Tuesday, August 12, 2014

AJ Ellis' Importance is what he does Behind the Plate

I thought JP Hoornstra shared an interesting observation in a brief post at Inside the Dodgers about Correia's performance on Monday, here:
One more postgame note that didn’t quite fit anywhere in the story: One Dodgers player suggested to me that the Twins’ catchers (Kurt Suzuki, Josmil Pinto and Eric Fryer) might have lacked the experience needed to get the most out of Correia during his time in Minnesota. Suzuki is a 30-year-old veteran; Pinto and Fryer are 25 and 28, respectively. Their catchers’ ERA figures correlate inversely to their ages: 4.26, 4.72 and 4.50, respectively. Maybe there’s something to that. Correia certainly was impressed with Ellis’ pitch-calling.  
JP previously wrote the following in his Daily News story:
Correia said that he shook off catcher A.J. Ellis twice out of 82 pitches, “and he was pretty much right on the ones that I shook.”
I've noted before that there's more to being a catcher than his batting average.  In fact, I believe that what a catcher does at the plate is far (FAR) less important than what he does behind it. 

Given that AJ Ellis has consistently been a league leader in Catcher ERA since becoming an everyday starter tells me more than his paltry below the "Mendoza Line" batting average.

Take a look at these numbers:
2014 Catchers ERA     3.24 (5th in MLB assuming he caught enough games)
2013 Catchers ERA     3.06 (1st in MLB)
2012 Catchers ERA     3.33 (2nd in MLB)  

It's about his pitch calling, his preparation, his general understanding of the other batters and his feel for his own pitching staff.  It's the kind of things that remains difficult to quantify, so as a consequence many sabermetrically inclined fans often discount these skillsets.  Obviously, I believe doing so is a mistake.

AJ Ellis is a fine catcher, and I think that the statistical and anecdotal evidence that exist suggest that he just might be one of the finest in the league.

Pic at the very top via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodger 2014.

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2014 Donruss Series 2 Baseball - The Dodger Insert Cards

Following up on yesterday's post, here are the Dodger insert cards that can be found in packs of Donruss Series 2 Baseball.  Go here to see all of my posts on this set.  Tomorrow, I will share photos of the autograph and relic cards.

Elite Dominator Set

#2 Adrian Gonzalez                             #4 Clayton Kershaw

#12 Hyun-Jin Ryu

Elite Series 2 Set

#14 Yasiel Puig

Face to Face Set

#4 Yasiel Puig & Jose Fernandez

#6 Clayton Kershaw & Andrew McCutchen

#8 Hyun-Jin Ryu & Paul Goldschmidt

The Elite Series Set

#16 Hanley Ramirez

The Rookies Set

#19 Alex Guerrero                                #34 Onelki Garcia

There are numerous parallels available of the below Elite insert cards; including various different kind of die-cut cards.  At the very bottom I've collected pics of some examples.

Elite Set

#23 Adrian Gonzalez                            #24 Hanley Ramirez

#25 Yasiel Puig                                 #26 Clayton Kershaw

#67 Hyun-Jin Ryu                                 #90 Alex Guerrero

Below are the parallels that are available.

Turn of the Century parallel (/#199)                       Black Status Die-Cut (/#1)

Red Status Die-Cut (/#25)                           Gold Status Die-Cut (/#49)

Elite Inspirations Die-Cut                               Elite Status Die-Cut

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Blog Kiosk: 8/12/2014 - Dodger Links - Correia Impresses in Dodger Debut

Kevin Correia was outstanding in his starting pitching debut for the Dodgers.  He did everything the internals said he would do, and more.  He threw strikes, walked only one batter and got a lot of ground ball outs.  That is par for the course for Correia.  What was surprising is that he recorded 5 strike outs in six innings pitched; which is higher than normal for him.  Correia is usally a pitch-to-contact hurler, so to get that many swing-and-misses is rare and a blessing.   Overall, you have to appreciate the effort and be thankful that the Dodger brass saw something in Correia that the chattering class did not see.

As it now stands, Correia is expected to go to the bullpen as our long-guy out of the 'pen, and will likely be our first option for a spot start in the future.  Graphic above via @Dodgers on twitter.

The Dodgers are now 5.0 games ahead of the Giants.  Now, here are some more links to check out.
  • Miguel Rojas is now on twitter.  Follow him here: @MRojasOfficial.
  • ICYMI:  The Dodgers optioned Pedro Baez back to Albuquerque in order to officially place Kevin Correia on the 24-man roster.
  • Watch Clayton Kershaw on the Dan Patrick Show at AM570.com.  He speaks about his new-found success hitting, how he changes on game day, the possibility of winning the MVP this year, which hitters own him and why he wanted to stop answering questions about Mike Trout after one game.
  • Who says our bench sucks?  August Fagerstrom at FanGraphs notes that the 2014 Dodgers bench has the highest WAR of all Major League clubs.
Anyway, this list kind of surprised me, but I guess it makes sense considering Justin Turner has provided more value himself than the entire bench units of 28 other teams. Turner has always been a league average hitter who can play all four infield positions, making him a pretty valuable piece off the bench. Then there’s Scott Van Slyke, whose three true outcome approach coupled with his ability to play surprisingly well in the outfield makes him a pretty valuable piece off the bench, too.
  • Last year, I wrote a Collector Spotlight story on a Dodger collector named Fred Kranz.  He was kind enough to share photos from his massive collection; including his garage of dreams.  Check out my story here.  Well, Fred just let me know that his collection has just been spotlighted in the newest issue of ESPN Magazine.  Check out a pic of the feature on the right.
  • It's about time.  Via Wendy Thurm at FanGraphs, "Consumers Suing MLB Over Exclusive Broadcast Territories."
A federal judge in New York ruled on Friday that Major League Baseball will face trial for violations of federal antitrust laws by stemming the exclusive broadcast territories for each of its 30 teams. Several regional sports networks and cable and satellite companies that benefit from the exclusive territories will also face trial on antitrust charges.
  • I used to hate former Kings defenseman Rob Blake for leaving the team, but after many years and a couple Stanley Cup Championships I no longer dislike the guy.  Time can sure mend fan wounds... Oh, and Championships.  That being said, it has just been announced that the Kings will retire Rob Blake's #4 jersey this coming season, via Jon Rosen at the LA Kings Insider.  No matter your thoughts about him, you have to agree that he was one of the more impactful defensemen the Kings have ever had, and he deserves to have his number retired.
  • Just another vintage Baseball find.  Via Lynn Elber at WTOP.com, "PBS' antiques show finds $1 million baseball trove."
She said it's the largest sports memorabilia find in the history of the 19-year-old public TV show, which travels America looking for varied heirlooms and treasures.

The collection was brought to an "Antiques Roadshow" taping Saturday in New York City. The owner inherited it from her great-great-grandmother, who ran a Boston boarding house where the team lived in 1871-72, PBS said.
Tom Bartsch at Sports Collectors Digest has a photo of the find, and lets us know that the episode will air in 2015.
  • Just another reason to hate cable companies.  Another customer service recording has just come to light and it's worse than the last one.  Chris Morran at the Consumerist has the story.  So, tell me again why we should be happy to see TWC join forces with Comcast?  It's a potential marriage in hell. 

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