I often see catchers squatting down with their right foot dropped way behind the left...especially when a man is on base.
Many receivers feel this angled set-up gives them a head start on the throwing process, and favorably decreases their pop time.
Why This Doesn't Work
I'm personally not a big fan of this and here's why:
First of all, as catchers, we've got to get our priorities straight.
- Your number one job is to catch the ball.
- Your number two job is to block the ball.
- Throwing should probably be your third priority.
Setting up "side saddle" (right foot dropped back) makes receiving and blocking any pitch to the left a challenge because the right knee gets in the way and limits range.
And in reality, even though it feels like it'd be quicker, an off center set up won't favorably effect pop time.
What a Former Big League Catcher Suggests
I prefer to see a "square" set up. In other words, in the catcher's stance, a line drawn in the dirt connecting the big toes should run parallel to the line of the front of home plate.
This will give the pitcher a better target to throw to, increase your lateral range for blocking, and enhance receiving ability.
As a compromise, if you just have to drop the right leg back, I'm alright with the toes of the right foot lining up with the instep of the left foot.
Hip to Be Square
To me, a catcher with a square set-up understands his priorities (receiving-blocking-throwing...in that order) and gives up nothing in pop time.
Till next time, good luck, play hard, and keep your eye on the ball...
Brent Mayne is a 15-year veteran of the Major Leagues. He ranks 75th in the history of baseball with 1,143 pro games caught, and his .993 career fielding percentage is 4th all-time. Brent is the author of the book "The Art of Catching"--a comprehensive guide to teaching and building defensive catching skills.