Next to the pitcher, the second most significant player on the field is - you guessed it - the catcher. This is not to say that every defensive player is not important. However, it is simple - without a guy behind the plate that can catch, the game is very difficult to play and have success as a team.
In an earlier blog pertaining to catching, I spoke of the lack of ability of catchers to simply catch the baseball and that there was a great de-emphasis on this discipline; or that the receiving of a pitched ball was an area that has fallen secondary to that of trying to throw runners out stealing.
At younger levels, due to the importance of defense or just playing catch, countless bright coaches who recognize the importance of a good catcher will shift their better players and better athletes to the catcher position to strengthen their baseball team defense. Let’s really face it…defense begins with the ability of the pitcher throwing strikes and the ability of the catcher to catch the ball. A first class catcher will contribute much more to the success of any team than a left fielder or second baseman will. Again, not to downplay the importance of the non-catching positions, but creating a catcher out of a better player will make any team profit in the win column much more. In fact, at younger levels, honestly, teams that have one or two dominating pitchers and a catcher will have plenty of success.
Not surprisingly, this type of thought goes beyond the any levels of baseball thinking. In fact, one can shift this paradigm to softball (this story is really more about a pitcher, but without the second most important defensive player on the field, the pitcher may not have been who he turned out to be):
The real bottom line to the significance of a good catcher is this: Both he and the pitcher are the center of attention and the center of all the defensive action on the team and during a game. The success of each team is very much determined by the performances of each of these players. If you have not thought about this as a new paradigm…start...now. Being weak behind the plate undoubtedly will mean a weak defensive team - and that is NOT a recipe for team success.
Rick Johnston, Head Coach - The Baseball Zone
Image courtesy of sportsnet.ca