL 99 843.0 10 2 16 18 14 44%

Miguel Montero 29 ARI 89 796.1 -0 7 39 22 12 35%
  LgAvg     15 124 0 1 5 7 3 29%
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/20/2013.
 

You have to appreciate Yaddy's Rtot which indicates his play has saved 10 runs above average. This shows his MVP caliber defense.

Additionally, having A.J. Ellis behind the plate is clearly a plus for the Dodgers and there is no question that while Russell Martin is not the league's MVP, his value to the Pirates should not be minimized.

Make sure you take notice of Hanigan's, Molina's, and Martin's rate of throwing out base runners.

Here are their pitcher/catcher ERAs and all Runs allowed over 9 innings

  Pitching Stats  
  Tm PA ERA RAvg
A.J. Ellis LAD 3089 3.06 3.42
Ryan Hanigan CIN 1740 3.37 3.54
Russell Martin PIT 3422 3.16 3.38
Brian McCann ATL 2407 2.94 3.24
Devin Mesoraco CIN 2564 3.31 3.59
Yadier Molina STL 3485 3.22 3.45
Miguel Montero ARI 3353 3.80 4.03
LgAvg   524 3.73 4.07
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/20/2013. 

While there might be concern about Brian McCann's rate of throwing out baserunners, check out his ERA.

Not only watch who's at the plate, watch who's behind the plate

We have six weeks of great regular season baseball ahead and watching the catcher play will only add to your enjoyment.

Monday
Jun042012

Inside A.J. Ellis' Breakout Season

The first-place Los Angeles Dodgers are enjoying MVP-caliber production from an up-the-middle position player. It's just coming from the guy no one would have expected. While Matt Kemp's hamstring has forced him to the DL for the second time this season, catcher A.J. Ellis has kept L.A.'s offense humming by hitting .315/.430/.503.

The 31-year-old Ellis, taken in the 18th round of the 2003 draft, was an on-base machine in the minors (career .406 OBP) but showed little power (.380 slugging percentage) and seemed destined to toil as a big league backup. Instead, he has grabbed the starting job by pairing his trademark plate discipline with surprising pop. Ellis has hit six home runs in 2012, already closing in on the career-best eight he managed in Double-A back in 2007. This unlikely slugger is killing pitchers who challenge him inside. Check out Ellis' slugging percentage by pitch location:

Ellis' slugging percentage by pitch location, 2012Ellis is slugging .789 versus inside pitches, trailing just Josh Hamilton (.891) and Josh Willingham (.871) among all MLB hitters. Five of Ellis' homers have come on inside offerings, including the Alex White sinker that the Dodgers backstop ripped over the left field fence yesterday afternoon against the Rockies.

It's highly unlikely that a 30-something catcher with little history of power hitting (19 shots in over 2,100 minor league plate appearances) can continue to channel vintage Mike Piazza. But Ellis' sharp eye should continue to make him an asset to the Dodgers. And if the power does persist, L.A. could have another up-the-middle All-Star on its squad.