LEFT HANDED CATCHERS – WHY DON’T WE SEE THEM VERY OFTEN?

Question from Barry in British Columbia: Has there ever been left-handed catchers, third basemen, shortstops or second basemen in the major leagues? If not, then why not?

Answer: Currently, zero Major League Baseball catchers throw left-handed (see below for a list of left-handed catchers that have major league experience. I haven’t done much research on left-handed third basemen, shortstops or second basemen, but they ALL have a drawback when it comes to playing solid defense. Read below:

LEFT HANDED CATCHER DRAWBACKS

The reason there have been so few left-handed catchers is that lefty catchers have a harder time throwing out base runners since most batters are right handed. Since the right-handed batter’s box is on the same side as the catcher’s left arm, the right-handed batter could impede the catcher throwing the ball to 2nd base during a stolen base attempt.

During a stolen 3rd base attempt, the left-handed catcher’s footwork becomes a problem also. A right-handed catcher, mainly just steps and throws to third base, while a left-handed catcher needs to entirely turn his body to step and throw to the third baseman. That split second it takes to make that turn could cost his team a stolen base and, possibly, a run. That run could be the difference in the game.

An additional drawback for lefty catchers is their glove position on a tag play at home. A righty catcher has his glove on the third base side of home plate and can quickly catch a ball and swipe a tag while a lefty catcher will have a harder time getting a ball from the field of play and tagging across his body at a runner sliding in foul territory.

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LEFT HANDED THIRD BASEMAN AND MIDDLE INFIELDER DRAWBACKS

Just as I pointed out above for a catcher, it is much easier and quicker for a right-handed thrower to play 3rd base, shortstop or 2nd base. This is because, once they field the baseball, their feet are already in position to make the throw. A left-handed thrower would have to take the time to pivot and turn their entire body and throw to either 2nd or 1st base.

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LEFT HANDED CATCHER, THIRD BASEMAN, SHORTSTOP & SECOND BASEMAN SUMMARY

Baseball is a game of inches and split seconds. A player can be thrown out at any base by 1/100th of a second. That is why baseball coaches look for a certain type of player to play each position. Typically, only right handed players will play catcher, third base, shortstop and second base.

The opposite argument can be made for first basemen because a left-handed player can make a quicker and easier throw to second base compared to a right handed player. The right-handed player has to make that pivot which slows him down.

LEFTY CATCHERS THAT HAVE PLAYED IN THE BIGS

Here is a list of left-handed catchers in Major League Baseball history and the number of games caught.

  • Clements, Jack, 1,073 games
  • Trott, Sam, 272 games
  • Tate, Pop, 202 games
  • Sutcliffe, Sy, 186 games
  • Harbridge, Bill, 128 games
  • Hines, Mike, 128 games
  • Humphries, John, 75 games
  • Tenney, Fred, 71 games
  • Twineham, Art, 52 games
  • Baker, Phil, 50 games
  • Donahue, Jiggs, 45 games
  • Oldfield, Dave, 35 games
  • Householder, Charlie, 34 games
  • Malone, Fergy, 21 games
  • McMahon, Jack, 16 games
  • Krehmeyer, Charlie, 12 games
  • Wall, Joe, 7 games
  • Foster, Elmer, 5 games
  • DiStefano, Benny, 3 games
  • Hillebrand, Homer, 3 games
  • Egan, Jim, 2 games
  • Long, Dale, 2 games
  • Squires, Mike, 2 games
  • Cassidy, John, 1 game
  • Eden, Charlie, 1 game
  • Marr, Lefty, 1 game
  • Mullen, John, 1 game
  • Powell, Martin, 1 game
  • Redmon, Billy, 1 game
  • Short, Chris, 1 game

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LEFT HANDED CATCHERS - WHY DON'T WE SEE THEM VERY OFTEN?LEFT HANDED CATCHERS - WHY DON'T WE SEE THEM VERY OFTEN?

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