One of my favorite things to do lately is check in on the Stat of the Day over at Baseball Reference. I’m trying to learn how to properly use their Play Index tool, and the stat of the day page helps to show the power of the PI.
This past Friday, the topic was Chris Carpenter and his ability to prevent runners from stealing bases.
The number is staggering, considering the criteria. Over 1000 innings pitched, right handed pitcher (those dang lefties have an advantage!). Carpenter ranks best at preventing the steal, holding would-be base-stealers to a 38% success rate.
Now, you might say, Yadier Molina has surely had something to do with that. Lest we forget, Carp had 135 starts with the Blue Jays compared to only 97 thus far for the Cardinals. Indeed, Darrin Fletcher threw out more runners for Carp than has Molina (or even Molina AND Mike Matheny for that matter.
It is worth pointing out that Carp has had many a strong-armed catcher behind the plate to back him up, from Molina, to Matheny (with both teams), to Benito Santiago, to lesser known guys like Alberto Castillo. Those four and Fletcher all caught at least thirteen of Carpenter’s starts, with Fletcher and Molina getting the bulk at 88 and 65, respectively.
So how to explain then Fletcher’s success, when he’s described in a bio on B-R this way?
He also had a weak throwing arm
For his career, Fletcher threw out about 32% of baserunners trying to steal. When Carpenter was starting? He threw out 22 of 42. Molina has thrown out 12 of 16. In fact, no catcher has allowed more stolen bases than they’ve caught, when combined with Carpenter on the mound.
Pretty impressive, no?
Carpenter has thrown 1537.1 innings in his career. There have only been 94 attempts. That’s one stolen base attempt for every 16 innings pitched. Only 36 attempts have been successful. That’s one stolen base per every 42.2 innings pitched. That’s 6 or 7 games between stolen bases, if Carp is running well on the mound.
Now, others have had good seasons before – notably Jim Palmer in 1977 - but no one has been able to maintain such a success rate against stolen bases for their career. (Palmer allowed SB at about a 62% clip for his career.)
This is one case where it appears the stats don’t lie. Carp is doing something on that mound to keep runners from taking extra bases, and it no doubt has a positive affect on his ability to win.
Now if only he could actually take the mound and pitch…