Throwing Out Runners

Throwing to the bases, particularly second, is another key skill for the catcher. If you’d like some inspiration check out the highlights of Yadier Molina.

With a runner on base it is recommended that the catcher stagger his feet a few inches while keeping his chest square to the pitcher. While it is good practice for the infielders to call “runner” if a base-runner is going, catchers should understand that they are solely responsible for knowing if a runner is attempting to steal. With a runner on first, the catcher's eyes should glance at the runner as the pitcher's front foot moves, then back to the pitcher as he delivers the pitch. After the pitch, the catcher should again glance at the runner to prevent a delayed steal.

When a runner attempts to steal 2nd, that catcher should move slightly toward the ball but let the ball travel. Do not reach for the ball. As the catcher catches the ball his feet jump-pivot in line to his target. His back foot moves forward slightly to where his chin was over the ground in his ready stance. The throwing position is similar to a pitcher's power position. Shoulders are over hips, elbows are equal and opposite. The ball transfer is forward of the catcher's mid-line. Leave the mitt where it is when the ball is caught and turn the mitt palm to backstop so that the right hand can pick the ball. The transfer should occur at chest level, not the belt. See the movie “Catching-Transfer” for this example.

When a runner attempts to steal 3rd the biggest challenge is avoiding a right-handed hitter who is likely to be in our way. On most pitches the catcher will execute a step with his right foot that crosses behind the left foot to create an open lane behind the batter. Occasionally the pitch is outside and the easiest route is to throw in front of the batter. The catcher should drill both scenarios and be comfortable going in front or behind the batter. Never try and throw over the batter. See movie “Catching-Throw to Third” for this example.

Tip: If you notice a runner going before the pitcher commits to the plate, stand up and yell, “step off”. But be prepared to resume your catching stance if the pitcher goes into his delivery.

The key to making a good throw to 1B is to have your feet and shoulders line up to the target. Some catchers prefer to drive the right knee down and throw off their knees. Others prefer to stay on their feet. We leave the choice to what works best for the individual catcher. As a rule we do not attempt to pick off a runner at 1B if there are other runners on base.

Drills

  • When working on throws, emphasize form first, then speed.
  • Jump-pivots on line - see movie of the same name
  • Transfers: Play catch at short range and work on quickly picking the ball from the glove and getting into a throwing position with just the upper body.
  • Jump-pivots w/ ball: Make some throw to 2B starting with the ball in glove.
  • Throws to base: Tell the pitcher to throw to different parts of the zone.

Tip: Pop times are an important metric. Make them more meaningful by measuring the time from mitt to tag rather than mitt to glove.