The Two Joses | The Process Report

The Two Joses

Catcher is the second-most interesting position on the diamond for no fewer than two reasons: the responsibilities and individuality involved. Each catcher has a lot on his plate, and a different way of presenting those tasks. The Rays might have two backstops, in Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton, with some obvious similarities—both are named Jose, angle their bodies to improve the umpire’s sightline, and drop to one knee on occasion—but there are noticeable differences as well.

One obvious difference is physical: The two having varying throwing motions. Catchers are trained to take a straight line toward second base on throw attempts, but Molina deviates from the instruction and the line. Take these two instances. Whereas Lobaton resembles a normal catcher, Molina shifts his momentum toward his left by moving both legs in that direction. This isn’t a Rays thing, nor a family thing—Yadier and Bengie are closer to normal—but it is something Molina has employed for years while maintaining better-than-average pop times and caught stealing rates.

The other observable difference has less to do with the position’s physical nature and more to do with the mental aspects. At least on the field, Molina has a larger presence with the pitching staff. His actions during Chris Archer’s first start and his injury-shorted appearance in Arizona remain fresh to anyone who saw the games. In both instances Molina’s experience came in handy. Predictably, Lobaton comes up short by comparison. Last Thursday Lobaton watched Fernando Rodney buzz a batter’s tower and hit the backstop, yet never came to the mound. It’s not hard to envision Molina making a signal for Rodney to calm down, or sidling out to the mound to take matters in his own hands.

This is not to crush Lobaton; though mound visits are unquantifiable, they seem unlikely to carry a huge value in the scheme of things. Besides, Lobaton, if he is bad at mound talk, could help his pitchers by remaining behind the plate. Each catcher has his own style, and that’s part of why the position is so interesting.

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