The catcher is one of the most important positions on the baseball field. He throws runners out, turns balls into strikes through framing, and is a wall behind the plate. The catcher calls plays for the rest of the defense and has to have the trust and confidence of the pitcher for him to execute a high quality pitch.
A catcher who cannot receive the ball well is a liability on the field. Many times, the difference between the umpire calling a borderline pitch a ball or strike is based off how well the catcher caught the ball. Runners, if they see that the catcher’s skills are lacking, will take advantage of this and steal. Making mistakes as the catcher also lead to tension and frustration in the pitcher, both of which are the enemy of velocity and command.
Skills notwithstanding, what a catcher first needs to play well is a high-quality catcher’s mitt (or glove). Much like any other position in baseball, a good glove or mitt is needed to ensure high quality play. It is important as well to find a mitt that feels comfortable. Several factors, such as the brand, webbing, and mold heavily play into the feel of the mitt. A bad glove can cost a game, especially as the catcher. They receive the ball on nearly every single pitch, and the catcher’s ability to both catch and get the ball out of the glove in a perfunctory manner are paramount.
A catcher’s mitt is called a mitt and not a glove because it does not have individual fingers present within the design like an infielder’s glove would. Catcher’s mitts are round in design, unlike other gloves. This is to give the pitcher a better target to throw at. The mitt also has a very large pocket to help funnel the ball into a consistent place. This is especially helpful when fastballs reach 90 mph or higher and the footspeed of stealing runners increases.
Below are some of the top catcher’s mitts currently available:
This mitt is very good for all ages. It is particularly well-suited towards those newly learning to catch. This is because of its slightly larger size when compared to other catcher’s mitts. Measuring at 32.5 inches, the increased volume allows for a slightly increased margin of error when catching a pitch or throw from the outfield. Mizuno also installed additional padding into the palm to increase protection for the catcher’s hand. Mizuno also included its Power Close Technology which allows for the mitt to be closed easier when compared to other models. This is especially useful for younger catchers whose hands do not have as much strength as older catchers. The only issue is that the mitt does not possess as much longevity when compared to other catcher’s mitts. This is due to the quality of the leather of the mitt. However, the quality also allows the catcher to break it in more easily than other types of mitts. This is very useful for younger players who may need to buy and play immediately.
Wilson is one of the most well-respected names in baseball. All their equipment is very popular and of high quality. The Wilson A500 is no exception to this standard. The mitt measures at 32 inches, about average for catcher’s mitts. The leather is high-quality. This increases the longevity of the glove but also increases the amount of time needed to break it in. It can be a good glove for younger players to use and to learn how to properly take care of a mitt. Another draw for this glove is that it is modeled off of major league catcher’s mitts.
Akadema is a newer brand of glove that emerged in the previous few decades. Despite their newness to the glove market, the quality of their products is just as high as the bigger name brands like Wilson and Rawlings. The AGC98 is one of the best catcher’s mitts out there. The only thing it lacks when compared to other catcher’s mitts is a big name behind it, which in the long run and in terms of performance is entirely inconsequential. The mitt measures 32 inches around and has a very deep pocket. The leather is a perfect blend of strength and flexibility, allowing for both longevity and a rather short period of time needed to break the mitt in.
Rawlings is possibly the biggest name when it comes to gloves. It stands to reason that their catcher’s mitts would be of high quality. The Rawlings Renegade Series does not disappoint. It measures 31.5 inches and is of extremely high quality. The tough leather makes it slightly more difficult to break in, but once it does, it is incredibly flexible and responsive while retaining its strength and durability.
Under Armour is very new to the baseball scene, even when compared to Akadema. Their recent arrival on the market does not allude to a bad mitt, however. The leather is fairly durable and easy to break in. The style of the mitt is one of the big draws, as it takes a rather unorthodox shape that is quite distinctive when compared to other catcher’s mitts. The gloves measures at a massive 33.5 inches around and is perfect for the young baseball player first starting out in catching.
There are a wide variety of Catcher’s gloves available. You can check out some of the top rated ones available here.