"Get the Sure Out"
June's Tip of the Month practically wrote itself during a game yesterday between my L.A. Angels and the Detroit Tigers.
In the 8th inning of a very close game, the Angels got two runners into scoring position when Gregorio Petit lined a grounder to Tigers' 3B Andrew Romine. The third baseman came home with the throw after Rafael Ortega took off for the plate, but short-hopped it to Tigers' catcher James McCann.
McCann's first mistake was not setting himself up in a way that would give him the best ability to make an adjustment on a bad throw. By setting his left foot on the plate, he was locked into position with very limited mobility. The bad throw unfortunately caused him to pull his left foot off the plate, leading to Ortega scoring. McCann's next mistake was attempting to make up for his first miscue by attempting a very low-percentage throw/play. The chances he would have been able to have made this throw in time was already in question, let alone the fact that he was throwing from a position that will always lead to a lower-velocity, and very often less-accurate, throw.
The best thing McCann could have done here is set himself up with his right foot on the top righthand corner of the plate, like a first baseman. This would allow him the ability to move his body toward the ball, regardless of where it was thrown, while still anchoring his right foot to the plate. By setting it to the top righthand corner, he would have been touching the part of the plate furthest from the runner's slide, and given him the ability to get off of the plate the moment the ball hit his glove (See example below)
In the case of McCann, his number one goal should have been to make sure he got the sure out at home. Even though the throw from Romine was not ideal, it was most definitely a play McCann should have made. The worst thing we can do as catchers is to start out-thinking ourselves during a play. It's important to approach the game in a very intelligent way. However, we can't get ahead of ourselves in the heat of the moment. And we cbnertainly cannot attempt to make up for a mistake by attempting to make a play that we have no real chance of being successful with.
Catchers, get the sure out...and then look for another. That's the order we need to approach the game with. There's nothing wrong with trying to make the highlight-real play, but it can't come at a cost of digging your team into a bigger hole.
Thanks for reading this month's Tip of the Month!