What the heck space catcher pop times? these days, fans are inundated with new numbers. Here"s just how to sound smart in 5 easy steps.Wendell Cruz/USA this particular day Sports
In early March, MLB.com rolled the end a new stat: catcher pop times. A combination of two procedures (arm strength and the quickness of transport from catch to throw), popular music times usage Statcast to time just how long a catcher takes to ship a baseball to 2nd base during stolen-base attempts.

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A new stat! throw it right into the baseball-stat mix, together with launch angles, Deserved run Average, meant weighted on-base average, tunnel distance, capture probability, rotate axis and also literally dozens that other measures that not just didn"t exist 50 year ago, however didn"t exist 5 or 10 years ago. The are, for that matter, based on understandings the the game that didn"t exist much more than five or 10 year ago.

The Radical principles Series
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Call united state crazy, however we have actually three not-so-modest proposals for revolutionizing baseball.

Part I: What if every team made the playoffs?

Part II: What if players acquired paid top top commission?

Part III: What if teams might bid for more home games?

A baseball fan in ahead generations spent time discovering players" stats. Now, the fan needs to learn the stats -- literally, what they are, what lock do, why they exist and how to express them without sounding favor a doof. Every year brings brand-new data, far better data, brand-new interpretations of this new and much better data, a many introspection and also some skepticism of all this brand-new data, and, ultimately, a lot of new stats. It can be exciting but additionally intimidating, and also sometimes confusing.

It needn"t be. When a new stat comes out, us follow a process to identify not whether it"s a great stat, but how it"s a great stat -- exactly how to recognize its purpose, how to enable for the limitations, exactly how to evaluate it for exactly what it is and how to make it useful.

We ask five questions.

1. What does that look like?

Last year, the Padres" young defensive star Austin Hedges had actually the fastest pop time in baseball, at 1.86 secs on average, v 90th percentile arm strength and 75th percentile exchange times. Phillies rookie Jorge Alfaro threw the round the fastest -- 89.8 mph, and also he"s also faster this year, in ~ 90.1 mph. J.T. Realmuto litter 87.6 mph, the second-fastest, but even catchers with bad arms can be rapid if castle have fast transfers. Kris Stewart"s throw don"t cracked 80 mph, but he"s gained the fastest exchange rate in the game, and also his 1.94 popular music time was one of the 10 finest last year.

Yadier Molina and also Salvador Perez to be both much faster than median last year, as you might have expected, yet Gary Sanchez was also faster. Miguel Montero -- who gained in a feud in Chicago v his pitchers over that deserved blame for stolen bases -- had one that the slowest popular music times in the game. Tyler flower was the slowest. The difference in between a 90th percentile popular music time and also a 10th percentile popular music time is just .15 seconds, a blink that provides all the difference.

It looks like this:

2. What does that purport to tell me?

Here"s the official definition: "Pop Time steps the time from the moment the pitch hits the catcher"s mitt to the minute the round reaches the fielder"s projected receiving suggest at the facility of the base." It"s how rapid it takes the catcher to walk from catching a round to gaining it every the method to second base.

MLB.com division this metric increase from there: the amount of time the took because that the catcher to do the exchange (i.e., time elapsed between catching the ball and also releasing it) and the rate of the litter to second (which, that course, correlates with the moment elapsed in between his publication the ball and the ball"s come at second). It likewise splits the pop times right into two buckets: popular music times on stolen bases (the catcher failed) and pop time on caught stealings (the catcher succeeded).

A stolen-base effort is a race in between the runner and also the pitcher/catcher/middle infielder, so popular music time tells us how quick the catcher ran his leg of the race. The measures, really precisely, a part of the game that hinges on hundredths of a second.

Now, the score of the catcher isn"t to be genuine fast, but to throw the jogger out, therefore one could argue the this metric is placing a number top top something that is related to but not the yes, really objective. Which is fine: No stat answers every question, and also every stat pipeline something out.

3. What does it leaving out?

At least three things, every one of them crucial to passing last judgment ~ above the catcher"s performance. One is how accurate the litter was. It"s difficult to litter a runner out, no matter how fast you are, if the litter is 85 feet above the shortstop. Not just does popular music time no answer this, but a catcher"s speed could, in part cases, be an impediment to accuracy. Accuracy and speed could actually be in conflict with every other.

That"s due to the second far-ranging thing this stat pipeline out, i m sorry is how lot time the catcher had. An average significant league popular music time is 2.0 seconds. If there were a hypothetical catcher whose average pop times were slower than that yet who to win the runner by one-hundredth the a 2nd every solitary time, we can deduce no that he"s a slower-than-average thrower, but that he has actually a good internal clock and knows specifically what he"s doing. He can be taking his time since he have the right to afford to, and because it helps him throw an ext accurately.

Indeed, the full pop-time data has actually a way of confounding analysis. Last season, around two-thirds the catchers were slow on captured stealings 보다 on successful stolen bases. Slow throws were more likely to result in outs than faster throws. That argues there"s a many this going on: as soon as the catcher knows the runner has actually a an excellent jump and also likely has actually the basic stolen, the puts a premium top top quickness -- perhaps at the cost of accuracy, in a no hope calculation. Once he to know the basic stealer has actually a negative jump or is a slow runner, he makes sure the delivers the round accurately, at the expense of his popular music time. As Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph put it to me this month, "I could go out and throw a 1.79, because I know just how to cheat the system" -- but, he said, those wouldn"t necessarily be his best, most accurate throws, and hopping the end of his crouch early on could cost his pitcher a referred to as strike.

Consider, because that example, two Russell boy name throws this season. In one, the is videotaped as having a 1.93-second popular music time, a note only two catchers were quicker than (on average) last season.

In the other, he has actually a 2.36-second popular music time, a time you"d suppose to see at a high college game:

But, that course, the 1.93 wasn"t fast sufficient -- young name hopped out of his crouch early, possibly a desperate measure to shot to capture up to Rajai Davis" terrific jump -- and the 2.36 remained in plenty the time. ~ above a spreadsheet, a 2.36 makes Martin look at terrible. But, in context, the 2.36 was Martin performing come his objective quite than to our stat.

The third far-ranging thing left out is wherein the pitch was. Here"s a important elite popular music time: Realmuto"s 1.80, among the more quickly of the year:

An 88 mph throw! A 0.54-second transfer. Wonderful stuff, something come appreciate. Is it as superior as this, though?

That"s a 2.33-second pop time, a 1.01-second transfer and also an 80 mph litter -- yet on a pitch in the dirt, on one all-arm throw. It"s incredible. Together Joseph put it, miming the difficulty of transforming a dirty slider into a transfer and throw: "This is the game."

It"s crucial to be an accurate with how we think of these things. "What it pipeline out" is no "why it"s bad," or also "why it"s occasionally wrong." Rather, it"s "how perform we usage this together data without being led into a trap?" This question is essential for every stat over there has ever before been. Even WAR, i beg your pardon attempts to include everything that have the right to be measured, leaves out a ton -- most notably, whatever that can"t it is in measured.

4. What kind of stat is it?

We usage one word, however "stat" consists a huge selection of measures, with different purposes and also different levels of human intervention. Until the 1980s or so, many of united state knew three species of stats:

1. Counting stats: hits, strikeouts, outfield assists2. Typical stats: batting average, ERA, fielding percentage.3. Credit transaction stats: saves, wins, game-winning RBIs

We were conscious of yet didn"t normally have consistent accessibility to:

4. Target "scouting" stats: pitcher velocity, runner"s time from house to first5. Separation stats -- counting or average stats, chopped increase by live independence variables: batter vs. Pitcher matchup stats, vs. Lefties, in ~ home, etc.

And follow me the way came bill James, Pete Palmer, job Scoresheet, digital hobbyists, Baseball Prospectus, The Book and Baseball-Reference.com sabermetrics. A many what they occurred were a much more sophisticated variation of ahead stat species -- wOBA, for instance, is a an ext sophisticated average stat based on a more sophisticated counting stat, and also UZR is a much more sophisticated fielding percent with a much more sophisticated denominator. Win Probability added is a more sophisticated credit transaction stat. However they additionally introduced brand-new types:

6. Context-adjusted stats, such together OPS+ or wRC+, i m sorry don"t just count events, but readjust them based upon how much much easier or more daunting the context (ballpark, era, level the competition) makes each accomplishment.7. Predictive stats, such together xBABIP, Fielding elevation Pitching, record percentage or hard-hit sphere rates, which relocate away from results to estimate exactly how well a player"s power "should" have actually turned right into value.8. Player value stats, such as WAR, which take it every piece of the chicken, mash the up and also reconstitute it right into a very delicious chicken tender.

And, finally, Statcast, PITCHf/x and also commercial scouting services have given us the capacity to explain every aspect of player and also in-process movement:

9. Neutral descriptive information, like changeup usage, fielder positioning information and also release point, every one of which could have been observed in previous generations yet not measured.10. Semi-neutral descriptive information, such as horizontal pitch movement, non-fastball key velocities and also launch-angle explanation that might have qualitative worth in mix with other metrics, or in transforms over durations of time.11. Most likely non-neutral descriptive information, such together release-point consistency, turn rate, leave velocity, course efficiency and tunneling. Though us might call these stats an ext sophisticated, an ext accurate version of group 4 stats: objective scouting information.

Catcher pop times room a group 4 stat. It"s a classic objective scouting metric, recorded by every scout with a stopwatch for decades. Statcast lastly gives us accessibility to the scout"s stopwatch and also it offers us much more precise times, and it does therefore for almost all throws, not simply the ones friend or a scout occur to be sit on. They"re likewise a classification 10 or 11 stat.

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5. Does it tell me that is good? walk it execute so better than my own eyes and/or what"s already out there? just how should I use it?

Pop times describe how well a catcher physically performed a baseball action -- threw to second base -- there is no necessarily showing exactly how effectively that did it. In a most ways, it"s equivalent to acceleration speed, which can"t tell friend how an excellent a player is in ~ stealing bases or chasing under fly balls but can certainly tell you the speed he sprints.