Why Jose Molina May Always Catch Roberto Hernandez and Alex Cobb | The Process Report

Why Jose Molina May Always Catch Roberto Hernandez and Alex Cobb

When the Rays do something it’s usually by design. So what are we to make of Joe Maddon’s recent deployment of Jose Molina?

After alternating catchers through the first week, Maddon started Molina twice last week in back-to-back games. Those two tail-end games were pitched by Roberto Hernandez and Alex Cobb, two sinkerballers who, in addition to working low in the zone, were caught by Molina the first time through. If there is a reason for Molina serving as Hernandez and Cobb’s personal catchers then here’s a guess: It has to do with the ability to frame fastballs for the low strike.

Observationally Molina appears better than Jose Lobaton at this skill. Sure enough, the numbers support the eye test. Since the start of the 2012 season Molina has turned 44.4 percent of competitive fastballs down in the zone into called strikes. A meager rate without context but Molina ranks fifth league-wide, and the league-average mark is 38 percent. Lobaton checks in just a hair below that league-average mark, at 37.6 percent. (For the curious: Chris Gimenez is at 35.3 percent.) The difference is about six called strikes for every 100 low fastballs.

Here’s a graphical look at the same data:




It’s not a huge difference but perhaps enough of a difference for Maddon to alter his catching assignments.

Stats and visualizations courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info

One Comment

  1. Jason Hanselman wrote:

    If it means that Molina isn’t catching for Hellickson any more then I’m all for it.

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