Analysis of Catchers Catching Thieves
1958 to 2000

### By David Smith, Member of the Society for American Baseball Research and Creater and Chairman of Retrosheet

A few notes are in order and are included below.

1. The analysis considered the 1958-2000 seasons plus Roy Campanella's career, since Retrosheet has play by play data for all of his games.
2. Retrosheet does not have all games for all years. The record is complete from 1974-2000 for both leagues and 1963-2000 for the AL. At least 95% of all games were available for each season.
3. Only catchers who allowed 40 attempts per season were considered (except that all Campanella seasons were included). There were 1569 catcher-seasons meeting these criteria.
4. The top 10 catchers for 2000 are presented below in the first table. The team abbreviations should be self-explanatory. SB2 is the number of steals of second against this catcher, CS2 the number of runners he caught stealing; SB3 and CS3 are the corresponding numbers at third base. The first percentage (Pct) is the percentage of runners thrown out trying to steal second. The second percentage is the combination of action at second and third bases.
5. The 10 worst performances for 2000 are in the second table. The point is not to embarrass anyone, but to show the range for a single season. It should be noted that Mike Piazza's problems in 2000 are not typical for him since his career average is 21.6%.
6. The top 20 single season performances for the entire data set analyzed are presented next. The single line following that is the worst single season percentage of success, by Luis Pujols.
7. Only caught stealing initiated by the catcher were included. Since 1979 a runner can be charged with caught stealing on a pickoff from the pitcher if he tries to advance; rule 10.08(h)(2).
6. The next table contains career values, considering only those catchers allowing at least 100 attempts. There were 320 such catchers. The worst career performance follows that table.
7. The percentage of caught stealing has changed dramatically in the last 40 years. The final table gives the values for each fifth year from 1960 to 2000. The intervening years were omitted to make the table less cluttered; they are available upon request.

Conclusions:
1. Roy Campanella was extraordinary. He has the top three single season performances and five of the top six. In 1948 and 1952 he caught more than two thirds of the runners trying to steal second. The usual assumption is the "break even" point from a runner's point of view is 70% success (somewhat lower values are favored by some analysts). Campanella essentially reversed that figure. 2. The most recent single season performance better than Blanco's in 2000 was turned in by Bob Boone in 1982. All of the others are much older. When the changing league percentages are taken into account, Blanco's record last year becomes even more impressive.
3. Ivan Rodriguez is widely regarded as a great throwing catcher; he and Blanco are the only contemporary catchers on the career list below. However, Rodriguez does not have an individual season in the top 20. His best totals were marks of 53.2% and 52.8% in 1999 and 1997, respectively. 4. Benito Santiago is also frequently praised for his throwing abilities. His best single season was 165th on the list, with a value of 43.4% in 1994 and he is at position 164 on the career list with a mark of 30.2
5. The percentages presented here must be considered in the context of opportunities. For example (data not shown here), one effect of Santiago and Rodriguez has been that opposing runners attempt to steal much less often when they are behind the plate. It is necessary to balance the frequency of attempt with the percentage of success. That analysis is much more complicated and will not be presented here.

Analysis by David W Smith, January 27, 2001, from Retrosheet data.

Top 10 catchers for the 2000 season for percentage of runners thrown out by catcher while trying to steal second or third.

 Rank12345678910 CatcherHenry BlancoMike MathenyBrad AusmusAlberto CastilloMike LieberthalMark JohnsonWiki GonzalezBen MolinaMike RedmondEinar Diaz TeamMILSLNDETTORPHICHASDNANAFLOCLE SB224443718363439614030 CS233432614241522291610 SB34056846844 CS33342040456 Pct56.351.141.740.035.333.332.832.432.332.0

Bottom 10 catchers for the 2000 season for percentage of runners thrown out by catcher while trying to steal second or third.

 Rank10987654321 CatcherJavy LopezTodd HundleyRaul CasanovaJason VaritekEd TaubenseeTony EusebioGreg ZaunBrook FordyceScott HattebergMike Piazza TeamATLLANMILBOSCINHOUKCABALBOSNYM SB261673180423253484291 CS21716723107910814 SB38782485471219 CS30220113101 Pct19.819.618.818.118.017.817.416.712.912.0

Top 20 single seasons for percentage of runners thrown out by catcher while trying to steal second or third, based on total data set analyzed.

 Rank1234567891011121314151617181920 CatcherRoy CampanellaRoy CampanellaRoy CampanellaJoe AzcueRoy CampanellaRoy Campanella Ed BaileyThurman MunsonDick BertellJohn RoseboroJohn RoseboroSammy WhiteRoy CampanellaMike Ryan Bob BooneHenry BlancoEarl BatteyEllie RodriguezPaul CasanovaYogi Berra Year1951194819521966195019491959197119631964 1959195819531968198220001960197119701958 TeamBROBROBROCLEBRO BROCINNYACHNLANLANBOSBROPHICALMILWASMILWASNYA SB21591317191417 20241915151625432425261820 CS2292127252923 2831362722232029563333352324 SB302402122 302210244420 CS332335112 112144334321 Pct68.167.663.862.261.8 61.560.460.059.759.658.558.558.556.956.756.356.155.955.655.6

Worst single season for a catcher in the set analyzed

 CatcherLuis Pujols Year1983 TeamHOU SB241 CS22 SB32 CS30 Pct4.4

Career best for percentage of runners thrown out by catcher while trying to steal second or third. Seasons analyzed same as above. Minimum 100 attempts.

 Rank12345678910 CatcherRoy CampanellaLou BerberetClay DalrympleSammy WhiteJoe Azcue Ivan RodriguezJim FrenchHenry BlancoDel CrandallDick Bertell SB215850269612403528275152152 CS221753253522013057766124123 SB3214375234611111513 CS32452462535271312 Pct57.451.847.546.846.246.145.945.945.145.0

Worst career percentage.

 CatcherNed Yost SB2137 CS219 SB323 CS33 Pct12.1

Overall percentage of runners thrown out by catchers while trying to steal second or third. Every fifth year presented.

 Year196019651970197519801985199019952000 MLB Pct38.336.533.431.428.626.726.225.526.4