Catcher Meme #20
You Need To Have The Ball In Your Hand To Throw
I've got a question for you....What is worse than having a guy steal on you? I'll tell you what. A guy stealing on you AND losing the strike call because you attempted to cheat on your throw.
Last Friday Cubs' catcher Dioner Navarro made this mistake on a stolen base attempt by the Pirates' Starling Marte. Marte got a huge jump and there wasn't any chance that Navarro was going to be able to throw him out, but Navarro made matters worse when he came out of his crouch early, pulling his body to his right, and giving up any chance of the pitch being called a strike.
Now, I'm going to ignore the fact that his method of cheating early not only wouldn't have saved him time, but would have also severely affected the accuracy of his throw because of the direction his body was traveling before the ball even hit his glove. That's for another discussion. I'd like to focus on the fact that our number one job as a catcher is to catcher the ball and present it to the umpire as a strike if the pitcher threw one.
Late in a tied playoff game with two outs in the inning and a hot hitter at the plate? Different story. In that situation is there some advantage to focusing on the runner instead of the strike? Sure. I don't want to pretend there isn't a time and place to go after the runner at all costs. There is. But that should never be the default approach to our job behind the plate.
Navarro had no shot at the runner, but had every opportunity to ensure that the batter started 0-1. Instead his approach failed to net him even a late throw to 2B and it likely also cost him a strike.
Catcher's, I'm not saying to hold the pitch there and lose any chance at the runner. But cheating in your throw to 2B during a game will often cost you strikes and will very rarely gain an advantage over the runner. There is a reason our position is called "Catcher". Pay the most attention to the one thing you do more than any other. Catch the ball. Then throw. If there isn't a play at 2B, at least you still have the strike. The Cubs' Navarro gave up both.
Here's a GIF of the botched pitch - http://viewrz.com/video/dn-strike-fail