Thursday, January 29, 2015

Better Sox Catchers Could Help Robbie Ross

(USAToday Sports)
Jeff Sullivan of the authoritative makes an interesting case that new Red Sox reliever Robbie Ross could be significantly helped by a better catching corps in Boston. Based on Sullivan's analysis, Ross—who started a lot for the Ranger last year— suffered disproportionately from strike zone-related issues. Specifically, as a starter, Ross had the highest rate of pitches taken by batters within the strike zone that were called balls. Part of this is due to the framing skills of catchers. In Christian Vazquez and Ryan Hanigan, Ross will be tossing to two of the best receivers in the game. As Sullivan says, "With better catchers, he’ll either get more strikes, or he’ll be able to move out of the zone a bit more often, generating more swings and misses and weak contact." Ross will likely be used exclusively as a reliever by Boston, but part of his acquisition was probably as starter insurance should someone in the rotation get hurt or under-perform. Either way, Ross should more closely match his 2012 and 2013 numbers rather than the dismal ones he put up in 2014.