Framing has become a measurable skill for catchers in recent seasons. It’s a valuable trait that has always been in baseball to some degree for its entire history, but now with sites like FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus, scouts and front offices have been able to put a quantifiable number on just how valuable framing can be.
According to FanGraphs’ framing runs metric, Ryan Doumit has the lowest all-time total since it’s introduction to baseball in 2008. Doumit was not a bad batter for the Pittsburgh Pirates. From 2007 through 2011, Doumit posted a .280/.337/.454 batting line, 111 OPS+ and 109 wRC+. He also put up a solid .343 wOBA. He was actually one of the best catchers in the league when it came to his batting prowess as in that five season span, he ranked 7th in wRC+ and 8th in wOBA among his other peers.
In 2008, Doumit was quite the offensive force. In 465 plate appearances, he hit .318/.357/.501 with 15 home runs and a strong 123 wRC+. Among catchers with at least 450 plate appearances, only Brian McCann and Joe Mauer were ahead of Doumit. But defensively, Doumit was costing the Pirates runs on every pitch that was tossed to him.
Now when you look at the DRS total and caught stealing numbers, you probably would think that Doumit wasn’t all that bad. -1 DRS and 27% caught stealing is roughly average. But in FanGraphs’ pitch framing metric, he cost the Pirates 63.3 runs. At -63.3 framing runs, no catcher has come within even halving that number.
The second lowest of all time is Jarrod Saltalamacchia at -31.6 runs, being worth an overall double the amount of runs of what Doumit was worth. While watching old video of Doumit in 2008, it was clear why he was costing the Pirates so many runs. Sometimes on low pitches, he wouldn’t even make an attempt at framing it, even if it was just slightly out of the zone.