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Why is it seemingly forbidden for a lefty to play catcher?

Lefties would have an advantage fielding bunts and throwing to first, as they would already be oriented towards first when getting the ball.

When throwing to second, it seems meaningless which hand to throw from.

Throwing to third would require you to turn around, but I believe that throwing to first, either on a dropped third, bunt, or pickoff attempt is more common than throwing to third.

Is there something I'm missing?

  • Having/catching the ball in the left hand seems like it would be an advantage in plays at the plate, though I don't know how much it factors in. – Pawr Jun 5 '17 at 20:39
  • This similar question may provide insight. – user527 Jun 6 '17 at 19:52
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    There were definitely historical logistical reasons for this and the main reason is that there were so many more RH hitters. This has changed over time but there still aren't many left handed catchers... Why? In youth sports you put your best arms at pitcher and catcher. Every youth sport coach wants one good LH pitcher, most teams have none. So any LH players with decent arms are immediately sent to pitch. And if you don't have a good arm and LH you go to first base. – Coach-D Jul 31 '18 at 18:53
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Well, there are a few downsides for left handed catchers, such as throwing out a base stealer at 3B, which would probably happen more often with a left handed catcher, but probably the biggest reason is pointed out in this quote I found here:

Distefano offered two explanations. Bunts toward third base, he said, cause problems for left-handed catchers. In scampering to grab the ball, transferring it to their left hand and throwing to either first or second base, their bodies get closed and clumsy. Throws for right-handers are far more open and natural. But the primary problem Distefano encountered was with plays at home. Because his glove was on his right hand, every accurate throw to the runner's side of the plate would have to be reached for backhanded, impeding a quick tag. And on outfielder throws up the first-base line, reaching out with his right hand would leave his throwing shoulder wide open to the runner.

"If there's going to be a bang-bang play, the left-handed catcher's going to get hurt,” he said.

  • I understand the second part, but I don't understand the first. If a bunt is put down the third base line, a left handed catcher upon picking up the ball would be in the correct orientation, right foot(lead throwing foot) closer to first base. A charging right handed third baseman would also have his lead throwing foot (left foot) closer to first base. Both players would be correctly positioned to throw to first. – Frank Anderson Jun 5 '17 at 21:15
  • @FrankAnderson while true, it'd also cause him to have to throw the ball to 1B across his body in a quick situation. Now if the catcher got to the ball quickly he'd have time to position his body, but if he picks the ball up with his glove, he's transferring the ball to his left hand and then having to throw across his body to get it back to 1B. – New-To-IT Jun 5 '17 at 21:39
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    But wouldn't a RH third baseman also have to do the same thing? Also, compare to a right handed catcher, who would have to pivot 180 degrees on his right foot before throwing. – Frank Anderson Jun 5 '17 at 21:56
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The most frequent throw a catcher makes (besides throwing the ball back to the pitcher) is to throw out a runner on first base trying to steal second base. Because it is the most frequent throw, and because it keeps the runner from advancing to a scoring position (runner can score from 2nd base on a single), it is also the most consequential throw a catcher makes. A large majority of baseball players are right handed and bat right handed. That means, the majority of time, there is a right handed batter in the batters box. A right handed batter is in the way of the throw to second base from a left handed catcher. As second based is the farthest base to the catcher every split second counts. Any impedance to the throw and avoidance of the batter can make the difference between an out or a person in scoring position.

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The tag plays at the plate would become more difficult and the LH catchers can not put swipe tags down. They have to turn their body to tag instead of having the ball travel to the tag.

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I think it can be argued for or against in any situation. I don’t believe that a bunt play is why there hasn’t been a leftie catcher in the last 20+ years. It would probably stem from the lack of young left handers and their youth coaches trying to utilize them in pitching roles or 1st base. Plus, not a lot of kids like playing catcher and if you’re a good youth left handed player, coaches won’t risk you getting beat up behind the plate.

  • This answer would be improved, and higher quality, if it had citations to back up the assertions being made. – Logan Baxter Feb 6 '18 at 21:45

protected by Nij Apr 12 at 3:42

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