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Brayan Pena New Back-Up Catcher; 1 year deal

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First, I don't expect the backup C to get 200 ABs this year. I think it is closer to 150.

Second, laird had almost an even number of ABs against righties and lefties, so assuming 200 ABs vs LHP is inflating the numbers for the alternatives you are projecting.

To be fair, I never used AB, I used PA. To be fair to your point, however, a bottom-order (7-9 batting spot) platoon against LHP would probably be closer to 175 PAs rather than 200 PAs I was quoting as a round number. That reduction in PAs would reduce both sides of the comparison (in terms of outcome runs created) by a couple of runs, but wouldn't really impact the difference, since I used a range of 5-10.

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To be fair, I never used AB, I used PA. To be fair to your point, however, a bottom-order (7-9 batting spot) platoon against LHP would probably be closer to 175 PAs rather than 200 PAs I was quoting as a round number. That reduction in PAs would reduce both sides of the comparison (in terms of outcome runs created) by a couple of runs, but wouldn't really impact the difference, since I used a range of 5-10.

Let's keep in mind that Pena has been a back up pretty much his MLB career. Those of you who played at higher levels know how hard it is to play once or twice a week and hit. I don't think you can compare a back ups stats to someone who gets regular playing time. Cabrera would have trouble if he only hit once a week. Pena hit fairly well in the minors when he played regularly, although with little power and few walks.

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Let's keep in mind that Pena has been a back up pretty much his MLB career. Those of you who played at higher levels know how hard it is to play once or twice a week and hit. I don't think you can compare a back ups stats to someone who gets regular playing time. Cabrera would have trouble if he only hit once a week. Pena hit fairly well in the minors when he played regularly, although with little power and few walks.

I would expect a straight platoon vs. LHP catcher to get more than 175 - 200 PAs...probably more like 250, which would be more than enough to keep a guy fresh/sharp.

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Let's keep in mind that Pena has been a back up pretty much his MLB career. Those of you who played at higher levels know how hard it is to play once or twice a week and hit. I don't think you can compare a back ups stats to someone who gets regular playing time. Cabrera would have trouble if he only hit once a week. Pena hit fairly well in the minors when he played regularly, although with little power and few walks.

Pena doesn't hit well relative to other back-ups, so I guess I don't see the point.

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Further, I believe it is very possible that the Tigers do not want to platoon Avila on the basis of the opponents SP for several logical reasons. 1) It can potentially hurt the pitching staff. JV, Scherzer Porcello, Fister ect have several years of experience with Alex and they may not want to put a SP at a disadvantage because the other team wants to throw a lefty. If the Tigers are in a crucial game late in the year, or in the playoffs, do you want to bat a marginal upgrade against LHP at the sake of risking the effectiveness of our own SP?

It is speculative, but essentially you are suggesting the Tigers signed Pena to catch Sanchez or Smyly primarily. I doubt that is how Pena will be used. I also have to believe that most major league catchers can catch most major league pitchers and not significantly adversely affect the effectiveness of the pitcher. Just my opinion.

Didn't the Tigers sort of do that with Avila/Martinez in 2011? Unless I'm mis-remembering, Martinez seemed to catch a lot of Brad Penny and Rick Porcello, and Leyland didn't let anyone catch Verlander but Avila. Leyland always says he doesn't believe in personal catchers, but I have to think that he'd be more inclined to play Avila depending on who's starting for the Tigers, rather than who's starting for the other team. Dombrowski did specifically mention that Pena's switch-hitting was an important aspect of his signing. Doesn't that mean they'd like to not do the LH/RH platoon, but rather be able to comfortably pick and choose what days they rest Avila?

I happened to have a lot of free time on my hands to troll B-R, to see if there was actually a large difference in the effectiveness of our SP when Avila catches and when someone else does. It's pretty easy to look at pitcher/catcher splits for traditional stats, so here's a look at the career numbers for our respective four SP with a history with Avila ... (formatting will probably fail, excuse the tilde mess)

Doug Fister:

~ ~ 610 IP ~ 3.48 ERA ~ SO/BB 412/121 (3.41) ~ .254/.297/.378/.675 ~ BABIP .288

Avila: 162.2 IP ~ 2.82 ERA ~ SO/BB 137/22 (6.23) ~ .234/.269/.355/.624 ~ BABIP .280

Olivio 100.1 IP ~ 3.68 ERA ~ SO/BB 64/23 (2.78) ~ .257/.306/.374/.680 ~ BABIP .294

Johnson: 72.0 IP ~ 3.62 ERA ~ SO/BB 35/12 (2.92) ~ .255/.288/.365/.653 ~ BABIP .277

Justin Verlander:

~ ~ 1553.2 IP ~ 3.40 ERA ~ SO/BB 1454/470 (3.09) ~ .232/.295/.356/.652 ~ BABIP .286

Avila: 523.2 IP ~ 2.60 ERA ~ SO/BB 519/126 (4.12) ~ .199/.251/.308/.559 ~ BABIP .250

Laird: 380.1 IP ~ 3.53 ERA ~ SO/BB 399/108 (3.69) ~ .246/.302/.373/.675 ~ BABIP .318

Pudge: 381 IP ~ 3.90 ERA ~ SO/BB 310/143 (2.17) ~ .242/.317/.373/.691 ~ BABIP .282

Max Scherzer:

~ ~ 804.4 ~ 3.88 ERA ~ SO/BB 829/270 (3.07) ~ .254/.319/.413/.733 ~ BABIP .316

Avila: 416 IP ~ 3.61 ERA ~ SO/BB 425/122 (3.48) ~ .250/.309/.405/.714 ~ BABIP .312

Laird: 138.1 IP ~ 3.71 ERA ~ SO/BB 143/53 (2.70) ~ .259/.329/.391/.720 ~ BABIP .333

Snyder: 118 IP ~ 3.51 ERA ~ SO/BB 134/52 (2.58) ~ .253/.339/.374/.713 ~ BABIP .336

Rick Porcello:

~ ~ 691.2 IP ~ 4.55 ERA ~ SO/BB 384/180 (2.13) ~ .290/.337/.432/.769 ~ BABIP .314

Avila: 311.1 IP ~ 5.03 ERA ~ SO/BB 180/71 (2.54) ~ .298/.343/.443/.786 ~ BABIP .325

Laird: 296.0 IP ~ 4.32 ERA ~ SO/BB 159/88 (1.81) ~ .289/.340/.439/.779 ~ BABIP .309

Martinez: 35.2 IP ~ 4.54 ERA ~ SO/BB 17/12 (1.42) ~ .274/.331/.400/.731 ~ BABIP .299

Not sure what stats you'd exactly want to look at when comparing batteries, but I specifically included the SO/BB ratio because it's the one stat that consistently stood out when comparing Avila to any of our pitchers, starting or otherwise, and the biggest difference I could see. I'm not sure why pitchers strike out more batters with Avila. Maybe it has to do with his pitch framing, as that article posted earlier in the thread pointed out that Avila ranked high in the league in that regard. Maybe it has something to do with superior game-calling. Fister's numbers especially are ridiculous with Avila. And obviously, Avila's numbers with Verlander are very good, but you could argue that Avila's simply had the privilege of catching Verlander in his awesome years (if you look at just 2012, Avila had the better splits than Laird, for what it's worth). Avila doesn't work especially well with Porcello, it looks like.

Well, take it for what it's worth. You could always say that Avila's main comparison here is Laird, who sucks. Perils of sample sizes and all that. But I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that the pitchers would work more effectively with Avila than with Pena, whether it's to a large degree with some pitchers and a smaller degree with others. How that pans out over the course of the season? Well, we'll probably never know. But as the end-of-the-season run last year showed us, every single game counts, and one game either way could make or break your playoff chances. IMO, Leyland is as likely to catch Avila until he crumbles into catcher dust as he is likely to rest Avila whenever he damn well pleases, who's on the mound and who's backup catcher be damned.

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Didn't the Tigers sort of do that with Avila/Martinez in 2011? Unless I'm mis-remembering, Martinez seemed to catch a lot of Brad Penny and Rick Porcello, and Leyland didn't let anyone catch Verlander but Avila. Leyland always says he doesn't believe in personal catchers, but I have to think that he'd be more inclined to play Avila depending on who's starting for the Tigers, rather than who's starting for the other team. Dombrowski did specifically mention that Pena's switch-hitting was an important aspect of his signing. Doesn't that mean they'd like to not do the LH/RH platoon, but rather be able to comfortably pick and choose what days they rest Avila?

I happened to have a lot of free time on my hands to troll B-R, to see if there was actually a large difference in the effectiveness of our SP when Avila catches and when someone else does. It's pretty easy to look at pitcher/catcher splits for traditional stats, so here's a look at the career numbers for our respective four SP with a history with Avila ... (formatting will probably fail, excuse the tilde mess)

Doug Fister:

~ ~ 610 IP ~ 3.48 ERA ~ SO/BB 412/121 (3.41) ~ .254/.297/.378/.675 ~ BABIP .288

Avila: 162.2 IP ~ 2.82 ERA ~ SO/BB 137/22 (6.23) ~ .234/.269/.355/.624 ~ BABIP .280

Olivio 100.1 IP ~ 3.68 ERA ~ SO/BB 64/23 (2.78) ~ .257/.306/.374/.680 ~ BABIP .294

Johnson: 72.0 IP ~ 3.62 ERA ~ SO/BB 35/12 (2.92) ~ .255/.288/.365/.653 ~ BABIP .277

Justin Verlander:

~ ~ 1553.2 IP ~ 3.40 ERA ~ SO/BB 1454/470 (3.09) ~ .232/.295/.356/.652 ~ BABIP .286

Avila: 523.2 IP ~ 2.60 ERA ~ SO/BB 519/126 (4.12) ~ .199/.251/.308/.559 ~ BABIP .250

Laird: 380.1 IP ~ 3.53 ERA ~ SO/BB 399/108 (3.69) ~ .246/.302/.373/.675 ~ BABIP .318

Pudge: 381 IP ~ 3.90 ERA ~ SO/BB 310/143 (2.17) ~ .242/.317/.373/.691 ~ BABIP .282

Max Scherzer:

~ ~ 804.4 ~ 3.88 ERA ~ SO/BB 829/270 (3.07) ~ .254/.319/.413/.733 ~ BABIP .316

Avila: 416 IP ~ 3.61 ERA ~ SO/BB 425/122 (3.48) ~ .250/.309/.405/.714 ~ BABIP .312

Laird: 138.1 IP ~ 3.71 ERA ~ SO/BB 143/53 (2.70) ~ .259/.329/.391/.720 ~ BABIP .333

Snyder: 118 IP ~ 3.51 ERA ~ SO/BB 134/52 (2.58) ~ .253/.339/.374/.713 ~ BABIP .336

Rick Porcello:

~ ~ 691.2 IP ~ 4.55 ERA ~ SO/BB 384/180 (2.13) ~ .290/.337/.432/.769 ~ BABIP .314

Avila: 311.1 IP ~ 5.03 ERA ~ SO/BB 180/71 (2.54) ~ .298/.343/.443/.786 ~ BABIP .325

Laird: 296.0 IP ~ 4.32 ERA ~ SO/BB 159/88 (1.81) ~ .289/.340/.439/.779 ~ BABIP .309

Martinez: 35.2 IP ~ 4.54 ERA ~ SO/BB 17/12 (1.42) ~ .274/.331/.400/.731 ~ BABIP .299

Not sure what stats you'd exactly want to look at when comparing batteries, but I specifically included the SO/BB ratio because it's the one stat that consistently stood out when comparing Avila to any of our pitchers, starting or otherwise, and the biggest difference I could see. I'm not sure why pitchers strike out more batters with Avila. Maybe it has to do with his pitch framing, as that article posted earlier in the thread pointed out that Avila ranked high in the league in that regard. Maybe it has something to do with superior game-calling. Fister's numbers especially are ridiculous with Avila. And obviously, Avila's numbers with Verlander are very good, but you could argue that Avila's simply had the privilege of catching Verlander in his awesome years (if you look at just 2012, Avila had the better splits than Laird, for what it's worth). Avila doesn't work especially well with Porcello, it looks like.

Well, take it for what it's worth. You could always say that Avila's main comparison here is Laird, who sucks. Perils of sample sizes and all that. But I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that the pitchers would work more effectively with Avila than with Pena, whether it's to a large degree with some pitchers and a smaller degree with others. How that pans out over the course of the season? Well, we'll probably never know. But as the end-of-the-season run last year showed us, every single game counts, and one game either way could make or break your playoff chances. IMO, Leyland is as likely to catch Avila until he crumbles into catcher dust as he is likely to rest Avila whenever he damn well pleases, who's on the mound and who's backup catcher be damned.

Very nice post, thanks for taking the time to put this together.

I always thought Penny kind of got screwed having to A) pitch a seemingly high amount of day games as the heftiest starter on staff B) have VMart catch him C) inherit the "day shift" lineup which included a lot of Don Kelly and Santiago with other random players here and there.

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