The Washington Nationals catchers are blowing away the MLB average for ‘caught stealing’ statistics. As of this morning, MLB catchers have only thrown out 27.96% of attempted base stealers this season. The Nationals catchers have thrown out 44.18% of base stealers. Think about the effect of taking 19 opposing baserunners off the base paths and 19 extra outs.
Don’t run on Nationals catchers! If you do, proceed at your own risk!
Whatever V.P. of Player Development and former catcher Bob Boone along with Nationals minor league catching coordinator Michael Barrett and their staff are teaching these catchers in the Minor Leagues — it is working. Spencer Kieboom threw out his second runner last night in three attempts for the season and the rookie has been up to the task. His catching fundamentals on blocking pitches has been fantastic also.
There is an emphasis now on catcher ‘pop time’ which is measured at the instant a pitch hits a catcher’s glove to the moment it strikes the glove of the infielder at the base. The Major League average Pop Time on steal attempts of second base is 2.01 seconds. Those split seconds can be made or lost with arm strength which is measured as the velo on the catcher’s throw, and nothing beats accuracy where you put the ball right on the bag for the infielder to apply the tag. Upper tier velo for a catcher is in the upper 80’s mph. The Nationals Pop Time leader is Spencer Kieboom at 1.98 followed by Matt Wieters at 1.99 and Pedro Severino at 2.02. The MLB leader this season is J.T. Realmuto at 1.83.
There is also the pitcher’s release time to the plate. Many times the runner steals a base off of the pitcher. In a perfect world, the catcher and pitcher and middle infielder all complete the task in perfect concert.
Controlling the opposition’s running game has now become a strength for the Washington Nationals.