Tek the Best Catcher, Pythagorean Standings

Jason Varitek has to be one of the best catchers in the game. With apologies to Texas, Florida, and Detroit, it is no longer Ivan Rodriguez. With emphatic statements to New York, it is not, never will be, and never was Jorge Posada. Let’s compare.

Who does everyone say is the most prepared and most knowledgable and one of the best defensive and on and on and on catcher in the game? Your’ll get some deviations, rightful ones, that name Brad Ausmus (Houston), Dan Wilson (Seattle), Brian Schneider (Washington), Mike Matheny (San Francisco), but Jorge Posada doesn’t even amount to a whisper in this company.

Ivan Rodriguez could however be argued to be in here, but really, all he has to his defensive rep is his gun of an arm. Oh, and then there’s Jason Varitek where you lump into the above category. Forgetting for a moment that Varitek is probably better in the defensive facets of the game than Ausmus, Wilson, Schneider, and Matheny, you have to add in that Varitek is also a born leader and please also add in Varitek’s offense, which is next:

2002 BOS 132 467 58 124 27 1 10 61 41 95 4 3 .266 .332 .392 .724
2003 BOS 142 451 63 123 31 1 25 85 51 106 3 2 .273 .351 .512 .863
2004 BOS 137 463 67 137 30 1 18 73 62 126 10 3 .296 .390 .482 .872
2005 BOS 13 51 7 18 1 1 4 9 2 9 0 0 .353 .377 .647 1.024

Jorge Posada:

2002 NYY 143 511 79 137 40 1 20 99 81 143 1 0 .268 .370 .468 .837
2003 NYY 142 481 83 135 24 0 30 101 93 110 2 4 .281 .405 .518 .922
2004 NYY 137 449 72 122 31 0 21 81 88 92 1 3 .272 .400 .481 .881
2005 NYY 15 55 6 15 2 0 1 7 7 8 0 0 .273 .355 .364 .718

Ivan Rodriguez:

2002 TEX 108 408 67 128 32 2 19 60 25 71 5 4 .314 .353 .542 .895
2003 FLA 144 511 90 152 36 3 16 85 55 92 10 6 .297 .369 .474 .843
2004 DET 135 527 72 176 32 2 19 86 41 91 7 4 .334 .383 .510 .893
2005 DET 14 60 9 21 6 0 1 8 1 8 0 0 .350 .355 .500 .855

In 2002-3, there was I-Rod, then everyone else. Posada had a leg up on Varitek offensively, but Tek was still better defensively, making the two average. In addition, 2003 had Varitek one and a half years removed from a broken elbow in 2001. All accounts I have heard, although I could have heard wrong, say it takes about two years for someone to come back full force from a broken elbow. 2004 changed all, as Varitek had the same offensive production as Posada, thereby vaulting ahead of him by defensive prowess. A slipping I-Rod meant that it was now Tek’s turn to claim the crown. So far in 2005, he has. While it’s a bit premature to say he’s a better offensive catcher than I-Rod, I have no problem anointing him the best catcher given his O is the same as I-Rod and his D is otherworldly. A great article by ESPN Magazine really put this in perspective for me. I want to bring you an excerpt:

Clement says Varitek was the biggest reason he chose the Sox this winter. “I got unsolicted calls from people in the game,” he says. “And they said, ‘This guy can make you better.’ I’m not going to act like an expert on Jason when all we’ve got under our belts is some spring training innings, but I see things already. Knowledge of pitching.

Knowledge of opposing batters and incredible recall of what’s worked in the past.”

When asked how Varitek can make Clement, a seven-year vet with a 69-75 career record better, Red Sox manager Terry Francona says, “Matt has the arm, the pitches. We just believe Tek’s the guy who can get him to throw with more conviction.”

How’s that possible? Ask Arroyo, a guy who was released by the lowly Pirates two seasons ago. “Jason has an idea of how we’re going to get guys out,” says Arroyo. “But as the game progresses, maybe he notices I don’t have such a good breaking ball, but I do have a good sinker that day. He’s perceptive because he’s focused on me. His mind never wanders from the job at hand, which is getting three outs. I threw to Jason Kendall in Pittsburgh, and honestly, he cared more about his offense than anything else. With Tek, he could’ve just grounded into a double play with the bases loaded, and I know when he’s back behind the plate, he’s pulling for me. I can see it in his face, through the mask, that he’s focused on me.”


Fire Brand reader Chuck chimes in while on duty in Iraq:

Have always wanted to play with Sabremetrics more than I have, and it has been a while. I was trying to get my head around some of the info you wrote about Millar, but I guess I was too tired. Besides, I don’t have a whole lot of time to mess around with such things over here.

But I have done a couple of things, one being to look at the current standings, and then compare them with with where the numbers say they ‘should’ be based on the Pythagorean Method (PM), based on RS and RA. Here is a look at the AL East:

EAST               W       L       PCT     GB      RS      RA      RS/G    RA/G    PM-W    PM-L    PT-PCT

Boston          10      6       0.625   -       87      62      5.44    3.88    11      5       0.663

Baltimore       9       7       0.563   1       82      85      5.13    5.31    8       8       0.482

Toronto         9       8       0.529   1.5     88      79      5.18    4.65    9       8       0.554

NY Yankees      7       9       0.438   3       89      96      5.56    6.00    7       9       0.462

Tampa Bay       6       10      0.375   4       77      99      4.81    6.19    6       10      0.377

The Sox should have another win under their belt, according to the Gods of Runs, and the Orioles are doing better than they should based on their production/defense. Of course it is early in the season, but it should be fun to watch. Especially with the Yanks giving up 6 runs a game!

Other winners in MLB are Detroit, Florida, and Milwaukee, who records should be better based on PM. Biggest losers are ChiSox, Washington, Cinci, Arizona, and Pittsburgh (hard to imagine their record as being better than it should be!).

Great news from Chuck. Just take a look at the RS and RA (Runs Scored, Runs Against). Only two back of the Yankees, and yet we’ve only alowed 62 runs. Toronto is 2nd at 79. Wow. Thanks for the help, Chuck!


An e-mailer who attended Opening Day just so happens to take really good pictures!

I was at opening day and took some really high quality shots with a digital rebel and a 300mm lens.

I posted them in a Flash slideshow at my site, http://www.gametripping.com

As a season ticket holder, I will be taking a lot of photos of this quality during the season. If you are interested, feel free to link to the site for your readers: http://www.gametripping.com/#GameTrippingPics

Check the pictures out, some really good ones! Tonight it’s Tim Wakefield (2-0, 1.37) vs. lefty phenom Scott Kazmir (0-1, 4.80) in Tampa. Considering Wakefield’s streak and he loves pitching in Tropicana, we should continue our streak of being the only MLB team not to allow a run in the first inning, and we could see some more eight inning shutout ball from our starting pitching!

In Theo we trust, indeed.

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