MLB Playoffs: The Catchers that are most important to their teams, and why
Why are catchers so important to a baseball team?
For anyone that really knows and loves the sport of baseball you should know that the most important player at any point on the field is the catcher. He is the one that controls the entire game. Sure he takes some signs from the dugout, but otherwise he literally calls the game to his knowledge of his teammates and opponents.
They don’t always get the respect and acknowledgement that they deserve.
If a player is not in great physical shape, if he does not take care of his body, he is not going to do well at the catcher position. To be able to call pitches and know not only their pitchers, but the opposing players the way they do explains a great art for the sport. Any person who thinks baseball is boring, should learn the roles of a catcher.
Aside from calling the pitches that the pitcher throws, he needs to be watching everything on the field. He has the best view of everything going on. He has to have a quick wit and needs to be ready for anything during any situation.
If there is someone taking a daring leadoff at first, you bet he has his eye on them.
If there is a pick off opportunity at any base, he needs to be sure to get the ball thrown down as soon as it crosses the plate and hits his glove. The arm strength of a catcher is completely underestimated and if you’re caught in a run down with them, forget about it.
As far as passed balls go, well we’ve all seen that one game that had the play at the plate where the ball go away from the catcher and the go-ahead run scored. What a horrible way to lose a baseball game. How about runners intentionally running into them at the plate, trying to make them lose control while they are trying to tag the runner out?
If that’s not putting your body through major wear and tear I don’t know what is.
Russell Martin Tagging Manny Machado
The postseason is even more pressure for the catchers. Because it is a shorter season, the series are shorter too. In any postseason game, a manager can use eight to nine different pitchers easily. This challenges the catcher’s knowledge of his pitcher’s matchup with different batter and it can change every inning.
And it’s not just the killer defense that needs to be all lined up. The catcher has to have the offense too. You can have all the knowledge in the world but there is no designated hitter spot open for the catcher. You have to be able to swing the bat too.
For the sake of saving everyone from scattering to try to find all these details statistics about all the catchers in the majors, let’s focus on just those left in the postseason. Those that start for the St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers.
Buster Posey-San Francisco Giants
Buster Posey was the 2010 rookie of the year, that was followed by a 2010 World Series Championship. Then after missing most of last season due to breaking his left leg in a collision at the plate on May 25th, he has come back this year to hit .336 with 24 homeruns, including his first career grand slam during this post season against the Cincinnati Reds to help advance the San Francisco Giants further in the postseason. He was the national league batting champion.
Yadier Molina-St. Louis Cardinals
Yadier Molina is a big guy. He’s not super tall, but only standing 5-foot-11 and being 225 pounds, there is a hard chance that you are going to get a ball past him, or be able to make him lose control of the ball during a play at the plate. He is a solid hitter, in the last month he has hit .280 and helps control one of the deadliest baseball teams in the majors when it comes to the postseason. Who do you think is in the driver’s seat there, you guessed it, Molina.
Alex Avila-Detroit Tigers
Alex Avila has been absolutely clutch for the Detroit Tigers. His overall average is not the best but his ability to conveniently hit clutch base hits has been key this postseason. You don’t need to hit home runs every time you are at the plate, base hits that get the ball into play are what score more runs for the team. Avila did that against the Oakland Athletics and along with the rest of his Tigers squad, they are doing it to the New York Yankees.
Russell Martin-New York Yankees
Speaking of the Yankees, Russell Martin is another one of those guys that is a beast behind the plate. When you see a team like the Yankees play a team like the Baltimore Orioles, you think, well this should be a breeze. While it wasn’t a breeze, in fact the Orioles and the Yankees were neck and neck all season. Martin did some damage against Baltimore and has already grabbed two hits from the Detroit Tigers in the Championship Series. Though his average is just above .200, don’t sleep on him, when you least expect it, he will connect.