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Is Kurt Suzuki Having an Uncharacteristically Bad Year At Throwing Runners Out?

Update: Apparently, Fangraphs' SB and CS numbers include pickoffs. So these numbers are a little off. Sorry about that.

Not really. He's actually having his best year since 2008. Sadly.



I'm going to go through this table column by column.

  • Innings: Number of innings behind the plate, obviously.
  • SB: Stolen bases allowed.
  • CS: Runners caught trying to steal.
  • CS%: Caught stealing percentage, which is just CS divided by the number of attempts (SB+CS).
  • lgCS%: The league average caught stealing percentage. It's pretty constant aside from 2007, which was down by a little. If you calculate the average from 2000-2011, the league average CS% comes out to 29.1%, which is a bit higher than recent figures. Apparently, earlier in the decade, either runners were a bit worse, or catchers and pitchers were a bit better at catching them.
  • RAA: Runs above average, as detailed here by Matt Klaassen. The baseline is, as you can guess, the league average caught stealing rate for that year. This is a counting stat, so the more chances a catcher gets, the more opportunities he has for accruing runs. (By the way, that article by Klaasen goes into other aspects of catcher defense, like passed balls and errors. It's pretty awesome. Go check it out.)

Now, of course, the biggest issue with these numbers is that catching baserunners isn't just a function of the catcher. The pitchers and the infielders are partially to blame, and with the unbalanced schedule, it's possible that a team could face really speedy baserunners more often than most. If it's true that Oakland's pitchers are bad at holding runners on, and that the division is filled with guys that rack up stolen bases, then Kurt would be unfairly punished. If only there was another catcher who had to deal with all of the same things that Suzuki did...


Well, crap.

The A's are in Canada for the next few days, as they face the Blue Jays. First pitch tonight (Harden vs. Cecil) is at 4:07 PM PDT.