Friday, July 27, 2007

No False Idols Before Jesus

Svrluga writes the latest hagiography of this year's sacred cow, Brian Schneider. He's battered, bruised, a force, blah blah blah.

I'm sick to death of all the fawning coverage of the guy. And it bothers me because I SHOULD like Schneider. Certainly he's a hard worker who's battled like hell. But the tone of coverage of him just pisses me off. It seems like everyone's working overtime to explain why he's a valuable player despite not being able to turn on a pitch from a one-armed little leaguer. As his offense has gone in the tank, legend of his defensive prowess has grown to a point that even the biggest Jeter fanboy (Count DA RingzZZ!1! / Captain Intangible, etc) is starting to wretch.

(To be fair to Svrulga, his isn't quite a hagiography, but we're at the point in the coverage where I wince anytime I see "Snyder's" name. It's like when you were a freshman and drank screwdrivers til you puked. What was it? Two weeks before you could walk by the OJ dispenser in the cafeteria without having a gag reflex?)

He's a fine player and deserves credit, but let's not overdo it as we fall all over ourselves to stand in line to give him a good tug or two.

Anyway, as always, I wanted to see what the numbers say. I'm not ascribing any sort of value to these. Defense is hard to value. Catcher's defense is practically impossible. I was just interested to see how they looked.
2007          W   L    %    Ave   OPS
Schneider 31 49 .388 .271 .780
Flores 12 9 .571 .243 .704

2006 W L % Ave OPS
Schneider 45 66 .405 .280 .816
Fick 14 8 .636 .263 .761
Harper 5 8 .385 .271 .830
Wiki 6 5 .545 .266 .707
Lecroy 5 6 .455 .239 .671

2005 W L % Ave OPS
Schneider 52 53 .495 .264 .734
PB Bennett 22 21 .512 .259 .714
Osik 0 0 --- .294 1.062

Records are from games they started. Average and OPS are what the Nats' pitchers did while they were behind the plate in all games.

I don't think you can really take anything from them. There's not enough spread between any of them (especially when you factor in the sample size) to point to an AHA!

I just think it's interesting that Schneider isn't head and shoulders above any of 'em. In fact, he's worse by these stats than most every other catcher. I certainly don't think that that means that he's a worse catcher than Wiki Gonzalez!

I've written a lot about how the numbers often back up the scouting reports. This is one case where they don't. I just find that interesting. Puzzling, but interesting.


  • Chris,

    Interesting when you look at the numbers. I would have guessed that B. Schneider would have had better defensive numbers than "the others." (Your sample size comment is duly noted.)

    I have always felt that Schneider was promoted as the true face of the Nationals' franchise since they arrived in DC. Sure, Wilkerson was very visible and marketable, but from the beginning Schneider was the solid catcher who came up through the Expos' system, was a steadying influence on the staff, yada, yada, yada. He's had the halo effect from the very beginning and it has not eroded.

    By Blogger Kyle, at 7/27/2007 1:18 PM  

  • That's a good point. Schneider has definitely been out front.

    Part of that, it seems, is that he's one of the guys who's really thoughtful and speaks a lot to the press. So we see more of him than some of the other players. (And that's probably part of the reason why they defend him; they're sticking up for someone they like)

    Like I said... I don't think the numbers mean anything alone. But they tell a different story.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 7/27/2007 1:23 PM  

  • heck, just basing on these numbers, the Nats should re-sign LeCroy to be the everyday catcher ...

    By Anonymous e, at 7/27/2007 1:29 PM  

  • Exactly! That's why I had the sample size caveat. I don't think 10 games is gonna do it! ;)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 7/27/2007 1:32 PM  

  • If nothing else, this was worth reading for the Captain Intangibles comment. I think Kyle makes a great point about Schneider being more or less the face of the organization since 2005. I think we're seeing a bit of a shift to Zimmerman now. Carpenter was making some HOF comparisons yesterday on the broadcast.

    By Anonymous MF, at 7/27/2007 1:56 PM  

  • I have been saying all season long on this blog that Flores should be catching more. What's not to like about him? In Viera, he hit a ton and then when he came north, Acta left him at the end of the bench. As opposed to Schneider (who can't his a lick), Jesus can hit and hit with power. He seems to be a good defensive catcher too. The Nats have a winning record when he catches. They have a losing record by a wide margin when Schneider catches. If "The Plan" is all about the future, then it's a no brainer to catch Flores and to sit Schneider.

    By Anonymous phil dunn, at 7/27/2007 2:17 PM  

  • Sample size is part of it, but also keep in mind Flores gets a lot of getaway-day starts. The opposition often isn't playing its best guys under those circumstances.

    By Anonymous Basil, at 7/27/2007 3:04 PM  

  • Good point. That's what I was getting at with sample size. It's not just the number of opportunities, but the selection as well.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 7/27/2007 3:06 PM  

  • In response to Schnieder not hitting, check out his splits:

    vs. Left:
    .173 avg; .298 obp; .213 slg

    vs. Right:
    .249 avg; .313 obp; .351 slg

    and Flores':

    vs. Left:
    .326 avg; .415 obp; .522 slg

    vs. Right:
    .200 avg; .250 obp; .244 slg

    I think a platoon system should be in place where Schneider bats against righties and Flores against lefties.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/27/2007 3:53 PM  

  • also don't forget the ever-decreasing BA, OBP and slg % for the aptly-named schneid over these past three years:

    05 - .268/.330/.409
    06 - .256/.320/.329
    07 - .229/.308/.314

    the decline in power numbers is absolutely stunning. compare schneid's 07 numbers to these:


    any guesses? yep, those are the 07 numbers the nookster. and when one of your team's stalwarts is slugging less than nook logan, well, i think we all know that's a BIG problem!

    By Blogger Bill, at 7/27/2007 3:58 PM  

  • Anyway you look at it, Schneider is playing too many innings.

    As the numbers suggest, Schneider has not established himself as statistically superior.

    If the Nats believe that Schneider will be their #1 catcher for many more seasons, why beat him up by playing him 5 and 6 games a week?

    Simply stated, there is no down-side to platooning Flores and Schneider. The Nats get a more detailed look at Flores, and he gains experience. The wear and tear on Schneider is reduced.

    This one seems like such a no-brainer (especially given Schnieder's number against lefties).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/27/2007 4:31 PM  

  • Chris, don't forget Catcher ERA and SB% which also tell a lot about a catcher's performance... both of which show a superior Jesus Flores.

    ERA with Catcher (both in starts and off bench)
    Jesus Flores 3.48 in 199 innings
    Brian Schneider 4.92 in 706 innings

    SB/CS (CS%)
    Jesus Flores 11/6 (35.2%)
    Brian Schneider 31/16 (34.0%)

    By Anonymous King, at 7/27/2007 5:29 PM  

  • I keep wondering if Flores could play some OF or even 1B occasionally just so to get him some more ABs. Has he ever played any position besides Catcher in his professional career? They wouldn't be burning their only backup catcher by doing this, assuming Fick still owns his mitt.

    By Anonymous sec 515, at 7/27/2007 5:31 PM  

  • The difference in win% between Flores starts and Schneider starts is almost certainly more attributable to their offensive difference than defensive differences. According to fangraphs, Flores is first on the team in WPA, despite only having 101 plate appearances. Schneider is dead last. Like Basil said, the differences in CERA and OPS against are probably partially due to playing in day games where regulars get the day off (this probably wouldn't affect W% though, since the Nats lineup would be worse also).

    The problem with a platoon, I think, is that if Flores is the catcher of the future, he's got to learn to hit right-handers at some point. He's not going to get better by not seeing any. If he's only going to be starting a handful of games, you'd like some of them to be against right-handers.

    We also can't read too much into his platoon splits. I don't doubt that Flores hits lefties better than righties, but the difference is probably not as extreme as it appears, we've got sample size issues here also. 48 PA against RHP do not indicate true talent level, nor do his 53 PA against lefties. His minor league splits are much less extreme.

    By Blogger Will, at 7/27/2007 6:33 PM  

  • One point on WPA -- that's all come in the last week, with the 3 huge hits he's had. That's not necessarily reflective of his talent, but of his 'luck'. He also gets a TON of credit for the Rockies RFer's error, as the two tying runs score to Flores' credit.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 7/27/2007 6:37 PM  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/21/2009 5:01 AM  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/22/2009 10:47 PM  

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