Wilson Ramos will be the starting catcher this season for the Washington Nationals. If he can stay healthy he is a threat on offense, but how good is he at framing pitches? Framing pitches is new to the baseball statistical platform in which catchers are held to a high standard. If a catcher can frame pitches better than anyone else, he becomes that much more valuable to a team. Where does Wilson Ramos stack up against everyone else? Let me show you.
Disclaimer: Strike zones change by the umpire. There isn’t one strike zone that all of them go by, even though they should. This is a new statistic that is being modified daily!
Ramos gets about .40 calls a game just by pitch framing. That is an average based on how many pitches he caught throughout the entire 2013 season. That .40 pitch could come in the first or the ninth, we aren’t entirely sure. He also gets about 12% of the pitches he caught inside the strike zone called a ball. He is in the middle of the pack when it comes to that statistic.
He gets 6.8% of pitches called a strike, that were really outside of the strike zone. That is a good thing for a catcher. When it comes to catchers that caught at least 2,900 pitches, 29 catchers out of 50 that qualified, had a better percentage than Ramos. That puts him in the bottom third of qualified catchers. I know that he didn’t catch that many innings last season, so that is why I did it by pitches caught. While Ramos is at 6.8%, Jose Molina is a whole two percentage points higher at 9.0%.
You ever wonder why Molina still has a job as a Major League catcher? That is why. He can frame pitches better than anyone in all of baseball and with him framing pitches, that can turn into more outs, which in turn, turns into more wins.
Some of the best pitch framers in baseball include, Jose Molina, Hank Conger (8.9%), Jonathan Lucroy (8.8%), Chris Stewart (8.6%), Russell Martin (8.3%) and Yadier Molina (8.2%). All of those catchers get at least one more percent of the calls than Ramos does on average. It may not seem like much, but in a 162 game season, that could end up being four more wins and those four wins, get you a Division Title instead of a Wild Card spot.
The top catchers that I just listed above get within 1.5 and 2.0 calls per game that go their way. So over a 162 game season, they catch 150 games. That is 300 calls that go their way throughout a season. That is a lot of calls if you really think about it. That call could end up coming in a big spot in the 8th inning 20% of the time. If 20% of the time the call is going your way, then you have to feel good about your chances of getting out of the inning.
How does Ramos stack up against the best? He is in the top 15 of all catchers that caught at least 3,000 pitches last season. There are the catchers at the top that are elite at pitch framing and Ramos is towards the bottom of the elite status. I wouldn’t even call him elite. After Ramos it drops off exponentially. He could be better and could be worse in 2014. It all depends on how many games he plays and how many pitches he catches.