MLB’s 10 Best and Worst Catchers: Framing strikes outside the zone

Yan Gomes

Catchers play a vital role in the success of a team and the pitcher on the mound. One noticeable skill is a catcher’s ability to frame pitches that happen to be outside the strike zone. While such calls can be umpire dependent, catchers still play a role in getting the call when it’s needed most.

The interactive (sortable) tables below highlight the 10 best and worst catchers based on called strike rate for pitches outside the zone. We have also included a leaderboard for the same statistic when there are runners in scoring position. In this case Yan Gomes easily leads MLB with a 12.2% called strike rate for pitches outside the strike zone with runners in scoring position.

10 Best and Worst Framers
P PA ClStk%
1. Alex Avila (DET) 6,914 1,233 11.0%
2. Yan Gomes (CLE) 5,710 991 10.9%
3. J. P. Arencibia (TOR) 9,059 1,582 10.6%
4. Chris Stewart (NYY) 7,228 1,321 10.6%
5. Brayan Pena (DET) 4,533 839 10.6%
6. Jose Molina (TB) 5,951 1,051 10.6%
7. Austin Romine (NYY) 3,348 583 10.5%
8. Ryan Hanigan (CIN) 4,612 851 10.4%
9. Derek Norris (OAK) 5,212 887 10.1%
10. Hank Conger (LAA) 4,904 863 10.1%



Now with runners in scoring position…

10 Best and Worst Framers (w/ RISP)
P PA ClStk%
1. Yan Gomes (CLE) 1,449 246 12.2%
2. Carlos Corporan (HOU) 1,142 210 9.8%
3. Jose Molina (TB) 1,379 254 9.7%
4. Chris Stewart (NYY) 1,990 382 9.5%
5. Dioner Navarro (CHC) 1,073 192 9.5%
6. Alex Avila (DET) 1,592 305 9.1%
7. A. J. Ellis (LAD) 1,904 365 9.0%
8. J. P. Arencibia (TOR) 2,473 459 8.8%
9. Brayan Pena (DET) 1,059 225 8.7%
10. Brian McCann (ATL) 1,558 288 8.7%



  • JTurner11

    Interesting, but I’m not really convinced that this is the best method to determine who are the best pitch framers. It’s telling that both Tiger catchers are rated so highly on the list indicating that who the pitcher is may influence strike calls as well. Never thought Avila was a great framer compared to other catchers-especially the Molina-type guys.

    • Grantly

      Actually both Pena and Avila have been above-average in the pitch framing department their entire careers. Alex Avila has consistently been ranked as one of the top pitch framers in baseball since becoming a starting catcher in 2011. Gerald Laird is a good example in how it’s not necessarily the pitching staff- Laird is one of the worst pitch framers in baseball every year. He shared a pitching staff with Avila in 2012 and ranked terrible. Avila was well above average with the same staff.

      • JTurner11

        You make an interesting point, and I have heard that Avila is well thought of as a good pitch-framer. I just wonder if it’s fully justified. As a big Tigers fan, I’ve probably watched 150 Tiger games a year since Avila came into the league. I also watch a lot of other games through the MLB package, and using just the “eye-test” I can tell you IMO, he doesn’t frame pitches nearly as well as many other catchers I’ve watched. I can’t argue with data, but the interpretation of the data can be debated. I have nothing against Avila, in fact I’ve supported him in arguing with friends when he’s struggled the last couple of years. And he’s an absolute warrior behind the plate. But if you watch him, he isn’t the pitch-framer the data seems to indicate.