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Terrerobytes: Pitch-framing studies delight with what we didn't know

Plus: The free agency of James Shields is deconstructed, Hector Olivera looks legit, and more

Here's a pitch Brad Ausmus couldn't frame.
Here's a pitch Brad Ausmus couldn't frame.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

As a sabermetrically inclined baseball fan, it's been a pleasure to read about catchers and pitch-framing over the last several years -- the theorizing, the case-building, the peer review, the acceptance, the refinement and the application with the present, future and past in mind.

It's been a big week in that regard. Over at Baseball Prospectus, Jonathan Judge, Harry Pavlidis and Dan Brooks posted their proposal to shift their pitch-framing model to "Called Strikes Above Average," which helps account for all parties involved in the determination of a pitch:

This new model allows simultaneous consideration of pitcher, catcher, batter, umpire, PITCHf/x, and other data for each taken pitch over the course of a season, and by controlling for each of their respective contributions will predict how many called strikes above (or below) average each such participant was worth during a particular season. Although PITCHf/x data is preferable when available, the mixed model (in a revised, "Retro" form) will allow us to live without it when need be, permitting us to project regressed framing of catchers all the way back to 1988, when pitch counts were first officially tracked.[1] This same technique developed for Retrosheet can also be applied to recent minor-league data to provide an even deeper view into the progression and value of this skill.

On the heels of that, Ben Lindbergh wrote an excellent article at Grantland summarizing his first exposure to the pitch-framing argument as a baseball operations intern for the Yankees in 2009, and finding a representative for the new elements of CSAA like historically good framers (he talks to Brad Ausmus), well-regarded minor leaguers (Austin Hedges) and pitchers who got those called strikes over the years (Dennis Eckersley).

Ausmus is a guy ahead of his time -- the Astros played him way more than his offensive contributions seemed to warrant, and outside analysts savaged the decision-makers accordingly. Now, they realize the Astros might have had reasons they never shared.

Along related lines, this tweet from months ago has stuck with me:

It's fun knowing more, even if you end up feeling like you know less, because there's still always going to be a need for good questions, and those good questions are only going to be better.


Continuing the theme of things we'll never quite know, Jeff Passan provided an inside look into James Shields' longer-than-expected negotiations for less-than-expected money, and Shields' agent provided a rebuttal.

I'm looking forward to seeing what Hector Olivera does in the big leagues, and I'm hoping it's for a National League team, as I'm inclined to think he's going to deliver.

I like this angle from Ricky O'Donnell: "There's not much of an argument against it. Jackie Robinson West did cheat. It was probably the best cheating any of us will ever see." Also, I'll take our discussion over that one.

In the best news of my week, "Mr. Show" is coming back. It's officially been a 17-year break, although it only feels like two years if you treat "The Story of Everest" as a recap of the 2013 White Sox season.