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NY Yankees Draft Switch-Throwing Catcher
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I’ve remarked in the past on how nobody is much concerned against major league baseball’s bigotry against left-handed catchers, even though there is no agreed upon rationalization for why no lefthander has caught in the big leagues since the 1980s.

Today the New York Yankees drafted in the first round (23rd pick overall) a high school kid named Anthony Seigler who is totally ambidextrous. From Bleacher Report:

Meet Anthony Seigler, the Switch-Hitting, Switch-Pitching MLB Draft Gem
MAY 29, 2018

The most interesting player in the MLB draft this June is a switch-hitting catcher.

And a right-handed pitcher. And a left-handed pitcher. A starter. And a closer. An infielder. And, oh yes, an outfielder.

He’s Anthony Seigler, an 18-year-old high school senior from Cartersville, Georgia, and trust me, you’ve never seen anyone quite like him. He’s Shohei Ohtani, if Ohtani turned around and started throwing left-handed too.

Ohtani is the 6’4″ Japanese ballplayer who is both pitching and batting as a designated hitter for the California Angels this season. He’s 4-1 with a 3.18 ERA as a starting pitcher (usually once per week) and is hitting .283 with six homers as a DH (usually during the middle of the week when not pitching). Babe Ruth did about the same 100 years ago in 1918, going 13-7 as a pitcher and leading the league with 11 home runs.

He’s the switch-pitcher Pat Venditte, if Venditte started a game behind the plate and ended it on the mound.

Venditte is a switch pitcher with LA Dodgers this season.

He’s the guy who could play all nine positions in one game, except he could do it one day throwing right-handed and the next day throwing left-handed.

“It’s a unique toolset,” as one Georgia-based scout said. “You just don’t see it.” …

He’s likely to be drafted as a catcher, which would also be his position if he opts not to sign and honors a commitment to the University of Florida. …

Believe it or not, switch-pitching came naturally for Seigler. It’s easier than switch-hitting, he said, even though there are plenty of switch-hitters in the big leagues and no switch-pitchers besides Venditte, who has appeared in 44 major league games since 2015.

It was as simple as picking up a ball and throwing it, sometimes with his right hand, sometimes with his left. …

I’ve heard that the very best fielders, such as Ozzie Smith, tend to be ambidextrous but I could be wrong about that.

He throws right-handed when he’s behind the plate or in the infield. He throws a football left-handed but shoots a basketball left-handed (he didn’t play either sport in high school). But he writes right-handed.

As for pitching, that depends.

He has more movement left-handed, throwing in the mid-80s. He has more power right-handed, when he’ll sometimes top 90 mph.

When he starts a game, he throws left-handed. When he comes in as a closer, he goes for the power and throws right-handed.

One theory about why there are no left-handed catchers is because, it is widely believed, left-handers throws tend to curve more than right-handers throws. Hardthrowing left handed catchers might get converted into pitchers because movement on the ball is good in a pitcher and bad in a catcher, who is better off throwing to second in a straight line.

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  1. Bugg says:

    Was at a minor league game between the Brooklyn Cyclones and Venditte’s Staten Island Yankees a few years back when Venditte faced a switch-hitting Brooklyn batter. Both parties kept switching lefty/righty to the point of confusion. MLB then had to promulgate a rule that the batter has to pick one side in an at bat an stick with that , unless of course the team in the field changes pitchers.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  2. Lot says:

    He’s a Navajo, and looks unmixed. Navajos mostly seem to have English last names.

    • Replies: @trelane
    , @jon
    , @John Q Public
  3. Neoconned says:

    I DEMAND this thread be #metooed! Why should we bimbos be forces to sit around and UGH! LISTEN TO NERDS TALK ABOUT BASEBALL STATISTICS????

    • Replies: @anonymous
  4. istevefan says:

    batting as a designated hitter for the California Angels this season.

    I still call them the California Angels too.

    • LOL: E. Rekshun
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  5. With analytics and more rational managing strategies, it seems like versatility is going to become more important. In the old days, managers maybe didn’t really appreciate the value of matchups, the shift, the starter-setup-closer paradigm and so on, but now all the analytics can give them the confidence to manage “creatively” when in the past these things would have been considered head-case eccentricities.

    Switch-hitters, switch-pitchers and guys who can play any position open up a lot of possibilities that were maybe not as exploitable years ago as they are now.

    I don’t follow the NL closely but it seems like the next big thing could be pitchers who can hit. Not sure why Ohtani ended up in the AL.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  6. @istevefan

    What are they called lately?

    • Replies: @Jake
    , @istevefan
    , @Anon
  7. JohnnyD says:

    There’s actually good reasons to discriminate against left-handed catchers. For one, they have a harder time throwing to second and third, when there’s a right-handed batter (most batters are right-handed). Also, it’s a lot easier for right-handed catchers to tag out runners at the plate, since left-handed catchers would have to turn or tag across their bodies.

  8. @Faraday's Bobcat

    Not sure why Ohtani ended up in the AL.

    So he could DH when he wasn’t pitching: he sits on the bench when the Angels are in the field and only comes up to hit. I’m sure he could be a fine rightfielder, but he has a lot on his plate at the moment being a rookie pitcher and a rookie hitter on a new continent where practically nobody speaks Japanese.

    Heck, Giancarlo Stanton is having trouble adjusting merely to living in New York City, so Ohtani is doing fine taking on pitching and hitting without fielding yet.

    • Replies: @Brutusale
  9. @Bugg

    In cases like this, traditionally the rules favor the batter. In that game, the ump decided to favor the pitcher, forcing the batter to choose. The rule now (not just MLB, but all organized baseball) says that should a switch-hitter face a switch-pitcher again, the pitcher must choose and stick with it.

    • Replies: @AnotherDad
  10. Jake says:
    @Steve Sailer

    LA Angels, though by now it may be back to Anaheim Angels. Changing your name mid-season could improve your performance.

  11. istevefan says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

  12. Anon[274] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer

    A few years ago they changed again, from the “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” back to the “Los Angeles Angels”, which is how it’s stylized by the MLB; but I believe they’ve yet to drop “of Anaheim” officially.

    At some point, say in the last decade, there was a law suit between the Angels and the City of Anaheim over the name and their breaking contract over to promote Anaheim. I think they came to some agreement but I don’t know the outcome.

    I also recall Los Angeles wasn’t fond of the Angels going back to “Los Angeles” either but I don’t think that really manifested into any sort of official action.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  13. @Anon

    I’m too old to care what Arte Moreno’s marketing consultant come up with this year. They were the California Angels in Jim Fregosi’s day, so that’s what they’ll stay to me.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    , @JMcG
  14. Anon[274] • Disclaimer says:

    Never underestimate Brian Cashman and that chip on his shoulder.

    He is a very driven man, which I guess you have to be to survive New York and George Steinbrenner for so long, working his way up from the mailroom (to exaggerate a bit.)

    He was the young GM wunderkind before all the Ivy League hedgefund guys became interested in taking over baseball. That, I believe, eats at him. Because once the Epsteins&Luhnows got involved, suddenly he wasn’t all that special. The typical refrains being: “He wins with teams built for him.” “He only wins because of Yankee largesse.” “He wins because it’s New York”…and so on and so forth.

    So for the last 20 years he’s been obsessed with proving that he can outsmart the Ivy League guys, build a team under budget (under budget for the New York Yankees at least; ) and have it be one built from the ground up under him, which he was finally given a chance to try a few years ago. If he could move the team to Tom’s River for a few seasons just to get rid of the last criticism, I think he’d do it.

  15. vinny says:

    Interesting post, I hadn’t thought of this: “Hardthrowing left handed catchers might get converted into pitchers because movement on the ball is good in a pitcher and bad in a catcher”
    But, maybe it’s just the hard-throwing part. If you can throw hard with the left arm, why waste your time trying to catch?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  16. @vinny

    Starting catchers typically get paid more than relief pitchers. Russell Martin, for example, makes $20 million per year without being a huge star. And teams have to carry a backup catcher so there are a fair number of roster spots for catchers who aren’t super good.

    If you can throw lefty like Clayton Kershaw, yeah, it makes more sense to pitch than catch. But there are likely a number of lefties who could be MLB catchers but not MLB pitchers except for the prejudice against lefthanded catchers.

    I just bring this example up of a modestly prominent example of job discrimination based on poorly articulated prejudices that isn’t an Identity Politics Crisis because I’m pretty interested in what qualifies as Identity Politics and what doesn’t. Lefthandedness doesn’t.

    • Replies: @william munny
    , @Pat Boyle
  17. Slightly off topic – The NCAA Women’s softball World Series is under way. Florida State defeated U of Washington 1-0 in the first game of the best of three series. The catcher for UW is left handed.

    As a lefty myself, I find the “widely believed” idea (that I’ve never heard of) that our throws curve more than right handed throws a bit superstitious. I remember being told that right handers are preferred at catcher for two reasons: 1. It’s an easier throw to third base to pick off a base stealer, and 2. A right hander’s glove hand is on his left, making a sweep tag at home plate easier as the base runner coming home approaches home plate from the catcher’s left.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @27 year old
  18. @Steve Sailer

    They were the California Angels in Jim Fregosi’s day, so that’s what they’ll stay to me.

    They traded Fregosi for Nolan Ryan at just the right moment. Is that the most perfectly timed trade ever?

  19. JMcG says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Jim Fregosi hit on my friend’s sister when he managed the pennant winning 93 Phillies. I’ve never enjoyed baseball as much as I did that year. Never dreamed I’d be doing so much better than Lenny Dykstra either.

  20. @MikeatMikedotMike

    You’d think with all the Sabermetrics that somebody would finally count whether catchers throw more to third (where righthanders have an advantage throwing across their bodies) or to first (where lefthanders would have an advantage). My guess is that catchers throw a little more to first than to third.

    These days, not that many guys try to steal third.

  21. @Steve Sailer

    But the batter is also in the way when lefties throw to second. And the decline in stealing has also meant players don’t take as big of leads which means you aren’t trying to pick the guy off at first as a catcher. Unless you are referring to throwing to first on a bunt.

  22. @MikeatMikedotMike
    • Replies: @MikeatMikedotMike
  23. JA says:

    Bill James says the answer is the easy:

    Only 11% of boys are lefties, so, if you have a left-handed kid who can throw, you teach him to be a pitcher.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  24. anonymous[345] • Disclaimer says:

    Agreed. We want more golf course architectural history!

  25. @JA

    But lefthanded pitchers have the platoon advantage (hitters do better against opposite-handed pitchers) against them. There is some need for lefthanded spot relievers to get out lefthanded hitters, but all else being equal a righthanded pitcher has an advantage over a lefthanded pitcher because a majority of hitters are right handed. If lefthanded pitchers have some innate advantage in weird ball movement, okay, but still …

    Anyway, lefthanded hitters have a sizable advantage, so how useful would be a lefthanded hitting catcher with a good throwing arm?

    • Replies: @bartok
  26. BenKenobi says:

    I myself am ambidextrous in a rather odd fashion — left-handed but right-dominant. I write with my left hand, but play all sports and shoot as a rightie.

  27. @Steve Sailer

    My guess is that catchers throw a little more to first than to third.

    I’d guess that’s true. But the batter is more often in the way for left-handers. A right handed batter is dead on in the way for a lefty throwing to 3rd. While for a righty throwing to first the right handed batter is out of the way and even a left-hander is not an issue if it’s fielding a bunt or dealing with a dropped 3rd strike. And then there is the critical throwing to 2nd issue, where the righty/lefty percentages of batters favors the right-throwing catcher.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  28. NY Yankees Draft Switch-Throwing Catcher

    From the article he really isn’t a “switch-throwing catcher“. Rather he is a multi-position player who is a switch-hitter and switch-throwing pitcher. But as a catcher he’s right-hander.

    If the consensus (and Yankee intent) is that he’ll be a catcher, he’s really a non-story other than being versatile position wise and a switch hitter. He isn’t going to be breaking the right-handed catcher paradigm.

  29. @Reg Cæsar

    In cases like this, traditionally the rules favor the batter. In that game, the ump decided to favor the pitcher, forcing the batter to choose. The rule now (not just MLB, but all organized baseball) says that should a switch-hitter face a switch-pitcher again, the pitcher must choose and stick with it.

    This may be traditional, but it seems wrong/unnecessary in the case of baseball.

    Seems to me that the natural order for baseball is that the batter picks a box to stand in and the pitcher should be able to pitch to him any way he likes. And the batter should be free to switch boxes between pitches. No reason this couldn’t be a fun little bit of cat and mouse without causing delay.

    • Replies: @art guerrilla
    , @dwb
  30. @JohnnyD

    No difference throwing to second, but harder throwing to third.

    OTOH, a lefty catcher can throw to first better. That makes throwing out the runner on a bunt easier. That is a bigger deal in softball with a 60’ bade path than in baseball with a 90’ bade path.

    • Replies: @Brutusale
  31. @JohnnyD

    Further, a right-handed catcher’s throw to second is almost a perfectly straight line — from the rt side of the plate/batters box (more or less) to the (looking to center field) the right side of 2nd base. The pitcher can get out of the way by moving slightly to his right.

    A left-handed catcher’s throw to second would not be straight rather it would be going over the (looking to center field) the left side of the rubber, more or less. Slightly longer and the pitcher would have to consider that when getting out of the way.

  32. @AnotherDad

    Right handed catcher Yadier Molina picks runners off first base even with left handers at bat.

    Sabermetricians can count stolen base percentages with right and left handed batters at the plate. I’m not aware of a strategy that says you should have the runner on first steal with a left hander up at the plate instead of a right hander.

    Thinking about it, I also find the sweep tag at home plate theory dubious. My impression is that catchers often lose control of the ball when they try to sweep their awkward catcher’s mitt on his left hand from right to left to catch the sliding runner at home. Runners often knock the ball lose in part because the sweep tag doesn’t have the glove behind the ball like a lefthanded catcher would have.

    The sweep tag theory could be true but I don’t see that anybody has garnered any data to validate it.

    My point is that America has a couple of obsessions: worrying about discrimination and analyzing baseball statistics. Yet nobody worries enough about discrimination against lefthanders to analyze the statistics that could provide support for (or disconfirmation of) the discrimination against left handed catchers.

    I’m mostly interested in why lefthanders aren’t an identity politics category for the purpose of who has the burden of proof for the obvious disparate impact discrimination. I think there are reasons, but they are worth understanding.

  33. jon says:

    He’s a Navajo, and looks unmixed. Navajos mostly seem to have English last names.

    I was wondering about that. When I heard he was Navajo, based on the name, I was expecting to see a member of the Elizabeth Warren tribe. But as you said, he looks to be purely Navajo, or close to it. Why did the Navajo adopt English names so thoroughly? I grew up near a reservation, and I am ised to people that look like this kid to have names of the “Running Bear” type.

    • Replies: @Lot
  34. @Steve Sailer

    One easy reason is because local little leagues usually do not even have a lefty catcher’s mitt. Almost every kid who learns to catch does so with league equipment, figures out he is good and/or likes doing it, and then goes on to buy the relatively expensive gear. Other kids use their righty big brothers’ gear. Lefties in many cases never get a chance to figure out if they are good and/or like it. Little league coaches have little imagination, and usually throw the talented lefties on the mound or at first, because that is what everyone else does.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  35. bartok says:
    @Steve Sailer

    all else being equal a righthanded pitcher has an advantage over a lefthanded pitcher because a majority of hitters are right handed

    If true, there would be a lower % of lefty starting pitchers than % leftys in the general population. Which I’m guessing isn’t true, because …

    Anyway, lefthanded hitters have a sizable advantage

    … which increases the usefulness of lefty starting pitchers to reach some equilibrium where lefty hitters are double the % of lefties in the general population and lefty starting pitchers are somewhat less than that but substantially more than the % lefties in the general population.

    Kind of like the math problem of comping an executive for his income taxes – at first glance it seems that you would shoot off to infinity as higher income causes higher taxes. But in fact it converges, e.g. to comp an executive’s 5% state income tax, increase his pay by 5.26%.

  36. @bartok

    Or perhaps lefthanded pitchers have an advantage in ball movement, as is widely believed.

    Baseball now has tons of ball-tracking scanners, so that ought to be checkable.

  37. @bartok

    I’m interested in why the math works that most teams want to have a couple of lefty starters even though they usually suffer the platoon disadvantage.

    Is it because lefthanded hitters often aren’t quite as good as their stats seem because they usually have the platoon advantage?

    For example, the Dodgers had for 12 years a lefthanded outfielder named Andre Ethier who went to a couple of All Star games because he could rip right handed pitching. But against lefthanded pitching he was maybe a Triple A level talent. Are there more lefthanded hitters who are like Ethier in having a huge platoon advantage against right handed pitching but crumble against lefthanded pitching? I could imagine it’s true because lefthanders are highly over-represented in MLB, even though four of the positions (C, 2B, SS, 3B) are right handed fielder only. So the OF and 1B are jammed with lefthanded hitters.

    What % of lefthanded hitters are righthanded with the glove?

    I guess my overall question is whether there are asymmetrical innate differences on average between lefthanders and righthanders.

    Some of the differences are due to the rules of the game. For example, lefthanders beat out more infield grounders because they finish their swing facing first base.

    But the long held belief that lefthanded pitchers have more natural movement on the ball would be an example of an asymmetry that’s not just due to the arbitrary rules of the game.

    • Replies: @AnotherDad
    , @Paleo Liberal
  38. @william munny

    That’s one reason there aren’t many lefthanded pro golfers — they learn with right handed clubs.

    On the other hand, it’s not hard to get a boy’s lefthanded catcher’s mitt. Parents spend a bundle on baseball equipment. When I played baseball from age 8 to 14, the park supplied three bats per game, but now everybody shows up in an SUV with dad carrying a duffel bag of their own carbon fiber bats.

    It’s not like dads don’t think through things like: my son is strong, coordinated, and tough, but he’s not fast runner. His best chance in baseball is playing catcher. Let’s go to the store!

  39. @Steve Sailer

    I think it’s reasonable to say that old tendencies in major league baseball tend to die hard (unless a rule is made to specifically address something; like sliding out of the base path to break up a double play), and the idea that a lefty can’t or shouldn’t play catcher has as much or more to do with the old school than any metric.

    Maybe the base runners should start running clockwise every other inning in the spirit of diversity and inclusiveness. (Joking)

  40. @Steve Sailer

    I can attest to that – As a lefty I learned how to golf right handed and batting right handed is more natural than left handed, although I can do both.

    Both of my daughters play softball in a rec league. Pretty much every kid over 10 has their own bat (some of which are composite bats that cost over $200) and helmet, and the girls who catch have their own gear as well.

  41. @27 year old

    Was that from game one? I was watching with the volume muted.

  42. gsjackson says:

    Left-handed catcher in MLB in the 1980s? Who? I wouldn’t have thought there was one in the 20th century.

    • Replies: @njguy73
  43. @Steve Sailer

    “Thinking about it, I also find the sweep tag at home plate theory dubious.”

    To clarify, I was merely stating the reasons I was given as to why a catcher has a disadvantage playing catcher, which I was likely told by my little league coach after I asked him if I could catch. They don’t sound unreasonable, but as you say there’s no data on them either way.

    As far as a lefty’s throwing motion creative unwanted break – I find this hard to believe. The mechanics of throwing the ball are the same for a righty of lefty. An overhand throw that produces a 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock rotation shouldn’t break or curve over the course of its travel. Are left handed quarterbacks throwing curve footballs? Probably not if their mechanics are correct.

    “I’m mostly interested in why lefthanders aren’t an identity politics category for the purpose of who has the burden of proof for the obvious disparate impact discrimination.”

    Are blacks and other minorities left-handed at an equal rate as whites? Either way, give it time; SJW’s will recruit lefty’s to their cause sooner or later.

    • Replies: @gsjackson
  44. A Triumph TR3 made me ambidextrous. It probably made me become a pitcher too.

    Here is the culprit, a red one exactly like ours:

    It’s interesting because I was born right-handed. A car accident when I was six years old made me switch to doing everything with my left hand.

    Our Triumph TR3 broke a steering link and flipped over one night in Huntington Beach. Mom had the top down and we landed upside down. The accident made the local paper, with photographs.

    My right arm was broken in two places. Mom came out OK thank God. When the cast was finally removed, I couldn’t use my right-hander’s baseball glove, because I was now throwing left. Dad bought me a lefty’s glove, and that was it.

    Little League coaches made me into a pitcher, I think because I threw left-handed and could get it over the plate. I always thought it would be more fun to play other positions (more fielding fun! plus I could hit and run) but that’s how it went. My father loved it because evidently pitching carries some cachet.

    I wrote with my left hand all through school and college; then Dad suggested I try right-handed. (He was concerned about my terrible penmanship as I began my career.) Within a week, I taught myself to write with my right hand. I have used both hands to write ever since. Clients sitting at my desk have remarked with surprise when I unthinkingly switch my pen from one hand to the other when I’m moving to a different paper on my other side.

  45. @AnotherDad

    agree 100%, A. not that common, so what’s the big deal; B. there are numerous situations where a pitcher is changed mid-at-bat from righty/lefty; there are even more numerous situations where a righty/lefty pitcher faces both sides of the plate, so what’s the big deal…
    as to the original anecdote which triggered the rule change, WTF was the ‘confusion’ ? again, NOT as if there are never either right-handed AND left-handed pitchers, NOT as if there are never right-handed AND left-handed batters, and NOT as if there are never all the combinations that implies… wtf is the ‘confusion’ ? the batter had to change from right-handed bat to a left-handed bat ?
    as an aside, the kid has a special 6 finger glove made so he can switch hands without skipping a beat…
    as a gator fan (just watched the baseball team qualify for super-regionals after midnight), I hope he decides to skip the pros for now and play with the gators…

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  46. gsjackson says:

    Most thrown baseballs have a bit of tail on them, even if you come straight over the top. A left-handed catcher’s throw to second tails away from the base runner, a right-hander’s toward him.

  47. njguy73 says:

    Left-handed catcher in MLB in the 1980s? Who?

    Mike Squires of the White Sox. Threw left, primarily a first baseman (and 1981 AL Gold Glove winner,) filled in at catcher for two games in 1980, and even played third base for thirteen games in 1984. That versatilty kept him in the majors. He wasn’t much of a hitter. His lifetime slash line was .260/.321./.318 in 1779 PA, with only six homers.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  48. @njguy73

    He’s a pretty good trivia answer as a lefthanded catcher and lefthanded third baseman.

    • Replies: @Paleo Liberal
  49. @art guerrilla

    The reason they needed a new rule for this switch pitcher is that a switch hitter and a switch pitcher could be there all day switching back and forth without a pitch being thrown. Baseball is usually very accommodating about timeouts, so the whole thing could turn into farce.

    • Replies: @art guerrilla
  50. ganderson says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Lots of hockey players (including yours truly) who do everything right handed play hockey left handed. I have heard, although I’m too lazy to check, that Canada has the largest % of left handed golfers- about 1/4. I wonder if that’s true in other hockey playing nations/regions? Minnesota? Sweden and Finland?

  51. @Steve Sailer

    I’ve seen plenty of left-handed 1B but never a left-handed 3B. Of course in youth sports I’ve seen players who couldn’t field well lefty or righty.

    In youth sports they often try to get the tallest kid on the team to play 1B. That way the kid can get the ball on a bad throw and have a foot on the bag. I remember one softball game when a very tall girl did the splits so she could get a bad throw and still have her foot on the bag. Lots of cheers after that play.

  52. @Lot

    Thanks, I was curious. I had assumed white father and Latina mother.

  53. iSteve: come for the realtalk, stay for the minutiae of racquetball and handball, golf course architecture, and left-handed baseball players.

    • Agree: MBlanc46
    • LOL: Paleo Liberal
  54. MLB would be more interesting if they’d change the rules for these ambidextrous guys to be able to change sides each pitch.

    MLB’s rule that pitcher/batter has to stay same side for duration of each batter is BORING.

  55. theMann says:

    You may be able to get a catchers mitt for your right hand now, although I just checked Amazon without success, but when I was young it was impossible. So, real equipment problems for lefthanders coming up. If they even let a lefty play catcher at the youngest level, he is probably making do with a 1B mitt. And will have to hit like Godzilla just to get some play time.

    All pitchers live somewhere between flaky and wingnut crazy, and throwing to the strike zone framed by a lefty can really wig them out.

    Doesn’t really matter swipe tagging a runner from third, because a) any catcher worth his salt can barehand any ball and b) what does matter is how quickly you field a ball cleanly and position to tag.

    Any catcher with a strong, accurate arm can snap throw to any base at any time, but if he is left handed, they will make him a pitcher or die trying. So, more institutional resistance. (Btw, a lefty is much better positioned to pick runners off first, as the baserunner is screened by the catcher’s body a bit longer on the throw to the mound or first.)

    There is no absolute reason against it, like there would for being a left handed SS, but you will never see lefty catchers.

  56. Brutusale says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Stanton is on track to strike out more than 200 times.

    Meanwhile, the guy that was spoken of in Boston as a consolation prize after losing out on Stanton, J.D. Martinez, is tied with Mike Trout for the league league in homers.

    Trout has definitely become that once-in-a-generation talent.

  57. Brutusale says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Sweep tag on plays at the plate. Not many guys are trying to score from first.

  58. Brutusale says:
    @Paleo Liberal

    Big difference throwing to second, depending on the hitter.

    I was one of those guys who, as a hitter, took away the outside corner by setting up as close to the plate as possible in the box. Getting hit never bothered me, aside from the beanball, and there were very few guys with the velocity that I couldn’t get my head out of the way. In a situation where the right-handed catcher had to throw to second, he either had to sidestep to make the throw or hit me with the ball. All perfectly legal.

    A lefty catcher would only have that problem with an analogous lefty hitter.

    • Replies: @Paleo Liberal
  59. @Steve Sailer

    okay, that makes a certain amount of sense, BUT that goes all baby-with-the-bathwater… simpler solution was simply to make the rule you had to make/take a pitch at that side before the pitcher/batter could switch… sure, they could still run up the clock a little bit on that, but -c’mon- I bet there is an hour of watching batters latch and re-latch their freaking batting gloves Velcro straps 2 or 3 times EVERY pitch…
    (oh, and thanks -not- for auto-capitalizing shit I don’t want to, like I… see… *sigh*)
    I am both old school and new skizzie at the same time: wood bats, bitchez, get used to it… BUT, I would make it so they had a wireless hookup (as is being experimented with) betw coach/pitcher/catcher/etc to directly, securely, and QUICKLY communicate pitches, etc…
    oh, and ditch a BUNCH of the sissy baseball ‘traditions’ like, Thou Must Not even barely flip a bat or give a look to the pitcher, etc after a home run, ’cause, well, cause it is disrespectful or some such bullshit ‘tradition’ ?
    you have GOT to be kidding me ! ! !
    football/basketball needs less trash-talking, baseball needs more…

  60. Ian M. says:

    I think it would be great if this guy and Ohtani can succeed. Makes baseball more interesting. If they (and Venditte) do succeed, I wonder if these sorts of things might become somewhat more common.

    There used to be some hockey players who were ambidextrous, where a guy would switch his stick from the right hand to the left hand as needed. Gordie Howe was known to do it on occasion, but I think Maurice “Rocket” Richard was the guy who was somewhat famous for doing it (I think he would even shoot forehand both righthanded and lefthanded).

    Of course, that was back when the stick blades weren’t curved. Wouldn’t work so well in today’s game.

    To tie this comment to the racquetball thread as well, I will sometimes switch from the right hand to the left hand to avoid making what would otherwise be a difficult backhand shot. I also have played lefthanded against girls to make the game more competitive. But I’m not ambidextrous generally (though I do shoot pool lefthanded; but I’m also not any good).

  61. dwb says:

    AFAIK, the logic behind getting the pitcher to declare, and then allowing the batter to switch is that in baseball, each pitcher must face at least one hitter. A pinch hitter can be announced, for example, and a releif pitcher brought it. The team at bat can then use a PH for the PH, but the defensive team may not bring in a new reliever until the current one has faced the batter.

  62. Pat Boyle says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Yes but prejudice against the sinister handedness is common enough outside of baseball. I know because I used to be left handed.

    Sister Fidelis didn’t like left handed boys. She said she liked to look down a row in her fourth grade class and see every student with a pencil in their right hand. She encouraged me to write with my right hand by means of a ruler across the knuckles. Corporal punishment of children is OK apparently, if you wear a religious costume.

    So I began my career as an ambidextrous guy. I ate wrong, I was told. I held the knife or the fork with whichever hand I wished. This scandalized my mother for some reason.

    I’m told that lefties have intellectual advantages and some behavioral disadvantages. I wonder if these persist if you are ‘cured’ of being a lefty?

  63. Pat Boyle says:
    @Steve Sailer

    These days, not that many guys try to steal third.

    That’s a pity. They should look into some rule changes to promote more base stealing.

    I came to Oakland just about when the A’s had the ‘Bash Brothers’ (McGuire and Canseco) at the plate and Eckersley in relief. But the most entertaining guy on the field was always Ricky Henderson. I’m too young to have caught Ty Cobb so Henderson will have to do. As they used to say the best thing in baseball was Cobb loose on the base path.

  64. @Steve Sailer

    I’m interested in why the math works that most teams want to have a couple of lefty starters even though they usually suffer the platoon disadvantage.

    Arms race? MAD?

    Maybe, you have a lefty on the roster so that you aren’t particularly vulnerable to a team that stacks their roster with lefties. It’s sort of shared deterence: no one can go overboard with lefties because other teams have lefty pitchers. You can be the team that tries to cheat employing no lefty pitchers and wins … but if you get good doing it, teams competitive in your division will skew their lineups left playing you and eventually go acquire more left talent.

    It’s like the sickle cell gene thing–balancing selection. Two much would kill you, too little and malaria kills you, “some” is just right.

  65. Anonym says:

    The BBC study shows that ambidextrous people are more likely to be bisexual. This would imply that switch hitters are more likely to be switch hitters, colloquially.

  66. @Brutusale


    It would be fun if a baseball team platooned the catchers depending on if the pitcher were lefty or righty, if the other team platoons their hitters.

    One interesting tidbit. In the late 1970s for the Phillies all the right-handed pitchers used Bob Boone as their catcher. The other catcher, Tim McCarver, only caught Steve “Lefty” Carlton. Carlton started every 4th day, so between 25-30% of the starts.

    There, I got the words Lefty Catcher and Steve in the same sentence without referring to a lefty catcher or Steve Sailor. Do I get a prize?

  67. I bat righty and throw lefty. In Little League, aside from 1B, I wasn’t allowed to play infield on my non-pitch days. Gave up my major league dreams when I didn’t make my varsity HS team for the third time Junior year; got a job, a car, and a girlfriend.

    I will sometimes switch from the right hand to the left hand to avoid making what would otherwise be a difficult backhand shot.

    I do the same in racquetball and tennis.

  68. @Steve Sailer

    In big college softball, there are far more lefty hitters.
    If a girl is very speedy, when she is growing up, her coaches will usually have her bat from the left even if she is a natural righty.

    Not only that, these girls will bat in a weird way called a “slap”, which is almost like a running bunt. THe girl actually steps forwards in the batters box. These girls are called “Slappers”.

    If you look at the roster of the top softball college teams, in some cases MOST of the girls bat left and throw right.

    The slappers always bat lefty because they are closer to first base. With only 60 feet to first, a few hundredths of a second makes the difference between safe and out.

    The weirdest are the power slaps. Those are slaps that go into the outfield. So imagine something similar to a bunt into the outfield.

    • Replies: @MikeatMikedotMike
  69. @Steve Sailer

    Someone once figured out how low Molina’s batting average would have to be before he was less valuable to a team than an average catcher who hit like Gary Carter or even Johnny Bench.

    The result:

    Molina could have a NEGATIVE batting average and still be better than an average catcher who was a great hitter.

    Part of it is he converts an average of one ball into a strike every inning by the way he frames the pitches, compared to the average catcher. That is worth about 3 extra outs per game.

    So the average catcher would have to get on base 3 times a game on average more than Molina to be as valuable as Molina.

  70. @Paleo Liberal

    The slap rule was changed earlier this year. If the batter’s foot is in contact with the ground outside the batter’s box when contact with the ball is made, the batter is out. It happened yesterday in game one of the college softball WS.

  71. Slightly OT:

    I was just checking the baseball scores on, and noticed that the Washington Nationals have already completed a win this evening over the Tampa Bay Rays. The score was 4-2, and the game time was just 2:16.

    Max Scherzer was the winning pitcher for Washington, and went 8 innings with 13 Ks. Normally striking out that many batters takes a long time, so I looked closer: Scherzer threw only 99 pitches, 81 of them for strikes. He faced 28 batters, and threw only 17 balls in total. He also had an ‘immaculate inning’, i.e. striking out the side on 9 straight pitches.

    Someone in MLB management should look into cloning him.

  72. @The Last Real Calvinist

    Ah, Scherzer threw 18 balls, not 17. But still!

    • Replies: @gsjackson
  73. gsjackson says:
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    When the Nats signed him I wouldn’t have thought of him as being on a HOF track. Now the only question is first ballot or not.

    Almost all of these Boras clients perform up to the contract’s value, and I think it’s because he has a scouting operation on a par with MLB teams. I chatted with a Boras scout at a college game back in the ’90s, and it sounded like he was really getting quality people with good eyes for talent.

  74. @gsjackson

    When the Nats signed him I wouldn’t have thought of him as being on a HOF track. Now the only question is first ballot or not.

    If Scherzer gets to 220 wins or so, he’ll be in on the first ballot. He’s already got some incredible career highlights.

    He seems to be right in his prime at the moment. His career reminds me a bit of Randy Johnson, who also had the filthy stuff he didn’t gain complete mastery over until he was in his late 20s. Hopefully Scherzer has many good years to go; I love his pitching style.

    • Replies: @Brutusale
  75. Brutusale says:

    Pretty good. I’d be even more impressed if I weren’t a season ticket holder watching Pedro Martinez have 4 seasons (3 Cy Young Awards and a 2nd place in 1998) where he stuck out 1,153 and walked 203.

    His 1999 season, with 313 Ks and 37 BBs, was otherworldly.

  76. Brutusale says:
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    His last 4 years are his best for ERA and BB/IP. He’s one of those guys, barring injury, that could be dominant for another 8 years.

  77. Lot says:

    No idea about the names, but Navajo have the largest reservation by population and are so remote there are not many non-indians to mix with. They also have a relatively large share of Eskimo type ancestry and kind of look like darker skinned Koreans.

    When they tan their skin gets a reddish look that makes them look less Asian.

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