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Thread: Left-handed catchers are a rarity, but UK Wildcats will have TWO this season

  1. #1
    Just The Big Picture macro's Avatar
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    Left-handed catchers are a rarity, but UK Wildcats will have TWO this season

    I just read that the University of Kentucky baseball team will have two left-handed catchers on its roster this season: Tyler Howe and Ross Hubbard. This got me to thinking about how rare left-handed catchers really are. I have never witnessed one in action.

    The last one in MLB was Benny Distefano, who caught three games for the Pirates in 1989. There have only been 33 left-handed throwing players who caught in at least 1 defensive inning. If you exclude the ten men who only caught in a single game, then you're talking about just 23 players. If you count only those guys who caught a 100 or more games in a career, you're down to exactly five left-handed throwing catchers. However, if you're only counting career catchers (minimum of 1,000 games caught), then you have exactly one and that is Jack Clements. (source)

    So, why aren't there more left-handed catchers?

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  3. #2
    For a Level Playing Field RedFanAlways1966's Avatar
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    Re: Left-handed catchers are a rarity, but UK Wildcats will have TWO this season

    Quote Originally Posted by macro View Post
    So, why aren't there more left-handed catchers?
    Interesting, macro. I am not sure, but my guess would be that it is an age-old-thing. Probably used to be a lot more RH hitters in the old days and a lot more steals. The thought process is that it is easier for a RH to throw from the catcher's box with a RH hitter at the plate for a runner stealing 2nd base (the base that gets the most attempted steals). You wouldn't think that it would matter that much today... esp. with so many LH hitters these days.
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  4. #3
    One Man Army
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    Re: Left-handed catchers are a rarity, but UK Wildcats will have TWO this season

    All shortstops and second basemen basically have to field right handed due to the fact that they always have to throw to 1B. A left handed fielder at SS or 2B would have a much harder time going to 1B than a right handed fielder due to the need to take time getting set up. So, for almost every SS and 2B, their glove is on their left hand.

    When the runner attempts to steal second, the throw from a right handed catcher is going to typically go to the man covering 2B's left side, making it easier for the guy to catch the ball and apply the tag. With a left-handed catcher, it's more likely to end up on right side of the man covering second, making it significantly harder to catch and apply the tag.

    Also, it's significantly harder for a left-handed catcher to make a snap throw to 3B.

  5. #4
    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Left-handed catchers are a rarity, but UK Wildcats will have TWO this season

    One more thing to remember is that if you have a left hander with a great arm, as catchers are supposed to have, more than likely you are going to make him a pitcher, not a catcher.
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  6. #5
    Titanic Struggles Caveat Emperor's Avatar
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    Re: Left-handed catchers are a rarity, but UK Wildcats will have TWO this season

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R View Post
    One more thing to remember is that if you have a left hander with a great arm, as catchers are supposed to have, more than likely you are going to make him a pitcher, not a catcher.
    Yup. And catching is one of the few positions that you rarely (read: almost never) see kids play on their "non-pitching days" in high school and college -- due mostly to the strain it puts on the legs.

    So, if you have a great lefty catcher and move him to pitcher, it becomes a permenant move to 2 new positions. If the kid rakes and gets drafted as a hitter, it'll almost always be at his new position as an OF or an IF that he has played in school.
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    Re: Left-handed catchers are a rarity, but UK Wildcats will have TWO this season

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R View Post
    One more thing to remember is that if you have a left hander with a great arm, as catchers are supposed to have, more than likely you are going to make him a pitcher, not a catcher.
    Bill James came to the same conclusion. I think that's right. I'd also add that no manager wants to do anything that might throw his pitching staff off.
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