For the first eight years of my organized baseball career — from the minor Little Leagues through sophomore year of high school — I was a catcher. And I loved it. And I was good at it.
But I wasn’t better than Sonny Nictakis, who was a year older than me and would eventually go on to play for Boston College after being scouted by multiple Division I programs, so when I was 16 the high school varsity coach made me switch positions.
I became a bad outfielder. In college I converted to the infield and became a bad first baseman. The point is that catching was the one position I was actually good at in the field, but the vagaries of fate stripped me of my beloved chest protector.
I suppose it’s a good thing I wasn’t better than Sonny Nictakis, because even if I been good enough to work my way into the professional ranks, my height would have been an impediment. That’s according to Tim Marchman in the Wall Street Journal, who says tall catchers are among the five worst ideas in baseball:
Just 11 catchers listed at 6-foot-4 or taller have ever had at least 2,000 plate appearances in the modern major leagues. Among them, only Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins, a two-time batting champion, has been a truly exceptional player — at least, when he’s healthy. Mr. Mauer is currently out of the lineup with a back injury. The idea that catchers shouldn’t be too tall is the rare concept that has the scouts and the statisticians nodding their heads in agreement.
This is bad news for the Baltimore Orioles, he says, who are hell bent on ruining top prospect Matt Wieters by allowing him to remain behind the plate:
Their top pick in the 2007 draft was catcher Matt Wieters, who’s listed at 6-foot-5 and hit .355 with 27 home runs in the minor leagues in his professional debut last year. Given the dearth of tall catchers of note, the Orioles could be tempting fate by leaving a potentially historic hitter at the position most likely to stunt his career.
Not to mention that the Orioles pitching staff is horrendous, meaning sometime soon Matt Wieters will be spending an average of 42 minutes an inning watching Jeremy Guthrie give up taters. Have you ever seen Jason Varitek after a bad Dice-K inning? He looks like a former coma patient learning to walk again.