Breaking Down Chris Wallace's Defense: The Statistics

Chris Wallace

Yesterday, I broke down Chris Wallace based on his scouting reports and the eye of those who have seen him play.  Today, we are gonna dive into statistics in a way that may seem unorthodox.  But, thats what we do around here from time to time.  I mentioned the passed balls stat in yesterday's post so we are going to focus the whole article on his ability to throw out runners.

There are basically two segments to throwing out baserunners; pitcher to catcher, catcher to fielder.  Both segments have to be quick in order to create the best chance to get a baserunner out.  The first segment has a few factors that come into play that affect that segment.  There is the quickness of the delivery and there is even the pitch type that affects the time to the plate of the ball.  In the second segment, we have fancy little "pop times" to measure that.  As for Chris Wallace's pop time, I was only able to find one from Perfect Game in which he recorded a 2.09 back in 2004. For reference, solid ML pop times are sub 2.00 and great pop times are 1.80, so as a high schooler he was almost in ML range for pop times.

I've been told that not everyone will understand what exactly a pop time is. So, I'm going to break this down just a bit for some of ya'll. The stopwatch starts when the ball hits the mit and it stops when the ball reaches the second baseman. There are quite a few things that go on during that time including: footwork, glove-to-hand transfer, and arm strength. As a catcher develops you would expect just slight improvements in arm strength but you would like to see a lot of improvement in footwork and transfers. Those three improvements can really improve a pop time since it's such a small window.

So, if all of those factors in his pop time point to an improved pop time into the ML range, why are his CS% so low? If TCVfan says, "The thing that sticks out to me was how good he would throw to the bases. Never afraid to make snap throws, strong and accurate," why is his CS% so low? That's what I want to figure out.

I think we have set up the potential situation where this could be a direct result of a slow first segment. I believe I read a comment from StrosSouth that stated the vast majority of the pitchers in Corpus are pretty slow to the plate. So, that is a definite hypothesis as to the reason for the drop. Lets see if we can statistically prove this hypothesis.  I gathered some data together of all of the catchers that spent a significant amount of time at Corpus this year and here are the results.

Chris Wallace
Year Level CS/SB CS% Games Att/GM
2010 Rookie 13/22 37% 30 1.17
2010 SS-A 11/14 56% 18 1.39
2011 A- 7/11 39% 31 0.58
2011 AA 3/26 10% 27 1.07

You'll notice a huge drop in CS% as well as a big increase in steal attempts per game this season between Lexington to Corpus. But, the attempts per game is much more appropriate.

Emerson Frostad
2009 AAA 8/39 18% 32 1.47
2011 AA 8/36 17% 39 1.13

Frostad only played six games at catcher last season and has never recorded good caught stealing percentage.

Brian Esposito
2006 AAA 17/34 33% 48 1.06
2007 AAA 26/66 28% 73 1.26
2008 AA 17/40 36% 66 0.86
2009 AA 8/22 27% 49 0.61
2009 AAA 3/11 21% 28 0.50
2010 AA 5/9 36% 14 1.00
2010 AAA 8/21 28% 43 0.67
2011 AA 5/31 14% 24 1.50
2011 AAA 5/8 38% 14 0.93
You'll see a pretty large drop at AA this year for Esposito's caught stealing percentage. The attempts per game are even a little high for him, so it could suggest that despite his reputation of a pretty solid arm, teams feel they can steal with slower pitchers.

Federico Hernandez
2010 A+ 26/87 23% 77 1.47
2010 AA 4/10 29% 18 0.78
2011 A+ 14/26 35% 24 1.67
2011 AA 12/34 26% 48 0.96

Hard to gather much from Hernandez's numbers but he has a pretty significant drop in his caught stealing percentage numbers in AA, advancing a level you would expect one. But that large of one, maybe not. Another bit to take away is that his Lancaster numbers from last season were low as well. Guess what, of the top ten pitchers (in innings pitched) in Corpus this season, five spent at least half of the season in Lancaster last year. Dallas Keuchel is the only one to have not pitched the whole season in Lancaster last year.

It's difficult to get a larger sample size as catchers and pitchers get moved around a good bit in the Minor Leagues and we're having to isolate data to just one season.  So, this is what we're left with.

There's not really a whole lot of significant data to support the hypothesis that I've put forth. But, there is definitely not enough data to truly prove the hypothesis wrong. Nobody is looking at Wallace to be the next Pudge Rodriguez behind the plate, but we are definitely hoping for a catcher who can provide some offense as well as not be able to throw a few runners out to avoid the JR Towles treatment. While overall, his numbers aren't phenomenal at throwing out base runners, he can probably be serviceable and is likely better than what his AA numbers indicate.

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