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Why Catchers Need Accurate Pitcher Data

Catchers Need Valuable and Accurate Pitcher Data.

I remember being at a bullpen session with an MLB team 18 months ago and listening to the pitching coach. At the time, they were just starting to use technology to capture ball data. They were testing our system, but also had a competitor product running. The coach said to the catcher, “remember, no comments about his pitches. Please keep quiet.” I asked the coach why he had that rule, and he said simply – “I don’t want the catcher complimenting a pitch that was not really that good. We have the data to tell us.”

With the advent of good ball data in pitching, I think the coach is correct in giving that guidance to the catcher in a bullpen session. However, we all know that in a game, there is an important relationship between the pitcher and the catcher. And now that data on pitching is becoming more readily available, it seems to be a priority for the catcher to know the data on each of his pitchers. While the pitching coach and pitcher are going over the data, the catcher should be right there as well.

Catchers need to see pitching data

When the game is over, the catcher has a pretty good feel for what the pitcher did but it is still somewhat subjective. A priority should be after each game, the catcher quickly goes over the data from each pitcher. He can then compare what he believes he saw versus what the ball data says really happened. Look to compare certain pitches in the game with those from the bullpen – were they better, worse, or no difference? How did a certain pitch tonight compare with the last two appearances for example?

It is likely the pitching coach is doing the same analysis – perhaps they should do it together. Comparing the bullpen with in game is a huge opportunity with pitchers, and the catchers need to also have the responsibility for this every day.

Knowing the pitch type is key

Knowing that his pitcher has recently thrown 12 of 14 perfect curveballs in the bullpen will help with pitch calls during the game for example. Knowing more precisely the movement opportunities with each pitch by pitcher is very valuable in a game. It is also very helpful to know precisely which pitch type did not perform well from a game. And to know the pitch type actually performed well in the game (had the spin rate, trajectory, spin axis, etc that is normal for the pitcher) but was consistently hit, gives equally valuable information for a catcher.

The data revolution is modifying some responsibilities, and changing how certain things are to be coached and managed. This seems to apply almost as much to catchers as it does to coaches. Integrate them into the process of evaluating the pitching data, and likely more value will be created with pitching for your team.

Providing the most accurate data on pitching for bullpen and in game is our daily objective at Yakkertech. We are here to help! 

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