A big day for catchers yesterday as Jose Molina of the Blue Jays threw out four Ray base stealers, including Carl Crawford…twice. Nice job Jose. He’s the first AL catcher to accomplish this feat since Terry Steinbach did it in 1992. Charles Johnson was the last to throw out four guys and that was eight years ago, in 2002.
I took a look at the video and here’s my take. By the way, click here if you’d like to see it for yourself. The first thing that popped out to me was, contrary to my Art of Catching style, Jose likes to swing his momentum way over to his left. He makes his throws from the right handed batters box. This isn’t particularly efficient in my opinion. I like to teach simplicity. And for me, the shortest path between to points is a straight line. So when a catcher comes up to throw, I prefer to see their momentum headed through the pitcher towards second base.
OK, that being said, we all know there’s a lot of different ways to get it done. And Jose proved this true because get it done he did. Here’s the things I really liked about his pegs. First, the accuracy. Aspiring catchers, notice that every single one of his throws was on the first base side of second base and about thigh high for the middle infielder to handle.
For me, in order to throw out base stealers consistently, here are the priorities in order of importance. Accuracy, timing/quickness, then velocity. Velocity is a distant third. The first two are actually interchangeable in my opinion. And make no mistake about it, Molina’s timing and quickness were dead on. His pop times were in the 1.8’s, plus dead accurate, and powerful.
The last thing I’d like to point out about his mechanics is his exchange. Notice that he correctly lets the pitch travel (doesn’t jab out) and that the glove to bare hand exchange happens in the middle of his body. In other words, the glove does not pull up to the right ear. Making that quick exchange (maybe even a flip?) in the middle of the body allows his throwing arm to complete its arc and gives him a bit more time to find a good grip.
Good stuff. Congrats Jose, that performance makes all us catchers proud.