Why do professional baseball catchers learn from amateurs? Prout talks about “Modern Framing Theory.”
Nowadays, “pro-touts” (professional amateurs) are beginning to make their presence felt in the world of professional baseball. What are the activities of these “proouts”? Why do professionals ask them to teach amateurs? Part 1: Why do professional baseball players learn from amateurs? Who are these ‘pro utopians’ who are suddenly attracting a lot of attention?
The definition of framing is “the art of catching pitches to increase the probability that they will be judged as strikes.
Framing” is currently the focus of attention in evaluating catchers. At first glance, framing may appear to be an act of “cheating the ball into a strike,” and there are many negative opinions that it is an attempt to deceive the umpire.
We asked two “professionals”, rani (@n_cing10) and Tairiku Midorikawa (@mid9181), who teach this technique, which is controversial among players and fans alike, and have opened an online salon specializing in catchers, “The Catcher’s Institute”. mid9181), who have opened an online salon specializing in catching, “The Catcher’s Institute,” to talk about the effectiveness and penetration of framing in the modern baseball world, as well as what they feel when coaching professionals.
–Midorikawa: Nowadays, framing is becoming more and more important in the Japanese baseball world, but there is also criticism that it is so-called “mitt shifting.
Midorikawa: I think that mitt shifting and framing are the same. It is difficult to distinguish between “this is framing” and “this is mitt shifting,” because it depends on the viewer’s subjective opinion. The objective of both is to get strikes, so it is difficult to say which is better.
rani To begin with, “framing” is an English word and “mitt shurashi” is a Japanese word, so there is no clear distinction between the two, and frankly speaking, I think the discussion itself is sterile. The only reason to adopt framing is to “get more strikes and lose more balls,” and that’s all.
Midorikawa: I feel that the word “framing” has taken on a life of its own and is becoming more and more difficult to understand.
rani The definition of “framing” is clearly stated on the official website of MLB The definition of framing is clearly written on the MLB official website. Framing is a technique for catching pitches to increase the probability that the umpire will call a strike. It is nothing more and nothing less than this. It gets complicated when people start saying things like, “What I think framing is, in the first place. What is “framing as I see it”?
Midorikawa: It’s like the definition of a triangle, where you are saying that a triangle is a triangle, but you are arguing about “what I think of as a triangle in the first place”….
rani That’s really the level (laughs). Of course, it is this definition of framing that has been proven to be important by the data, but it does not mean that “what I think of framing” has been shown to be important.
Framing and blocking are two sides of the same coin, and both must be mastered.
–What made active players realize the importance of framing?
Midorikawa: MLB I think it was because I realized that everyone was working on it in MLB, and that it affected their games, was reflected in their performance, and was linked to their annual salary. I think that many players have come to understand how to think about framing and how to understand it, and when they try it, they find that it makes sense and that they feel they should do it.
–I think that many MLB players are now doing it.
rani. International games are often mentioned, for example, the first WBC was held in 2006, the year of the first WBC. MLB season, Russell Martin, who later became famous as a master of framing, had already scored about 25 points in the 2006 MLB season, when the first WBC was held. It may simply have been a matter of technique. It is true, though, that methodologies have been changing, especially recently.
Midorikawa: The way the mitts move is completely different when you look at them from the front and from the back. When I teach professional players, I have them look at it from behind, and they see it completely differently, and as they do so, they realize that they should do this. Catching from the back was a new experience for the players.
–Does framing take precedence over blocking in the modern age?
RANI. Framing and blocking are a set, so they must be considered together. If you try to increase only the framing without thinking, the blocking will fall. For example, the basic framing technique is to hold the camera low, but this makes it difficult to move from side to side. How to balance the two is the biggest theme for the modern catcher. In the MLB, there are many players who now rank high in both framing and blocking, and both must be mastered. That is the most difficult part.
Midorikawa: In Japan, players who are good at blocking tend to raise their upper body high, float once before the ball comes to them, and then drop their body down. This is the exact opposite of framing, so the better you are at it, the more your body moves from top to bottom, so you end up catching a low ball over your head like a “grasshopper. In particular, Takuya Kai (Softbank), whom I coached during his voluntary training, had the movements of a player who is good at blocking.
–Does a player who is not good at blocking need to change his blocking?
Midorikawa: Kai’s blocking is one of the best in Japan, and it is also an important play that can easily lead to a loss of a run, so I worked on it hoping that he would be more active as a catcher with overwhelming defensive ability than before by improving his framing technique while keeping his blocking accuracy.
Framing will be unnecessary once robotic referees are introduced Technology
-Some say that framing will become unnecessary once robot referees are introduced.
Midorikawa: Completely robot technology that will be completely unnecessary when it comes to robot referees. There is no doubt about that. It is a technology that is necessary for referees.
rani It is necessary if the rules allow for challenges (requests) to the judgment of several balls, but it is unnecessary if the system is completely automated, and that will happen in the future.
Midorikawa: However, it is a very important technology at this point, and I think it is nonsense not to learn it for the sake of robot umpiring in the future. Amateurs have one shot at it, and professional players also have to compete every year. I think most of us live in a life where if we don’t get results this year, we won’t have them next year, so it’s important to work on how to get results now.
-What is the evaluation from the pitchers?
Midorikawa: Normally, I am happy when a pitch I consider a ball becomes a strike, and many pitchers find it easy to throw with a low stance. It was reported that Tomoyuki Sugano, a pitcher of the Giants, also praised the framing of Yamase (Shinnosuke) (who participated in Kai’s joint voluntary training), and he himself contacted me to say so. Of course, there are some pitchers who feel uncomfortable with his unprecedented low stance and stance with his opposite foot on the ground, but as far as I’m concerned, most pitchers would like to see more strikes regardless of their stance.
rani. From the pitcher’s point of view, it is obvious that it is a problem when a strike becomes a ball, and I think it is normal for pitchers to want more emphasis to be placed on framing.
Midorikawa: Kota Chiga (Mets) and Hiita Ishikawa (Softbank) are also pleased with the change in Kai’s catching style, and I have no doubt that pitchers will get on board depending on how they catch the ball. Gradually, good things are being adopted in Japan as well, regardless of whether it is pro or amateur. As for framing, I feel that this season will be the year to start that trend. Fans have been very supportive of Kai’s efforts, and I hope that the framing figures will be higher than ever in this context.
–The two of you are opening an online salon specializing in catchers, “Catcher Institute” (starting March 9, 2023), what is your goal?
Midorikawa: Pitchers and hitters are adopting new techniques and theories from overseas and elsewhere, but I feel that catchers are still stuck in the old ways. In Japan, when a catcher tries to take a new approach, he or she is drawn back to old players as examples.
I would like to gradually change the old structure of catchers, both professional and amateur, and if possible, I would like to have instructors join the salon. I would like the leaders to drop the information they see there to the children and players.
rani. I agree.
In today’s baseball world, where theories and techniques are advancing day by day and every play is being databased, catcher’s skills, which have not been the focus of attention until now, are now in the spotlight. It seems that what the two proouts are aiming for is not only to improve the skills of professional baseball players, but also to present to the children who will be responsible for the future of baseball through the latest technology and theory.
Interview and text： Diceke Takahashi