Tag Archives: Catching

How Russell Martin Calls Games

This quick feature on Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin gave us some insight into how he calls games. J.A. Happ had struggled in an outing against the Angels and had to face them again less than a month later. Happ was much better the second time around, so many assumed adjustments were made. Martin said he couldn’t remember much about that first Happ outing against the Angels and continued:

“That’s pretty much how baseball is,” Martin shrugged, when asked about his head-scratching Happ-nesia.

“It’s really not that complicated. You go out there and he’s going to pitch to his strengths and do what he’s comfortable with and what works for him, and that’s it. You know a well-located pitch is going to be tough for anybody to hit, whether you’re an MVP or a September call-up.”

“Just because you have a bad start against somebody the last time has no bearing on the result of what the next game’s going to be,” Martin said. “Different ballpark, different conditions. One day is one day.

This is very much a process-over-results approach to calling games as a catcher. Martin continued in explaining his strategy:

“Obviously there are times where you look at a sample and then you say, ‘Okay this guy is 15-for-20 off this guy with five home runs, you might want to be careful.’ But you can’t have a one-game impact. If he gets hit by one team you can’t be like, ‘We’re going to do things completely different here.’ (Happ’s) strength is his fastball and you kind of go off that.”

Martin argued that, yes, it’s important to know a hitter’s weaknesses but it’s more important to know his pitcher’s strengths. There is so much video available now, with opposing hitters studying the next starter, looking for tendencies in counts and situations, that a starter like Marco Estrada might actually benefit from having Dioner Navarro and Martin catching him at different times.

Martin also discussed how no two catchers are the same and what made former Blue Jay starter Mark Buehrle successful.


Jonathan Lucroy’s Influence on the Rangers

Jonathan Lucroy’s influence on the Texas Rangers has gone beyond his offensive production as a catcher. The Rangers, who acquired Lucroy at the Deadline via trade, were desperately seeking pitching to bolster their staff. When no favorable options appeared, they turned to Lucroy, who they figured would help their current pitchers with his superb ability to call games. That has been the case, as highlighted by this article from Shannon Drayer. The importance of having a quality catcher behind the plate can never be overstated. And it often involves more than what you see in the individual’s box score.

“This is a guy who has a great reputation as a pitch framer, a great reputation for temperament behind the plate, for having control of the game, and just in watching a month of Jonathan Lucroy doing prep for games, I’ve been blown away,” Grant said. “How much he puts into it, how hard he studies, this is a guy who doesn’t waste effort.

He spends the right amount of time doing the things he needs to do to get this team very ready and he’s been an offensive plus at the plate.”

Royals’ Catcher-specific Training

I’ve always been amazed by how great of a defensive catcher Salvador Perez is considering he’s listed at 6-3, 240 pounds. The catcher position obviously requires a certain level of flexibility, which one would think could be difficult for man of Perez’s size. This article from Sports Illustrated takes an inside look on how the Royals train their catchers and offers actual training drills from their award-winning strength and conditioning coach, Ryan Stoneberg.

“Each of these players are individuals and that’s how I treat them,” says Stoneberg, who enters his 15th season with the 2015 World Series champion Royals. “They are different ages, play different volumes of innings, have different training backgrounds [and] injury histories….It’s important to recommend what they need moving forward, while recognizing their individual backgrounds. It would be very easy to have all of these players do the same things, but it would not be as beneficial to the player or the team.”