Location is crucial to pitchers and catchers. Pitchers need to make sure they hit their spots in the strike zone. Catchers need to make sure they catch the ball before its depth throws off the umpire’s perception.
Catching the ball too deep in the catcher’s box can make a normal strike seem like a low ball. That’s why setting up closer to the hitter is important to preserving the true nature of each pitch. Former professional baseball player Dan Mooney has a helpful way to ensure you’re lined up every time. Follow these tips to find your place in the catcher’s box.
USING THE HITTER AS A WAYPOINT
Over the course of a game, catchers can see their setup inch farther back from home plate. This can lead to umpires perceiving otherwise perfect strikes as balls because of where they are caught. “What we want to be able to do is have the catcher move up in the box,” Mooney says.
To get into a better catching position, crouch down in your normal primary stance. Be mindful of where your feet are and use the hitter as a waypoint. You should be able reach out and touch the batter’s back leg when your receiving arm is extended. “We want to be somewhere, maybe an inch [back] or just enough to touch that back knee,” Mooney says. “Now, the same pitch that was a ball before now becomes a strike.”
Mooney notes that repositioning yourself adjacent to the hitter can provide big relief to your pitching staff. By reassuring the calls and stealing more strikes, you can help your pitchers stay in the game longer. Longer outings from your starter can save your bullpen, too. All of these benefits can sprout from simply readjusting your catching stance throughout the course of a game.
Pay attention to your setup and use these tips to help your pitchers get more calls in their favor. Setting up closer to the hitter can help you become a better receiver behind the dish and extend your starter’s outings.