Tim Kurkjian’s Catching Article

January 6, 2011

Baseball journalist and ESPN analyst, Tim Kurkjian just came out with an excellent article about the importance of the intangible aspects of catching and the impact they have on a team. Game calling, managing personalities, controlling the pace of game – all the subtle things make a catcher so important.

He called me the other day for some information and here’s a couple small excerpts of what I had to say from Tim’s article…

“You’re preaching to the choir, you’re talking to a guy who made his house payments [by calling and running a game],” said Brent Mayne, who caught in the major leagues from 1990-2004. “What’s the most important part of the game? Pitching. If it wasn’t, why would teams throw this kind of money around lately? [That said] you have to have a good catcher. It’s like having a phenomenal race horse, but no jockey. Will the horse win the race without one? Probably not. Someone has to know when to use the crop and when not to.”

“Some pitchers need to be patted on the back, some need to be kicked in the ass, and a catcher has to have a feel for that,” Mayne said. “That’s extremely important, and it’s rare today. You have to be able to sense that. You have to be an amateur psychologist in some ways. There’s so much more to pitching than following a scouting report to a tee. That’s not how it works. That’s not the ultimate decision. The ultimate decision is the feeling in your gut. Carlos Ruiz has that, and Cliff Lee knows he has that. Anyone can sit in the stands and look at a scouting report, or an iPod, and know what to throw next. But sitting in the stands, you can’t see the subtle shift that the hitter makes after a pitch. Only the catcher can see that. And that’s where the feel for the pitcher comes in. The best pitch any pitcher can throw is the one he can throw with conviction, whether it’s the right pitch or the wrong pitch. The catcher’s job is to give him that conviction.”

If you’re interested, click here to read the rest of the article…enjoy.

3 Responses to “Tim Kurkjian’s Catching Article”

  1. Craig Berg says:

    What you say, Brent, makes absolute sense to even a layman like me. But, as you must be aware, Baseball Prospectus’ writer Keith Woolner (and others) concluded that even if catchers do have an effect on pitchers’ abilities to prevent runs, it is undetectable (through statistical analysis and stats like CERA) and thus the stats have no practical usage. What do you say to that? My guess is “The stats just aren’t sophisticated enough to show what is really happening”.

  2. Royce the Cherokee says:

    I’m an old catcher who wore a cup and a jock to work everyday for 12 years. To me the word stat is a four letter word. Just like what a catcher does for a pitching staff or a utility guy or bench player does for the clubhouse the word to be used is’nt unmeasureable ( undetectable ) but immeasureable. I hate if that messes with all the rotisierre or fantasy league formulas, but that”s why some get paid to play and others pay to play fantasy. The reason alien shaped headed people like Keith Woolner can’t detect it is because it can’t be detected through a computer screen: you have to actually be there in a uniform on the roster from spring training to the last pitch of the season to detect it.

  3. Lewis says:

    Right on Royce!

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