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Thread: Catcher: block plate tag or sweep tag?

  1. #1

    Catcher: block plate tag or sweep tag?

    What's the best way to teach the catcher's tag-sweep tag where the catcher is in limited danger of getting injured by the runner or something more aggressive?

  2. #2
    This except I prefer the left foot closer to the baseline and helmet remains on.... I don't blame Posey for his positioning choice on this play considering who is running and his history.




  3. #3
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    Posey is in decent position above, but on the collision that he is well known for, with the injury that wrecked his 2011 season, he was in AWFUL position.



    Three or four steps away and Posey already has his left leg folded, with the knee bent at a terrible angle. The runner is right on the baseline, basically ignoring the outside of the plate which is available to him.



    The image above is not that different that the positioning of the left foot and knee in the safe, swipe tag in the OP.




    But he's too close to the plate, inviting contact, and made a huge error with the left leg placement.






    On the injury play, Posey actually leaned FORWARD, towards the runner (without the ball) which placed his left knee and ankle in a WORSE position that he started in, resulting in disaster.



    Bottom line, if you are going to block ANY portion of the plate, your left foot should be pointed directly AT the runner (be it right down the line, or perhaps pointing slightly foul if the runner is coming from a slightly wider angle than right on the line). The knee needs to be directly over the foot, ready to bend naturally straight back to absorb the contact and virtually eliminate lower bod injury.






    Knee directly over the foot... both pointing directly at the approaching runner.







    That said, inviting collision is for the upper levels of baseball only (nothing except the very highest level youth leagues near high school age or so - and above of course). Posey does a very nice job with the sweep in the post above, but a more agile runner might get to the outside corner of the plate since Posey is so far from the line.

    When teaching, be careful with the left leg, knee, foot and their angle relative to the baseline/runner even when sweeping.
    "Herman Franks to Sal Yvars to Bobby Thomson. Ralph Branca to Bobby Thomson to Helen Rita... cue Russ Hodges."

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by StanTheMan View Post
    When teaching, be careful with the left leg, knee, foot and their angle relative to the baseline/runner even when sweeping.
    Outstanding post Stan.....one of the best I've read about catching since those of the master (see my signature below).

    Nice job.
    In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

  5. #5
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    I'm no expert by any stretch... but thank you.


    Harold Reynolds and AJ Peirzinksi (sp?) did a fantastic 5 or so minute piece on MLB network describing the knee/foot placement on collisions. It's probalby out there somewhwere.




    Looking at the Posey video again above... I'm amazed how much INSIDE the baseline Fielder is. Sure, he's trying to make it difficult for the throw to make it to Posey. The throw was VERY good... nice and low, maybe just a foot short or two - with a perfect throw being a little deeper but on the same line and caught at the same height.

    But, a runner with ANY agility whatsover (or even just a better baserunner?) slides far outside the line taken by Fielder, and is probably safe. Look where Fielder's lead foot crosses the plate. It misses the plate completely and is in fair territory. Pretty poor effort in hindsight. The sweep tag hits the trailing leg. Posey was quite fortunate in my opinion. He was set on avoiding a collision (which is fine of course) but only recorded the out due to a poor line and poorer slide. Had Fielder slid properly, or even hooked the plate, Posey gets roasted for being overly cautious to the point of not recording the out, and the collision gets replayed ad nausem again.

    The general baseball fan now thinking that Posey did nothing wrong on the collision, which is of course incorrect. Being a likeable guy and one hell of a player will get you that I guess.
    Last edited by StanTheMan; 11-08-2012 at 03:45 PM.
    "Herman Franks to Sal Yvars to Bobby Thomson. Ralph Branca to Bobby Thomson to Helen Rita... cue Russ Hodges."

  6. #6
    Thanks. But should we be teaching amateur players to block the plate or use the swipe tag? Personally, I lean towards teaching the swipe tag although all of the catchers I get, and all have had lessons, are being taught to block the plate,i.e, to get down on one knee and hold the ball with 2 hands, . I'm not saying I know the answer. I guess the reasoning for blocking the plate is that it is important to prevent a run and not just record an out. I see safety as paramount and an injury to a catcher in a blind, vulnerable position as being unnecessary.

    The barreling over of a catcher used to be a common and accepted play. I've seen and experienced many of these. I like the rules now that discourage this and I am also against the head first slide. No need for it. And as long as the knees move to a position where they are facing the runner I don't see a swipe tag as being less efficient. It's similar to any other tag-get the tag down, go after the runners feet, and keep your own legs in a position to flex or give.

    I didn't use to like the rule requiring runners to slide straight into second base on a dp. But now I realize it's a good rule-it's too advanced for a hs and below middle infielder to safely get out of the way of an approaching runner.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by omg View Post
    Thanks. But should we be teaching amateur players to block the plate or use the swipe tag? Personally, I lean towards teaching the swipe tag although all of the catchers I get, and all have had lessons, are being taught to block the plate. I see safety as paramount and an injury to a catcher in a blind, vulnerable position as being unnecessary.
    .
    Agree.
    With younger kids, it's a no-brainer.
    With HS-level kids, it's still a no-brainer, for me. It's not a macho issue. It's about keeping a key player healthy. I'm coming at it from the standpoint of being hard-nosed and geared to finishing the best we can in the standings. Skilled catchers are at a premium. I hope to keep them in one piece. I make darned sure my catcher's know that I prefer that they don't block the plate.

    In reality, instinct often takes over. Plus, bang-bang plays put players in awkward positions.
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    Just wondering since I never played catcher...

    Does it make sense to teach both aspects and once the catcher learns from experience, he can make up his mind as to how he wants to play the plate in a given situation? Being smaller and fast, I was able to elude quite a few sweep tags as a baserunner, but if the catcher was centered low and his eyes got big, he was quite imposing and I had issues since I couldn't simply bowl him over.

    I think, like most things in baseball, situational play comes into things. But if I was coaching, I'd teach my catchers to spear up their lead leg - meaning show that lead knee's hard pad out in front while keeping his foot planted on the ball (of his foot) to mitigate possible damage. Depending on the age, sometimes the simple act of lining up to take on the baserunner will make that runner hesitate. Honestly, it hurts sometimes clashing with a catcher and if a kid's not "Pete Rose hitting Ray Fosse", he could think twice.

    Just my 2 cents.
    "Chuckie doesn't take on 2-0. Chuckie's hackin'." - Chuck Carr two days prior to being released by the Milwaukee Brewers

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Grimm View Post
    Just wondering since I never played catcher...

    Does it make sense to teach both aspects and once the catcher learns from experience, he can make up his mind as to how he wants to play the plate in a given situation? Being smaller and fast, I was able to elude quite a few sweep tags as a baserunner, but if the catcher was centered low and his eyes got big, he was quite imposing and I had issues since I couldn't simply bowl him over.

    I think, like most things in baseball, situational play comes into things. But if I was coaching, I'd teach my catchers to spear up their lead leg - meaning show that lead knee's hard pad out in front while keeping his foot planted on the ball (of his foot) to mitigate possible damage. Depending on the age, sometimes the simple act of lining up to take on the baserunner will make that runner hesitate. Honestly, it hurts sometimes clashing with a catcher and if a kid's not "Pete Rose hitting Ray Fosse", he could think twice.

    Just my 2 cents.
    Yes, it's an interesting point. As a runner, I'd rather have the catcher swipe tagging me.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Grimm View Post
    Just wondering since I never played catcher...

    Does it make sense to teach both aspects and once the catcher learns from experience, he can make up his mind as to how he wants to play the plate in a given situation? .

    Not realistic, IMO, for the typical HS-level catcher. IMO, K.I.S., as opposed to asking an amateur catcher to make a split-second read.

    I seem to remember that Carlton Fisk stopped blocking the plate after his injury.
    If reading the play (to determine whether to swipe or block) is realistic for HS catchers, why didn't Carlton go that route?
    IMO, the blocking instinct is too strong. Better to make swipe-tag the default approach, if you're concerned.
    ______________

    Edited to add this quote:

    Carlton Fisk told Peter Gammons that he learned his lesson after suffering a severe leg injury while blocking the plate in 1974. (Fisk declined to comment for this story.) According to a Gammons tweet, “He learned to swipe tag and went on to Cooperstown.”
    Last edited by skipper5; 11-08-2012 at 05:06 PM.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by omg View Post
    Thanks. But should we be teaching amateur players to block the plate or use the swipe tag? Personally, I lean towards teaching the swipe tag although all of the catchers I get, and all have had lessons, are being taught to block the plate,i.e, to get down on one knee and hold the ball with 2 hands, . I'm not saying I know the answer. I guess the reasoning for blocking the plate is that it is important to prevent a run and not just record an out. I see safety as paramount and an injury to a catcher in a blind, vulnerable position as being unnecessary.

    The barreling over of a catcher used to be a common and accepted play. I've seen and experienced many of these. I like the rules now that discourage this and I am also against the head first slide. No need for it. And as long as the knees move to a position where they are facing the runner I don't see a swipe tag as being less efficient. It's similar to any other tag-get the tag down, go after the runners feet, and keep your own legs in a position to flex or give.

    I didn't use to like the rule requiring runners to slide straight into second base on a dp. But now I realize it's a good rule-it's too advanced for a hs and below middle infielder to safely get out of the way of an approaching runner.
    You make some excellent points here regarding safety at the lower levels (HS and below).

    Even though we always talk about injuries to catchers attempting to block the plate, a freak accident that happen to a teammate of mine when I was 14, left an indelible mark in my pea brain, that has me cringing at some of those close, "bang-bang" plays at the plate, when everything is heading for that same small place at the plate.

    So, 13 year old teammate on 2nd, tries to score on a ball hit out to RF, I was in the on-deck circle, so I did as coached, and get to a position to signal for a slide or not. Seeing that the play was going to be close, I'm pretty close to the action, and am signaling and yelling, "slide, slide!!"......

    Well he did, and I don't know if the sound like a bat breaking, as his tib/fib (lower leg for those not familiar) hit the catcher's left shin guard was worse, or seeing the odd angle that his leg ended up in after breaking both bones down there, but it is something that I'll never forget.
    Last edited by mudvnine; 11-08-2012 at 05:08 PM.
    In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

  12. #12
    Regarding asking amateur catchers to read the play--block or swipe...

    "As Comcast SportsNet wrote on Sunday, Posey had already been ordered not to block the plate—in the summer of his rookie year in 2010—shortly after Carlos Santana suffered a season-ending injury.

    .... Posey admits that his no-plate-blocking order was overwhelmed by instinct...."

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index...s-to-mauer-do/
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  13. #13
    As an old catcher, I'm sorta in line with Ben Grimm. Certainly for younger players on the small field, you don't want to teach plate blocking, although they're at lesser risk of serious injury because they're wearing rubber cleats which which almost never get so caught in the dirt on a heavy-contact slide that the player snaps a bone.

    As I got older, I would plant my left foot in the baseline as the runner approached the plate so as to make him slide around me. As he got closer and it became apparent that the ball would not sufficiently beat the runner so as to permit me to get my upper body down to absorb the slide, I rocked onto my right foot and keep my left foot just grazing the ground so that a sliding runner would simply brush my left foot away if he opted to slide straight for the plate. Of course, by the time that you have to make this "rocker" decision, the ball will presumably be close enough to the plate that you're also moving toward the ball.

    Remember that the only advantage to blocking the plate - other than to intimidate the runner to slide around you and give you more time to make the tag - is that it allows you to prevent the runner from reaching the plate in the instance where the throw reaches you before the runner reaches the plate but is too high for you to get the tag down before he makes the touch of the plate. If the throw comes earlier than that, the block is unnecessary because you can tag him in time in any event; if the throw is later than you are simply obstructing the plate and the runner will be called safe. So, the times where you legitimately need to block the plate will come maybe once a season for any non-pro catcher. Given that minuscule benefit, most are better off not trying to actually brace themselves for the block unless they already have the ball in hand after being forced by the throw to get into the baseline.

    Mud, the fact that you were there to tell the guy to slide puts you in the upper 30% of players (at least in this age - I just don't see kids doing it and it drives me nuts). I trust you've stopped beating yourself up about it - if the runner hit the catcher hard enough to break a bone, he probably started his slide way too late.

  14. #14
    (Duplicate)

  15. #15
    (Duplicate)

  16. #16
    I wonder why the catcher doesn't just basically use the same footwork as a middle infielder would use in making a tag on a throw from an outfielder or catcher since the rules prohibit any type of barreling over from the runner. The rules are the same for every base.

  17. #17
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    Because for years the runner has been allowed to crush the catcher. One of those things that have developed outside of the rules (or at least a different interpretation of them).

    Coaching outside the coaches box, phantom tags of 2B by middle infielders on double plays, etc.
    Last edited by StanTheMan; 11-10-2012 at 04:59 PM.
    "Herman Franks to Sal Yvars to Bobby Thomson. Ralph Branca to Bobby Thomson to Helen Rita... cue Russ Hodges."

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by StanTheMan View Post
    Because for years the runner has been allowed to crush the catcher.
    Right but that's my point. Why don't we just teach catchers to straddle and drop the tag? I equate it to this play: runner on first base, deep fly ball to the outfield and unexpectedly the outfielder makes the catch. Now the runner at first, who didn't think the ball would be caught, has to retreat to first before the outfielder's throw. How would the first baseman make the tag? Typically, straddle the base and drop the tag.

  19. #19
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    But the runner returning to first (or second/third as well as advancing to them) does not want to overrun the bag... Ever.
    The fastest way to the bag is always to slide. Not so into home. A slide is not required nor is it the fastest way to the plate.

    If a "you have to slide into home" rule was in place, your straddle/tag would indeed be taught.
    "Herman Franks to Sal Yvars to Bobby Thomson. Ralph Branca to Bobby Thomson to Helen Rita... cue Russ Hodges."

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by StanTheMan View Post
    But the runner returning to first (or second/third as well as advancing to them) does not want to overrun the bag... Ever.
    The fastest way to the bag is always to slide. Not so into home. A slide is not required nor is it the fastest way to the plate.

    If a "you have to slide into home" rule was in place, your straddle/tag would indeed be taught.
    Sliding into home is required in every league I coach in, at least as I understand it. If you run in to the catcher you are ejected. And have to sit out the next game.

  21. #21
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    That's great. Then teach the straddle... Or whatever you want.

    Especially if none of your players ever expect to play at a higher level. But we are obviously talking about more than just your league here.
    "Herman Franks to Sal Yvars to Bobby Thomson. Ralph Branca to Bobby Thomson to Helen Rita... cue Russ Hodges."

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by omg View Post
    Right but that's my point. Why don't we just teach catchers to straddle and drop the tag? I equate it to this play: runner on first base, deep fly ball to the outfield and unexpectedly the outfielder makes the catch. Now the runner at first, who didn't think the ball would be caught, has to retreat to first before the outfielder's throw. How would the first baseman make the tag? Typically, straddle the base and drop the tag.
    Uh... this is not a tag play; the first baseman just needs to touch the base.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Ursa Major View Post
    Uh... this is not a tag play; the first baseman just needs to touch the base.
    What? No way. When did they start making that a force? I forgot to mention that the outfielder really trapped the ball, the umpire signaled no catch but nobody saw this, and the batter retreated to the dugout before he touched first. Or take this scenario: I was playing first base. Anyways, I'll just have to go with the analogy that the catcher's tag is like any other infielder's tag since I can't get the base runner running into an infielder's tag from the same direction as a base runner from third to home would be coming very easily. Maybe in a rundown. I guess a tag by the third baseman on a throw from an outfielder is the best I can do.

    And hey, don't mention this to anyone, okay? Let's just keep it between us. Let's just forget about it.
    Last edited by omg; 11-11-2012 at 05:03 AM.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by StanTheMan View Post
    That's great. Then teach the straddle... Or whatever you want.

    Especially if none of your players ever expect to play at a higher level. But we are obviously talking about more than just your league here.
    What higher level is there? I'm basically talking hs ball here where sliding in to home is a standard nationwide rule, or at least not barreling into the runner is. I'd be surprised if runners are allowed to barrel over the catcher in college ball but maybe they are.

    The same basic notion applies to sliding into second base on a double play. The base runner is not allowed to take out the fielder in hs ball and below.

    So I think there are certain adjustments that can be made in hs level and below to get an out and stop a run. I don't see these hurting anyone's development if they are going to go pro. I guess Legion has pro rules, maybe some showcase/summer leagues. i think in hs ball a coach is looking for an easier way just for the fielder to make the catch since that is far from a given.
    Last edited by omg; 11-11-2012 at 05:00 AM.

  25. #25
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    Even then, the "straddle" would work poorly on a throw from the right field corner, or from the cutoff man who is on or near the right field line.
    "Herman Franks to Sal Yvars to Bobby Thomson. Ralph Branca to Bobby Thomson to Helen Rita... cue Russ Hodges."

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