Baseball 101: Framing

Framing is the art of making a pitch that is near the strike zone appear to be a strike when it may not actually be one. A catcher, who can frame well, can be extremely helpful to a pitcher working the corners of the plate and has been particularly valuable in the major leagues.  The act of framing is a very subtle tactic, an action which occurs just as the catcher catches the ball.  Since no umpire is ever going to be fooled by a jerk of the glove to drag a pitch back to the strike zone, successful framing is a very slight action, almost indiscernible.

ESPN did this fascinating feature story, “You Got Framed,” discussing the value of a catcher who can turn a borderline pitch into a called strike.  The increase in strikeouts in the major leagues, they argue, is not merely due to the propensity of hitters to swing for the fences.  It also has to do with the increase in catchers who are successful at framing.

The act of framing isn’t foolproof, of course, and I’m sure that umpires do sometimes feel as Laz Diaz is comically depicted in this Onion article. “You catchers seem to think that I was born yesterday. Some of you even believe you can fool me by holding your glove there for an extra long time, as if to say, ‘See, I’m holding it here like this because it was a strike.’ Well, this umpire is not falling for that. Not today, not ever.”

Laz Diaz (The Onion)
Laz Diaz (The Onion)

12 thoughts on “Baseball 101: Framing

  1. Conspiracy theory here: MLB wanted pitching to dominate to assure (idiot) fans that the game was finally “clean” of steroids. That’s why most guys stand around dumbfounded after a called third strike that’s half a foot off the black and exactly why they fell the need to swing early in the count. I’ve seen it happen over and over ad infinitum. The above theory (which is completely true by the way) makes baseball stats, and arguments, irrational and arbitrary from era to era because of capitalism, changes within the game because of economics, and yes, Darwinism.

  2. Love this. My son is a catcher and an expert “framer” – 🙂 sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but it is always fun to watch! I’m going to show him this. Thanks.

  3. One of us wold pitch. The other would catch . Then we would switch and back and forth and hours would go by. The catcher would do double duty as the umpire. My favorite part was framing pitches and ultimately tricking myself since I was also the umpire, but I never heard any complaints from the pitcher.

      1. There was no hitter when it was only two of us, a battery mate situation. One would pitch, the other catch. Three outs. Then we would switch. Whoever gave up the fewest walks and/or runs would win. When there were three of us, we eliminated the catcher and opted for the pitcher, hitter and fetcher/outfielder.

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