Personal Catchers: Noah Syndergaard Isn’t Wrong, BUT…

By Danielle McCartan (@CoachMcCartan and www.Facebook.com/CoachMcCartan)

BERGEN COUNTY, N.J. – Look, the idea of a pitcher having a ‘personal catcher’ is not a new one.  It is not a revolutionary concept. It is also not going away because, quite frankly, for some pitchers, it works.

Andy Pettitte, whose #46 was retired in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park in 2015, might be the most notable pitcher in the collective recent memory of New Yorkers (besides Noah Syndergaard) to employ this strategy. As Leyritz explained to me: “It started the year before, when Andy first got called up in ’95. Him and…Stanley weren’t clicking and he asked Buck Showalter if he could have me catch him once…. For some reason, he pitched really well and it clicked. From that point on, I became his personal catcher. It was just something that we could read each other’s completely different personalities, but somehow they meshed together.”

Jim Leyritz was Pettitte’s choice at catcher, not Mike Stanley. Pettitte’s career statistics prove that Pettitte and Leyritz were a better, more effective duo. The choice as to who would catch when Pettitte pitched was obvious.

With Leyritz, Pettitte…

  • Pitched deeper into games.
  • Had a better strikeout to walk ratio.
  • Possessed a lower earned run average.
  • Opposing hitters owned a lower batting average.
  • Opposing hitters owned a lower on-base plus slugging percentage.

When looking at the 1995 and 1996 season, Leyritz (NYY) and Stanley (NYY/BOS) were comparable in terms of batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Both were approximately .25 points under the Yankees’ collective average batting average in 1996. In 1996, it didn’t matter that Leyritz was hitting under the team’s average, because the rest of the Yankees’ lineup picked up the offensive slack for him!

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The offensive production of the 2019 New York Mets is not equal to that of the 1996 World Series winning New York Yankees… and it’s not close.

So when taking a closer look at Syndergaard’s pitching statistics after his conversation about requesting a personal catcher leaked, one can see, clear as day, that he is a more effective pitcher with Tomas Nido, rather than Wilson Ramos, behind the plate.

With Nido, Syndergaard…

  • Pitches deeper into games.
  • Has a better strikeout to walk ratio.
  • Possessed a (drastically) lower earned run average.
  • Opposing hitters owned a lower batting average.
  • Opposing hitters owned a lower on-base plus slugging percentage.

Have you seen these sentences before? These are the exact, same bullet points I used to describe the Pettitte and Leyritz/Stanley partnership. There is no doubt that Nido is a better catcher for Syndergaard for whatever reason: personalities, approach to the game, self-fulfilling prophecy… one can’t peg it for certain.

The problem with him requesting Nido is not the fact that Syndergaard asked, it is simply the fact that Ramos is tremendously better than Nido offensively.

  1. Ramos has a batting average about 100 points higher than Nido’s.
  2. Ramos has an on-base percentage about 150 points higher than Nido’s.
  3. Ramos has an on-base + slugging percentage over 200 points higher than Nido’s.

The 2019 Mets simply cannot afford to take Ramos’ bat out of the lineup every fifth day. That is the issue with Syndergaard’s request for a personal catcher. There’s still, miraculously, something to be had by these Mets- a wild card birth.

For that reason, when the Dodgers came to town on Friday, September 13, I completely supported Mets manger Mickey Callaway’s decision to stick with Ramos over Nido behind the plate for Syndergaard’s start.  In the end, it didn’t matter, the Mets “were pummeled by the Dodgers”, 9-2.  Even Siri knows it.IMG_8591.jpg

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