Atlanta Braves Catching: A Wieters Namedrop and Framing; is it the New WAR?

Atlanta Braves GM, John Coppolella, was on MLB Radio today, and he uttered the name Matt Wieters. He also shot down the thought of bringing Wieters to SunTrust Park … Or did he? Also, what’s the obsession with ‘framing’?

First thing’s first. Matt Wieters is not going to be with the Atlanta Braves, at least, I don’t think he is. I don’t dislike Wieters, but I am comfortable with a system of Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki.

However, in an interview this morning, Braves GM John Coppolella gave a interesting response on the subject of one Matt Wieters.

Now, I’m not one to stir the pot, but I’d like to draw your attention to one word: “COULD”. Not could have or would have, but could.

Now, this may be the words that spilled out at the moment in time. It probably means nothing, really. But, what if it didn’t?

Did Coppy just let an itty-bitty kitten out of the bag, on accident? It’s no real secret the Braves have been in contact with him, but as Coppy points out, is the bid and the ask worth it?

After seeing this, I thought, “No. No, we just signed Suzuki. He’s not considering this, is he?” The use of the word “could” made it sound like it was a high probability (it’s not) and we are just waiting on the details to come out.

Then, the topic of pitch framing came up on Twitter.

Is Pitch Framing the New WAR?

I appreciate the use and application of sabermetrics. I also understand that you can’t use singular stats to overall evaluate a player at his position or at the plate.

Framing, to me, is becoming the second coming of WAR. WAR seems to be the go-to for every evaluation out there and the judgment for each individual player. Simply put, it is not.

To get a true overall evaluation, I believe a complete picture is needed. A Total Player Concept or Construct (TPC), as I like to think of it.

WAR should be applied in conjunction with other metrics. Thus, pitch framing should not be the only metric used to determine the value of a catcher, defensively.

That being said, there is merit to the framing metric. There’s also a correct way to use WAR, and in perfect fashion, Braves Options Guy gives us an example

(NOTE: fWAR simply means that this is FanGraphs calculation of WAR. Baseball-Reference uses rWAR).

WAR is better used when comparing multiple players over a certain length of time or one player’s career length.

However, framing, for a catcher has been the make-or-break metric in the last 2 to 3 years, it seems. There are other measures by which to evaluate a catcher.

If you’d like to get to know some of them, I recommend StatCorner. I find their catcher ratings and rankings much easier to follow and comprehend. FanGraphs has a fairly well-rounded system as well.

Baseball Prospectus‘ catching metrics assign run values to their stats for catchers, and major league scouting and development teams swear by them.

That said, Lee points out an interesting tidbit, as it applies to Braves current backstop, Tyler Flowers.

This is not a knock on Chris Sale. Sale is a great pitcher, indeed, but this has to make you wonder, how much of a pitchers’ success is just the pitcher? This would lead me to believe otherwise.

The pitcher, obviously, has to get it close to the plate and have the skill and wherewithal to perform at an extraordinary level. To say, though, that it is more the pitcher than it is the catcher, is contended with this little nugget.

There is certainly merit to the framing metrics. But I still ask, is it the all-encompassing metric that we should evaluate catchers by? I don’t think so.

To be clear, I’m not hating on it (WAR), just trying to draw a parallel between that and framing. WAR, when used to compare multiple players over a period of time is valuable, even one player over a career.

I just think there is more to evaluating than just WAR or framing, and framing seems to have become the catcher’s equivalent to WAR.

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