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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Catching Technique - Baseball Prospectus

Can a catcher really earn/lose strikes for their pitcher?

According to studies and statistics, it has been proven to be true.

By getting extra strikes called, catchers are able to save their team base runners and eventually runs scored.

The article, Spinning Yarn at Baseball Prospectus, provides a very in-depth look into the statistics and relate them to catching technique. The first part of the article provides a list of catcher's and how they rank from saving runs (getting more strikes called). Later in the article there are some video clips that compare catchers and some actions they do to either earn/lose strike calls.

Couple key points from a catching technique:

  1. Squat low - this may be difficult for you taller/bigger catchers - however squatting low allows the umpire to get a clear view of the ball crossing the plate.
  2. Target/Glove at your knees - You want to start your target at the bottom of the strike zone - when the pitch crosses that low plane, you are able to 'catch' the ball by extending your glove straight out, as opposed to going down to catch.
  3. Catch the Ball Firmly - This allows you as the catcher to catch the ball and hold it in the spot that you catch it - as opposed to letting the pitch take your glove out of the strike zone.
  4. Less Movement the Better - Keep your head and body as still as possible while catching the pitch. Lots of head and body movement are a distraction to the umpire.
Here is a quote from the article from an excellent MLB receiver (catcher) - Brett Mayne:
Exaggerated glove and body movements are well known to be distracting to umpires. As Brent Mayne wrote in The Art of Catching:
Simply catch the ball firmly. When the pitch and glove meet, that’s where the action should stop. The catcher should have enough strength to stop the momentum of the ball so that strikes don’t turn into balls. Think of a gymnast “sticking” a landing. Just “stick” the ball, hold it for a brief second, then throw it back.
Check out this clip of Jonathan Lucroy (MLB - Brewers)

EARN THOSE STRIKES - Read the full article - Spinning Yarn at Baseball Prospectus.

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