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Campaign Season: Using FUBAR to Gauge MLB All-Star Catcher Candidates

Felipe Melecio uses advanced stats to predict which MLB catchers should be in the 2015 MLB All Star Game.

DFS


We’re nearing the quarter-mark of the MLB season and teams are attempting to get their fan bases to vote for their players using the most democratic process known to man–voting early, voting often:

As we noted last year, fans can get carelessly irresponsible with their powers to vote, usually voting for players who are nowhere near deserving of receiving All-Star nods. If comic books have taught as anything is that “with great power comes…” well you guys know the rest of that line.

Well, at least you should…

So in an effort to help our readers make the most informed decision the next time they vote, consider this a guide to voting for this year’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati. Remember, Major League Baseball wants you to consider the #ASGWorthy players this year. Let’s make sure we elect the right people this season, ok?

FUBAR

Once again, we use Felipe’s Ultimate Baseball Advanced Rankings (or FUBAR for short). We already have an idea who the starting pitchers should be as we released our top 22 starting pitchers last week. Now we concentrate on the hitters, starting with catchers.

For those new to this, FUBAR is a composite score using the most popular, advanced stats available to us. We are looking for position players who have demonstrated the best of the following criteria:

  1. Offensive Production
  2. Plate Discipline
  3. Base Running
  4. Fielding

Each player gets awarded points for ranking in the top 10 in each statistical category being used to compute FUBAR. So for catchers, they get awarded 230 points for finishing first in a stat, 180 for finishing second, and so on and so forth.

Offensive Production

We use two stats to measure production: Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA–basically, not all hits are created equal) and Isolated Power (ISO–a stat that measures power).

Currently, our best-hitting catcher is Stephen Vogt, beating out our next, best-hitting catcher by 90 points.

  1. Stephen Vogt: 460.00 points
  2. Russell Martin: 370.00
  3. Yasmani Grandal: 255.00
  4. Derek Norris: 225.00

For those who don’t know, this is what he looks like:

Plate Discipline

FUBAR uses three stats to measure discipline at the plate: Walk Percentage (BB%), Strikeout Percentage (K%), and Walk:Strikeout (BB:K), as we attempt to reward those players who have shown the ability to take walks and limit their strikeouts.

Here are the catchers with the best “batting eye” according to FUBAR:

  1. Buster Posey: 180.00
  2. Stephen Vogt: 135.00
  3. Yasmani Grandal: 113.33
  4. Kurt Suzuki: 108.33

Base Running

As funny as this sounds, catchers still have to run the bases. Some catchers are better than others in this category.

We use two stats to measure base running: Ultimate Base Running (UBR—a way to quantify the value of a player’s base running skills) and Weighted Stolen Base Runs (wSB–basically, how many runs did a player contribute by stealing runs). For a more detail look at these two stats, click here.

Vogt once again takes another category for the AL as his base running skills have been recognized by the analytics.

In the NL, relative newcomer, J.T. Realmuto has held his own on the base paths without looking too foolish.

Best Overall Offensive Catcher

Combining all the offensive components, production, base running, and plate discipline, the following are the best, overall offensive catchers according to FUBAR:

  1. Stephen Vogt: 765.00
  2. Russell Martin: 533.33
  3. Yasmani Grandal: 440.83
  4. Derek Norris: 340.00
  5. Buster Posey: 300.00

Fielding

FUBAR uses two stats to compute for defense: Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). For further explanation on both of these stats, please read our more detailed look on defense.

However, since UZR does not keep track of catcher defensive values, we lean heavily on DRS.

Seattle Mariners’ Mike Zunino beats out Russell Martin in the American League. Derek Norris gets the nod in the National League.

All-Star Catchers

Now it’s time to put all these numbers together and figure out who deserves to be in this year’s All-Star Game as of mid-May.

Based on all components put together, the best catcher in baseball is Stephen Vogt. He’s the best hitter, base runner, and has the best batting eye in the AL. It would almost be criminal for Vogt to not receive votes at the moment because he has proven his worth early on this season.

Here’s a quick look at the rest of the Catchers’ rankings, with the assumption that only two catchers from each league will be called upon to play in the exhibition game:

  1. Stephen Vogt: 865.00 points (AL Starter)
  2. Russell Martin: 650.83 (AL Reserve)
  3. Derek Norris: 452.50 (NL Starter)
  4. Yasmani Grandal: 440.83 (NL Reserve)
  5. Buster Posey: 357.50
  6. Jason Castro: 290.00

So if you’re voting early and often, vote Vogt in the American League. If you vote for Grandal in the National League, we won’t hold it against you.

Stats courtesy of fangraphs.com and are good through May 16, 2015.

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