Written By: Luke Smailes

In September, 6-4-3 Charts introduced a revamped catcher framing tab that’s included in the TrackMan SYNC tile within the 643 interface. Trackman SYNC is designed for programs to seamlessly bring their TrackMan data to life, and the catcher framing tab is devoted to catchers and their receiving abilities.

The catcher framing tab gives coaches a quick look at the receiving strengths and weaknesses of their catchers as they work to help their pitchers win borderline pitches from umpires. The interactive tile allows users to filter on batter or pitcher handedness, pitch types, and date ranges to view more holistic trends and specific zone-by-zone metrics.

Catcher Framing Tab within the SYNC Tile on the 643 Charts Web App.

The structure focuses on the eight shadow zones that represent the outer edges of the plate, or pitches where a catcher’s presentation of a pitch usually has the most impact on the call. We do not include called strikes in the heart of the zone or called balls outside of the shadow zones (commonly called the chase or waste zones). This is in part to not over-clutter the visualization, but also because the umpire’s call on these pitches typically has very little to do with the catcher’s presentation. Pitches in the heart of the zone should always be strikes, and pitches outside of the shadow zones should always be called balls. However, we know that’s not always necessarily the case, so we do credit catchers for converting chase or waste zone pitches into strikes and also debit catchers for losing pitches in the heart of the zone. In other words, we’ll factor in events that were out of the ordinary.

Slider allows users to view each pitch, the colored shadow zones, or both at the same time

Let’s take a look at the tabular layout within Catcher Framing:

Tabular Layout with the Catcher Framing Tab

The first eight rows of the table correspond to the visual shadow zones on the K-zone graphic. You can see the number of pitches that the selected catcher caught in each zone, along with strike rate, framing runs, league average framing runs, and Framing+. You’ll notice that aside from the eight shadow zones, we also include summaries for all pitches in the shadow, heart, and outside of shadow zones. These summaries include all pitches in these zones, so while we don’t display those pitches in the graphic, users can still obtain a comprehensive breakdown for each of these groupings, or all pitches received (and not swung at) in totality in the table above.

Accompanying the pitch totals broken down by zone, the color-shaded strike rate simply displays the percentage of total pitches caught that were called strikes. The shading is meant to add context to each strike rate value. For example, this catcher above is an above average framer at the top of the zone, especially the Top Left Shadow zone at 23.3% (league average in this zone is 11.3%), and you can see his strike rate is shaded a dark red. However, he’s not as good at the bottom of the zone. A strike rate in the low-20s is good at the top of the zone, but not at the bottom, as his Bottom Mid Shadow zone strike rate is more than ten percent lower than the D1 league average in that zone (32.6%), and thus shaded blue.

Utilizing the strike rate values alone is a good way to identify a catcher’s strengths and weaknesses as compared to the rest of the division, and this is what users were able to do in our first iteration of the catcher framing tab. In efforts to build upon the information and application potential of this tab, we wanted to put the value of catcher framing further into context. How much does a borderline pitch won here and a borderline pitch lost there for a catcher really matter over the course of an at-bat, a game, a season, or even a career?

This is where framing runs come into play. After calculating the run values of a ball and strike in every count respectively, we can apply those run values to pitches won or lost by catchers and end with a run total that helps to put that value of framing into context. This run value information tells us that unsurprisingly, the 3-2 pitch is the highest leverage count. The difference of a ball (a walk) and a strike (a strikeout) in a 3-2 count is 0.53 runs on average. When you compare this to the lowest leverage count, 0-0, where the run value differential is only 0.085 runs, we see that all pitches are not created equal. This is where we realize that the strike rate column in the catcher framing tab doesn’t tell us the whole story in terms of the impact of pitch framing.

The count also has an effect on the umpire as well. Back in 2012, Matthew Carruth of FanGraphs found that major league strike zones were 64% larger on 3-0 counts compared to 0-2 counts, so along with the leverage of a 3-0 count being lower than an 0-2 count, we also don’t want to give the catcher the same amount of credit in both situations because umpires subconsciously have different strike zones in different counts.

Each shadow zone and zone grouping has a Total Framing Runs value that’s accompanied by the D1 league average framing runs for that number of pitches caught. For example, in the 297 pitches caught in the Mid Left Shadow zone, this catcher saved just over 14 runs, whereas the league average catcher saves 12.2 runs with that number of pitches caught.

We can also see that in the almost 4,100 pitches caught by this catcher (again, all pitches means only the pitches not swung at), he saved 15.1 runs just from pitch framing. For reference, a win in D1 baseball in 2022 was worth 13 runs (12.1 runs since the start of 2017), so by converting runs to wins, the catcher framing tab tells us that the value of this catcher’s framing is just over one win.

The next step in this latest iteration of the Catcher Framing tab was to make the relationship between Framing Runs and League Average Framing Runs more digestible. How much better is 14.1 runs saved than 12.2 runs saved for this catcher in the Mid Left Shadow zone? The answer is that it’s 15% better, and this is quantified in our new catching metric: Framing+. Framing+ takes this relationship between the catcher in question and the league average catcher, that is otherwise unintuitive to dissect, and normalizes league average to be 100 (the same methodology that’s used for wRC+, OPS+, ERA+, etc.). The result is a metric that provides that same quick contextual information that the color shading of strike rate does. This time, it’s just numerically. This catcher is 15% above average in the Mid Left Shadow zone, but 70% below average in the Bottom Mid Shadow zone with a Framing+ of 30.

Overall, the catcher is 2% below average at pitch framing as denoted by their Framing+ of 98 for all pitches received.

The final step was to make these insights actionable in player development efforts, and with our partnership with Synergy Sports, we’re able to map data between 643, Synergy and TrackMan to create a 1:1:1 relationship where all this data is available. This allows for both point and click functionality to watch video of each pitch and study receiving technique as well as box-selecting a group of pitches to watch them all seamlessly. Users can also add clips to customized playlists that can be sent to players via the 643 Player Portal.

A great example of our vision for the application was applied by University of Washington baseball coach, Parker Guinn. Coach Guinn utilized the Catcher Framing tab throughout the Fall with the Husky catchers. Framing+ was a barometer used to justify technique adjustments by comparing results from the Spring to updated data from Fall scrimmages. Framing+ as the holistic metric to track progress combined with the quick reference to video in a single interface provided an intuitive player development solution for the program’s catchers.

In the thread below, Guinn expands on some of the methodology used and improvements that were realized from leveraging the amalgamation of data sources within the 643 interface.


For programs without access to ball-tracking data, the Synergy tile in the 643 interface provides the ability to leverage manually tagged pitch locations. Below you can see an identical layout to SYNC that exclusively uses Synergy pitch data. This includes the same scales and run values to shade the Strike Rate column and calculate Framing+.


Catcher Framing Tab within the 643 Synergy Tile


The caveat here is that this data is tagged by human taggers, not by radar, and is thus prone to human error. The camera angle that’s visible to taggers along with the umpire’s call are two factors that can play a role in the tagged location. But nonetheless, Synergy’s taggers are tremendously diligent in providing accurately tagged pitch data and have more coverage in collegiate baseball and softball than any ball-tracking provider. As a result, we have an extremally useful tool that all Synergy + 643 clients can use to help their catcher become better receivers.

The 643 development team plans to continue to iterate on the Catcher Framing tab along with other aspects of the 643 SYNC & Synergy tiles to provide coaches and players a comprehensive solution for scouting and player development applications.