Pop time is one of the most common things I'm asked about by kids and parents. The questions are always about how to get a stronger arm.. which is a key ingredient but not the only thing that matters. The ability for a catcher to quickly unload the baseball with a strong, accurate throw is something that can change a game. Guys like Yadi, Posey, Perez, Sanchez, are some of the best and those guys have the ability to help their team win ball games because they can shut down the running game. If you want to be an elite throwing catcher, these are the ingredients to that recipe:
- Good time to the plate from the pitcher. This drives me nuts when pitchers are unable to vary looks and times to the plate. Ideally if a pitcher can give you a 1.35 or below.. you should have a good chance to throw that runner out.
- Good time to release by the catcher. A good time here is roughly 0.7 seconds. MLB average ranges from 0.64 - 0.88. The best times come in just below 0.6 seconds.
- Arm Strength. Here’s the part that everyone loves to talk about.. velocities between 76-81 MPH are the average for MLB catchers. Doesn’t sound that impressive huh? However, the one factor that shows a spike in caught stealing is 82 MPH with the best velocities in 2016 getting up to 89.3 (Padres - Bethancourt). Ball flight times (the time it takes for the ball to travel from the catchers release to the glove at second base) in the MLB showed an average of 1.24 on runners caught stealing and 1.26 on successful stolen base attempts.
- Accuracy. This goes without explanation in my opinion.. there isn’t much room at all for error here. I think of the best guys as snipers. Extremely quick and accurate.. without putting the ball right around the bag, you give your infielder no chance to make a tag.