Lefty Catchers II: The People Speak

When I wrote my piece on lefty catchers a couple of weeks ago, I secretly felt that I was giving in to a little self-indulgence. I mean, who, besides myself, cares about something so esoteric as left-handed catchers? The article contained some historical material from 19th century baseball, again not exactly stuff to attract hordes of readers in the year 2006. It was also rather short on numerical analysis, so my hard core sabermetric readers (there must be two or three, no?) wouldn’t have a lot to chew on.

But, I figured what the hell, I’m free to send in whatever article I please, right? (Aaron, please let me know if I’m misguided on this.) If I want to spend a few hours cranking out 2,000 words on something that nobody will read, well that’s my prerogative. But a funny thing happened when the article ran: lots of people read it and many of them e-mailed me about it. I was really surprised and delighted by the quantity and the quality of the feedback. Some folks wanted to comment about the various “reasons” for the non-existence of left-handed
catchers. Several had some ideas of their own. Many people sent in personal stories of their experiences with left-handed catchers at the lower levels of baseball. I loved getting these e-mails and I thought that they deserved recognition, hence this article. So, let’s get to them.

On Throwing Runners out at second base

Craig Burley, my colleague here at THT, pointed out that I should remove pickoffs from my sample when evaluating catcher throws to second base. You may know that if a runner is picked off first base, but takes off for second and is thrown out there, that is officially scored as a “caught stealing” and not a “pickoff”. The play is officially designated a “pickoff” if the runner is tagged out diving back to first base.

In any case, the data I presented previously did not have these types of caught-stealing plays removed, which was an oversight on my part, since the catcher is not involved in these plays. Nice catch, Craig.

When you do remove those plays (I won’t subject you to another table of numbers), the conclusion remains the same: there is no evidence that throwing out a runner at second base is harder when there is a left-handed batter at the plate. From which we may infer that lefty catchers would not be at a disadvantage when throwing runners out at second base.

Throwing Out Runners at third base

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