Catching the Wave: Fantasy Baseball Catchers for the Second Half of 2012

With the first half of the 2012 season behind us, we’ve seen a lot of disappointments, some surprises and a lot of surprises in regard to fantasy baseball. Let’s look at a few catchers that have caught the attention of fantasy owners in the first half and what we might expect for the rest of the season.

Carlos Santana (CLE)

The Indians catcher topped many pre-season lists at the position. However, he has woefully under-achieved so far this season. He has a much higher offensive potential than most catchers at the position and his blend of power and patience made him a nice pick coming into the season. With only 5 home runs in the first half, he’ll have to step it up a notch to start justifying his draft position. With at bats coming at first base and DH as well as behind the plate, he is a good bet to pile up the plate appearances (and potential for good counting stats). Expect a big second half.

Carlos Ruiz (PHI)

Sometimes you can predict a breakout season, sometimes they catch you by surprise. Very few (read: no one) expected Ruiz to be the best-hitting catcher in fantasy at the All Star break. We’ve come to expect a decent average from him since 2010 but the counting stats are a real bonus. With Chase Utley and Ryan Howard back in the Phillies line up, you should expect Ruiz to complete his career year. Add in the fact that he traditionally excels in the second half and Ruiz may very well hold onto the top spot among fantasy catchers in 2012.

Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)

The Brewers’ backstop was the best hitting catcher in the majors when he went down with a freak off-field injury at the end of May. He should be on a minor league rehab assignment by late July with an eye to return by the beginning of August. Continue to stash him and get him back in your line up when he returns. He has taken the next step in his career progression this season and is capable of adding some real value in fantasy.

J.P. Arencibia (TOR)

Arencibia has certainly become a consistent offensive player. Low batting average, lots of strikeouts and a home run every 5.2 games. There were some rumblings early in the season that rookie catching phenom Travis D’Arnaud may get the call up at some point this season and challenge Arencibia for playing time. However, with D’Arnaud likely out for the season with a serious knee injury, both playing time and consistent power can be expected from J.P. for the rest of 2012.

Kurt Suzuki (OAK)

Entering the year, Suzuki was a pretty consistent player who you could rely on for a mediocre batting average (around.250) but with decent, 15 home run ability and the chance to put up RBI when slotted into the middle of the order. With Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui gone in the off-season, Suzuki had a chance to get back into a run producing role with the Athletics. It hasn’t happened. He has been brutal offensively and has recently lost his starting job to rookie Derek Norris. Even though Norris has had his struggles at the plate recently, expect Suzuki to ride the pines for the majority of the second half. Avoid him.

Catcher is always a tough position for fantasy owners to fill effectively. The second half of 2012 shouldn’t be any different. But there are some players worth noting for sure. Good luck!

Why I Love Coaching Catchers

Are you buying youth catchers gear just because your young baseball or softball player wants some new catchers equipment? Here’s the attitude from a coach, someone who has been around the professional baseball catchers and the beginners alike. Make sure of why you are making a new purchase.

If you have a young man playing the position of catcher, you have a challenge on your hands. I can’t speak much for softball catchers, but I have been a baseball catcher and I have coached the position for several years. The young kids are my favorite players because they just don’t know what they want to be when they grow up.

Many of these young players want to play the position of catcher, but what I find incredibly interesting is why they really want to be a catcher. What makes them want to sweat behind the chest protector? Why do they want to don shin guards and the rest of the catchers gear? Nobody wants to suit up every day during the season and certainly nobody wants to work as hard as the position demands.

Why then do kids want to be a catcher?

I was a catcher all my life and I have been fortunate to have made my living playing baseball. I do not think I wanted to be a catcher. I mean that is not how I started, but when thrown into that role, I just found a home. i started to shine, but more important I became me. My role and all catchers position roles require leadership and when most kids want to hide behind the catchers gear, some have the burning desire to be leaders. Does your young baseball want to be a leader or is he just wanting to hide behind the catchers gear?

Many players start out hiding. The chest protector offers some sanctuary. The catchers mask can be a good resort, but add a catchers helmet and you have a full time tenant. Watch for the signs and work with the players when they are young. You may discover a gem among all the impostors and you may see that hiding may just turn into a temporary place to find themselves until a more opportune situation presents itself.

One issue with youth sports and catchers gear is the equipment. I know it is a pain and I also realize it is expensive, but pay attention to the fit. Make sure your catcher can do the job you require and is not out for a swim with catchers gear that has been handed down. Get the adjustments right so the chances of success are entirely reliant on the player and nor subject to your lack of attention as a coach and a parent.

I for one would never ask for the job of coaching the position of catcher. The #2 mark on the scorecard must do something to young men in that position. Maybe they want to be #1 so bad that they are volatile and ferocious and stubborn and just plain tough kids. Come to think of it, are not these all the traits we need as leaders, including those for all baseball catchers?

Youth Baseball Drills – Developing Catchers’ Skills

Catching is one of the most important positions in baseball defense. However, it is often the least coached. Because there is more to being a catcher than being able to catch the ball, these youth baseball drills were designed to help catchers develop the skills they need to succeed.

Crouching Drill

Catchers need to maintain a crouch position for at least nine innings, so it is important for their legs to be in shape. This drill will help catchers both stay in the crouch and move out of the crouch quickly.

Players should start by playing catch in while crouching. Next, have them walk around in the crouch position. Finally, have catchers work on their quickness and spring by jumping over home plate in the crouch position.

Framing Drill

This catchers’ drill helps players work on framing the pitch and developing their glove work. Framing is essential in the catching position because it can determine whether or not a pitch is called a strike.

Start the drill using tennis or safety balls so that the catcher can work without a glove. Pitch the balls all over the strike zone and have the catcher practice catching using a bent elbow, holding the ball so the umpire can see where it was caught. The catcher should follow the ball from the pitcher’s hand, catching it so that his thumb is pointed toward the pitcher. Eventually have the catcher run the drill with his glove, using a regular baseball.

Blocking Drill

This drill is designed to help catchers block pitches using their chest protectors. The Blocking Drill is great for young players who need to work on not being afraid of the ball and getting used to what their equipment can do.

Start the drill by bouncing balls off the catcher, having him keep his hands behind his back to get comfortable using the chest protector. Next, have the catcher work on blocking pitches in the dirt by using his glove positioned down between his legs. The catcher should practice performing the block, quickly getting to his feet, and scooping up the ball.

Pop-Up Drill

For this youth baseball drill, catchers will work on proper technique for catching pop-ups while wearing their full gear.

Hit pop-ups for the player to catch using a fungo bat. The catcher should follow these steps when catching a pop-up:

  • Quickly get up from the crouch
  • Locate the ball in the air and determine where it will land, keeping in mind that it will probably drift toward the infield
  • Throw the mask away, making sure it won’t be underfoot
  • Move toward the ball and make the catch