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https://theathletic.com/822659/2019/02/18/how-the-mariners-are-using-data-biomechanics-and-technique-to-build-a-better-catcher/

This has been going around, on how with focused PD staff, Seattle is workign to turn a great offensive catcher into a average defensive catcher so you have : a good catcher under control for years.

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So how do you build a better catcher? With Narváez, it’s taken a village.

Starting last month in Peoria and continuing last week as pitchers and catchers reported for the start of spring training, members of the coaching staff — with help from the analytics and athletic training departments — have teamed to help Narváez improve one of his biggest weaknesses: framing pitches.

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Some catchers are good at turning balls into strikes via the subtleties of positioning and glove movement. Others are not. Years ago, this wasn’t something organizations were obsessed with. But with the introduction of tracking technology, clubs are now able to determine which catchers are better winning that borderline pitch — what the industry refers to as the “50-50 pitch” — that has the potential to be called either a strike or a ball.

After bringing in Narváez in the offseason, the Mariners first had to make it clear to him why this particular skill was so important.

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The coaches determined that Narváez needed improvement in his hips’ range of motion. Clifford and his staff tested Narváez in Seattle’s high-performance center before devising a mobility program he could take back to Venezuela before he joined pitchers and catchers in Arizona. They conducted bilateral (both legs) and unilateral (one leg) tests, as well as force-plate testing, which measures the power produced from a standing vertical jump. The staff then analyzed that data to see if there were any asymmetries.

When this was done, Narváez was armed with 8-10 mobility exercises to be conducted each morning, essentially an active warmup that takes him 12-15 minutes to complete before individual work and catching bullpens begins outside. The goal, Clifford said, is to help Narváez become more mobile, which would allow him to get in different and more advantageous positions in his defensive set-up and, in turn, could help his ability to receive the baseball.

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“The good thing about Omar is that he made it to the big leagues doing it in a difficult way,” Arnerich said. “He’s made it a little hard on himself. It’s exciting for someone like myself in that we can educate him and help him. He has been a quick learner, retains information well and has made really quick progress.”

 

It's clear after the sox claimed they "revamped" themselves after 2016, that they were ignorant of how needed to be done. I would argue this is because they kept the same people who have been around the same organization for 20 years, but regardless, the mariners are not the forefront of anything but ... look at this.

Now, the sox took a project defensive catcher in the first round, and he will have to become a good mlb catcher without any of the same tools other catchers in other orgs get. This is how you become below average consistently. The margins matter a lot in baseball. Are the best players really 50% better than the worst? Or just 5% better in several areas that allow more consistent success.

The sox are falling down despite the fact that they may be improving when judging themselves to previous practices, because other organizations are improving so rapidly.

Cue Balta and marcus semien and ron washington.

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1 minute ago, bmags said:

https://theathletic.com/822659/2019/02/18/how-the-mariners-are-using-data-biomechanics-and-technique-to-build-a-better-catcher/

This has been going around, on how with focused PD staff, Seattle is workign to turn a great offensive catcher into a average defensive catcher so you have : a good catcher under control for years.

 

It's clear after the sox claimed they "revamped" themselves after 2016, that they were ignorant of how needed to be done. I would argue this is because they kept the same people who have been around the same organization for 20 years, but regardless, the mariners are not the forefront of anything but ... look at this.

Now, the sox took a project defensive catcher in the first round, and he will have to become a good mlb catcher without any of the same tools other catchers in other orgs get. This is how you become below average consistently. The margins matter a lot in baseball. Are the best players really 50% better than the worst? Or just 5% better in several areas that allow more consistent success.

The sox are falling down despite the fact that they may be improving when judging themselves to previous practices, because other organizations are improving so rapidly.

Cue Balta and marcus semien and ron washington.

image.jpeg

We are Dooooomed!!!!!

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This makes me wonder about Flowers. He improved his framing drastically while he was here. Was it due to anything the White Sox did or was it more Flowers doing it himself?

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6 minutes ago, OmarComing25 said:

This makes me wonder about Flowers. He improved his framing drastically while he was here. Was it due to anything the White Sox did or was it more Flowers doing it himself?

Right, and he improved it a lot just as it was becoming a "thing" and the sox FO clearly has not prioritized framing (based on post-flowers acquisitions) so I feel like he just picked it up himself.

The sox clearly *are* using analytics, as fegan has done a good job reporting on. In AA there are a lot of anecdotes of it being used.

So it's not about "using analytics" or any specific tactic, it's about providing and coordinating overwhelming resources to make the best ballplayers possible. That's what I don't think is happening. Seems like they are also trying to start everything from scratch instead of just hiring someone who knows what they are doing.

 

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4 minutes ago, bmags said:

Right, and he improved it a lot just as it was becoming a "thing" and the sox FO clearly has not prioritized framing (based on post-flowers acquisitions) so I feel like he just picked it up himself.

The sox clearly *are* using analytics, as fegan has done a good job reporting on. In AA there are a lot of anecdotes of it being used.

So it's not about "using analytics" or any specific tactic, it's about providing and coordinating overwhelming resources to make the best ballplayers possible. That's what I don't think is happening. Seems like they are also trying to start everything from scratch instead of just hiring someone who knows what they are doing.

 

Maybe you're right. I think the most likely answer is that they're doing analytics half-assed because they think  it is too expensive to do correctly. Just my cynical viewpoint right now. They probably won't just hire someone who knows what they're doing because they cost too much. 

Right now, it's hard to see how this doesn't all go back to dollars and cents. 

Edited by Jack Parkman

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2 hours ago, OmarComing25 said:

This makes me wonder about Flowers. He improved his framing drastically while he was here. Was it due to anything the White Sox did or was it more Flowers doing it himself?

He spent a lot of time working with a catcher who was excellent in framing - AJ - right?

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In what amounts to be one of the more typical situations that Hahn keeps putting himself in:

Zips projections came out.

Chicago white Sox projected for .9 WAR

Seattle Mariners projected for 1.1 WAR

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I think the White Sox should make it an organizational priority to start using the opener. It makes way too much sense. You are going to use relievers anyways, why not put them in a posiion to face players who hit on the correct side of the plate for them for an inning or two. Or, if the other team sets it up against them, bring in the starter who throws from the other side, and he will have favorable match ups. And if the opposing manager substitutes, you are taking all of his late game maneuvering away. Get the starters used to coming in in the second or third inning. Using a basketball term, the opener is free cheese.

Edited by Dick Allen

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Several things:

We have no idea what the Sox did to improve Narvaez's framing. I suspect that, at the least, they knew it was a problem. If they didn't buy into the framing metrics, you couldn't justify trading him given the amount of team control he had and how good his offense was last year. The Sox know Narvaez and it's hard to guess how that affected their projections of him. Maybe they think he's a dumbass and can't be taught. I don't know.

It's great to put on a full court press to make a player better at something he's horrible at. But baseball is hard and sometimes trying hard doesn't ultimately work. It's kind of like asking why nobody taught Gordon Beckham how to hit or Alcides Escobar how to take a walk.

There's a lot of unknown with Narvaez. With his past level of pitch framing, he's really only playable as one of the top 30 catchers in MLB if he hits as well as he did last year. Even then, he was probably bottom half of the league due to how extremely bad his pitch framing was. If he improves the pitch framing, his potential value obviously goes up. But he also has to maintain the level of hitting, to some extent, to remain valuable. It's not hard to squint and see the same old high .600s OPS hitter in there that he used to be. His big year was predicated on doubling his career home run total across many professional seasons. Maybe...he just won't be able to do that again?

Anyway, the point here is I can see exactly why the Mariners decided to go after Narvaez but it's also easy to see why the White Sox saw a guy who could very soon see his value drop to Kevan Smith levels.

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20 minutes ago, Jake said:

Several things:

We have no idea what the Sox did to improve Narvaez's framing. I suspect that, at the least, they knew it was a problem. If they didn't buy into the framing metrics, you couldn't justify trading him given the amount of team control he had and how good his offense was last year. The Sox know Narvaez and it's hard to guess how that affected their projections of him. Maybe they think he's a dumbass and can't be taught. I don't know.

It's great to put on a full court press to make a player better at something he's horrible at. But baseball is hard and sometimes trying hard doesn't ultimately work. It's kind of like asking why nobody taught Gordon Beckham how to hit or Alcides Escobar how to take a walk.

There's a lot of unknown with Narvaez. With his past level of pitch framing, he's really only playable as one of the top 30 catchers in MLB if he hits as well as he did last year. Even then, he was probably bottom half of the league due to how extremely bad his pitch framing was. If he improves the pitch framing, his potential value obviously goes up. But he also has to maintain the level of hitting, to some extent, to remain valuable. It's not hard to squint and see the same old high .600s OPS hitter in there that he used to be. His big year was predicated on doubling his career home run total across many professional seasons. Maybe...he just won't be able to do that again?

Anyway, the point here is I can see exactly why the Mariners decided to go after Narvaez but it's also easy to see why the White Sox saw a guy who could very soon see his value drop to Kevan Smith levels.

Maybe.

But I've yet to see anyone in baseball say " we have found that investing in player development does not pay off".

Per the bolded, not saying this will work with everyone, but I know that if you do it with everyone it can pay off more often than if you don't. And if it pays off once its incredibly valuable.

Also we know that when asked around the league the sox are not mentioned often as advanced in player dev, we know the sox have not see great production in player development, and we haven't seen many examples of the white sox providing overwhelming resources like this through sox media. Fegan is good at this, he shows an org that provides analytics but I've never read a story like this before.

What do we hear with the sox? "Stay Tall" "They gave me a cutter". That may align with their good pitcher health, but I've not seen anything on the position player front that has paid off or hit home like that.

 

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4 hours ago, OmarComing25 said:

This makes me wonder about Flowers. He improved his framing drastically while he was here. Was it due to anything the White Sox did or was it more Flowers doing it himself?

It's just proof this post is nonsense. Sox turned navarez from a non prospect to a starting catcher. People will hate just to hate. Collins has supposedly improved significantly too.

White Sox need to spend more on their analytical department but this navarez obsession is odd.

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4 hours ago, bmags said:

Right, and he improved it a lot just as it was becoming a "thing" and the sox FO clearly has not prioritized framing (based on post-flowers acquisitions) so I feel like he just picked it up himself.

The sox clearly *are* using analytics, as fegan has done a good job reporting on. In AA there are a lot of anecdotes of it being used.

So it's not about "using analytics" or any specific tactic, it's about providing and coordinating overwhelming resources to make the best ballplayers possible. That's what I don't think is happening. Seems like they are also trying to start everything from scratch instead of just hiring someone who knows what they are doing.

 

The white Sox think they can change you into a good framer. Fact is, some people can do things well and some cant. Training be damned.

Edited by Look at Ray Ray Run

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3 minutes ago, Look at Ray Ray Run said:

The white Sox think they can change you into a good framer. Fact is, some people can do things well and some cant. Training be damned.

So your stance is that player development is not actually an organizational skill, that players are either what they will be or not what they will be?

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7 minutes ago, bmags said:

So your stance is that player development is not actually an organizational skill, that players are either what they will be or not what they will be?

No, my stance is that navarez is 27 years old and hes not going to become a great framer. 

The Sox developed him into a serviceable mlb piece out of nowhere really... and you want to be critical of how they handled him? 

The Sox have, once again, plenty of issues in development but Omar navarez wasnt one of them.

I am of the belief that baseball is a game you figure out or don't - for most people. If you're learning fundamentals at the professional level you have other problems. An organizations job is to provide you with information imo - that's where analytics and development come in for me. Processing that information and accepting it is 100% up to the player regardless of how hard the coaching staff and front office push.

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https://www.theringer.com/mlb/2018/9/21/17885820/pitch-framing-strike-zone-jorge-alfaro-tyler-flowers

Baseball has become much better in framing since it was identified as a skill, so it can most definitely be improved upon.

I will counter that baseball has many organizations that seem to have more players that "figure it out", and that the white sox do not.

You again, are only comparing the white sox to the white sox, so having narvaez at all is development, to the same idea that Trayce Thompson is a great example of developing a High School draft pick. He made the major leagues after all.

The value that the sox have received from their farm system is poor, and I don't buy that it's all scouting. Marco Paddy was a great scout in toronto, he comes here and suddenly his players can't get out of A ball. Something is up. 

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7 minutes ago, bmags said:

https://www.theringer.com/mlb/2018/9/21/17885820/pitch-framing-strike-zone-jorge-alfaro-tyler-flowers

Baseball has become much better in framing since it was identified as a skill, so it can most definitely be improved upon.

I will counter that baseball has many organizations that seem to have more players that "figure it out", and that the white sox do not.

You again, are only comparing the white sox to the white sox, so having narvaez at all is development, to the same idea that Trayce Thompson is a great example of developing a High School draft pick. He made the major leagues after all.

The value that the sox have received from their farm system is poor, and I don't buy that it's all scouting. Marco Paddy was a great scout in toronto, he comes here and suddenly his players can't get out of A ball. Something is up. 

Dan Hudson...no patience, 3 big league starts, Cooper didn’t like him.  Pretty much the same with Brandon McCarthy.

Same with Marcus Semien, even Eduardo Escobar to a lesser extent...trade players before they realize their potential when short term production isn’t immediately gratifying.

We all remember Beckham moved all over the field, Viciedo, Mark Teahen, Josh Fields, the list goes on and on...it’s pretty incredible to me we’ve never even had defensive specialist (maybe it will have to be Omar Vizquel.)

Meanwhile, the Royals can turn Alex Gordon, through sheer hard work and persistence, into a perennial Gold Glover (yes, I realize he’s fallen off a sheer cliff offensively in his early 30’s.)

Edited by caulfield12

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20 minutes ago, caulfield12 said:

Dan Hudson...no patience, 3 big league starts, Cooper didn’t like him.  Pretty much the same with Brandon McCarthy.

Same with Marcus Semien, even Eduardo Escobar to a lesser extent...trade players before they realize their potential when short term production isn’t immediately gratifying.

We all remember Beckham moved all over the field, Viciedo, Mark Teahen, Josh Fields, the list goes on and on...it’s pretty incredible to me we’ve never even had defensive specialist (maybe it will have to be Omar Vizquel.)

Meanwhile, the Royals can turn Alex Gordon, through sheer hard work and persistence, into a perennial Gold Glover (yes, I realize he’s fallen off a sheer cliff offensively in his early 30’s.)

Lol they moved a very athletic and talented third baseman to left field... I hope he can play there. 

Semien was another actual success story - a nothing prospect who won AA POY. why do Sox fans name guys who actually developed after being nothing prospects at draft time?

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Well let's wait first if the mariners actually succeed. If Omar indeed becomes an average or better framer the sox player development deserves some criticism.

But so far it is only training and I'm sure the sox tried stuff in training too albeit not sure if it was as methodical.

 

Data driven Player development, rather than just an ex pro eyeballing you and guessing is a real thing but it still has to translate to games and we have yet to see that with omar.

The sox have sticked too long with the old cue based coaching but at least they try now with lisle and Johansen.

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22 minutes ago, Look at Ray Ray Run said:

Lol they moved a very athletic and talented third baseman to left field... I hope he can play there. 

Semien was another actual success story - a nothing prospect who won AA POY. why do Sox fans name guys who actually developed after being nothing prospects at draft time?

Because had they improved his defense to the extent that Oakland did where he was passable as a SS, he would have been more valuable to the franchise either as a trade chip or player.

And also that being able to identify marcus semien's that can improve to passable players prevent you from needing to buy passable talent instead of grouping that additional money or prospects to get actual impact talent.

Overall, sox need to maximize value out of as many prospects as possible, and that additional margin of value will pay off regardless of whether it becomes a super star machine or just provides a bunch of average depth.

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4 minutes ago, dominik-keul@gmx.de said:

Well let's wait first if the mariners actually succeed. If Omar indeed becomes an average or better framer the sox player development deserves some criticism.

But so far it is only training and I'm sure the sox tried stuff in training too albeit not sure if it was as methodical.

 

Data driven Player development, rather than just an ex pro eyeballing you and guessing is a real thing but it still has to translate to games and we have yet to see that with omar.

The sox have sticked too long with the old cue based coaching but at least they try now with lisle and Johansen.

I am excited to hear their influence this year. But I wish it had not taken two years.

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3 hours ago, bmags said:

In what amounts to be one of the more typical situations that Hahn keeps putting himself in:

Zips projections came out.

Chicago white Sox projected for .9 WAR

Seattle Mariners projected for 1.1 WAR

Is that also adjusting for Safeco offensively?

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2 hours ago, bmags said:

I am excited to hear their influence this year. But I wish it had not taken two years.

Two years ago only the Astros and 2-3 other teams did it. The sox are not a team at the forefront of innovation, they do it when it is established and "proven". At least they are not last this time.

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