Playing Out of Position. 1B at Catcher etc Topic

The defensive spectrum according to Bill James starting in the 1980s':

DH - 1B - LF - RF - 3B - CF - 2B - SS - C
  • The further to the left a player is, the better hitter he must be
  • The positions further to the right are more challenging defensively and a skilled player there can get by with a lighter bat
  • As players age they may move left across the spectrum. This obviously cannot apply Catcher to SS. It must start at SS>2B
  • Before the 1920s-30s, 2B and 3B were reversed. This changed as double-plays increased and 2B had more to do than throw the ball 70 feet or so to 1B
I just Googled and read several posts about Bill James and the defensive spectrum, which clarified the concept. I have a lingering question: A player moved from which position would make the best catcher? Or which position would be the least hamstrung at catcher? This might be difficult if not impossible to answer as catcher is a specialized position and it cannot be assumed that any other position can just fill in there. In real life it seems that old catchers who have moved to 1B or maybe 3B, return to catch.

If WIS has made an adjustment and there is one of the other position players who does move to catcher better . . .  which one is it? If there is no WIS answer, would we just follow real life and put a 1B or 3B there hoping they would do less damage?

Please don't post a link to old discussions about this topic. I've already tried to navigate them and they are too large and become overwhelming. If you have a current understanding developed from those posts or anywhere else, I'd like to hear it - in your own words.
thanks - bbcc

11/7/2011 12:44 AM
While I have no hard proof which would suffice to answer your question, but from my experience playing guys out of position at catcher, I've found that the better the fielder a player is at his listed positions, the fewer errors he makes at catcher, but he'll get stolen upon quite frequently.  However, if the guy is a bad fielder at his listed position, he will have a ton of errors as well as lots of passed balls.  As I noted, this only from my limited experience of playing guys at catcher who have no rating for catcher. But I'm sure someone much more knowledgeable on the subject than I will be more helpful.
11/7/2011 12:56 AM
Your reasoning sounds logical and matches my brief experience. I have played but one person there out of position and his better than average defense only created passed balls and few errors. Our examples are still anecdotal at this point. Thanks for checking in :-)
11/7/2011 1:33 AM
As I recall C is left off the defensive spectrum that WIS uses and have special mapping that admin has not revealed.  I also once read that in an unrated catcher's league '82 Ozzie Smith led the league with a 33% caught stealing but he also had the most passed balls.  Based on my limited experience (and what seems to make logical sense) I am guessing defensive studs at 3B would map best to catcher
11/7/2011 2:25 AM
I agree with mixtroy's thesis that the best defensive players would make the transition the most easily and, as zubinsum says, great defensive 3B would do best of all.  Chances are that's still not very good by WIS standards.

In RL, there is no position that converts particularly well to a catcher's specialized skills.  Third basemen need accurate rifle arms, but that is just one of the tools of a good catcher.  Intelligence, game knowledge and the ability to handle pitchers are specialized skills virtually unique to catchers (and theoretically coaches and managers) and, unlike the short, squat Yogi Berra types of the past, the physical prototype for today's best catchers (big and strong or big and rangy) isn't perfectly matched by any other particular position -- first base and pitcher probably come closest.

RL conversions to catcher from some other position are less common than from catcher to other positions but, at least anecdotally, it seems most common to convert third basemen and shortstops.  Lance Parrish was converted from 3B, Gary Carter from SS, Jorge Posada from 2B and SS, Victor Martinez from SS, Brandon Inge from SS, Russell Martin from 3B and Bob Boone (I think) from 3B.  I think Jason Kendall may also have started as a middle infielder.
11/7/2011 3:27 AM
The was a cloned player league a ways back, and most of us had non-catchers playing c......there was a TON of PB's & the CS% was barely there as well...I odn't remember seeing any correllation between the fielders position and C......but then again, you were cloning on of the 30 or so best hitters of all time, and werent too worried about your C stats....
11/7/2011 7:53 AM
I have played in some non-catcher leagues before, and the best catchers seem to be pretty random. Instinctively, would think it would be either SS (defensive spectrum) or 1B (best fielding percentage) but in reality I'm not sure it matters a ton.
11/7/2011 10:46 AM
OK, so this data is old (2008-2009) but probably not much has changed.

League #1

Ozzie Smith '82 0.046 4.47 1.09
Steve Garvey '75 0.041 4.94 1.26
Luke Appling '48 0.036 4.33 0.90
Rafael Furcal '00 0.035 4.64 1.07
Billy Sunday '90 0.031 4.31 1.07
George Bell '87 0.031 4.83 0.96
Brooks Robinson '75 0.030 5.52 1.31
Miguel Dilone '80 0.029 3.92 0.85
Charlie Comiskey '87 0.029 4.11 0.96
Leon Durham '85 0.028 4.39 0.81
Mike Lowell '06 0.027 4.70 1.19
Paul Molitor '85 0.025 4.52 1.01
Rafael Furcal '05 0.024 4.19 0.88
Harry Stovey '90 0.022 4.47 1.02
Cy Williams '23 0.021 3.59 0.76
George Kell '47 0.021 4.37 0.80
Tony Gwynn '87 0.021 4.77 1.03
Aaron Boone '98 0.019 4.35 0.87
Ozzie Smith '92 0.018 4.07 1.03
Dick Johnston '87 0.017 4.62 1.06
Craig Biggio '03 0.011 4.85 1.22
Kirk Gibson '84 0.010 4.11 1.04

11/7/2011 10:49 AM
Keep in mind, a lot of the steal prevention that you're seeing with these catchers actually has to do with the pitchers they're catching.

League #2

Name   CS%   SBA/Gm PB/GM
Ozzie Smith '87  0.043 5.90 1.06
Matt Williams '93  0.039 6.56 1.23
John Reilly '88  0.038 5.01 1.35
Joe Carter '87  0.038 6.51 1.26
Barry Larkin '95  0.037 6.44 1.01
Charlie Comiskey '87  0.036 6.86 1.35
Craig Biggio '92  0.035 5.96 1.07
Chone Figgins '07  0.033 6.46 1.04
Jerry Mumphrey '80  0.032 6.16 1.27
Chris B. Young '07  0.031 5.51 1.06
Ken Griffey Jr. '96  0.031 6.13 1.21
Barry Larkin '99  0.03 5.25 1.07
Bip Roberts '92  0.03 5.73 1.06
Ozzie Smith '82  0.029 5.40 1.01
Gary Sheffield '00  0.029 5.42 1.03
Bones Ely '94  0.029 6.30 1.06
Lenny Dykstra '93  0.027 7.03 0.99
David Segui '00  0.024 5.46 0.87
Steve Garvey '81  0.023 5.18 1.16
Rafael Furcal '00  0.023 6.62 1.02
Jerry Mumphrey '80  0.022 5.67 1.10
Chris B. Young '07  0.019 5.13 1.04
Mark Bellhorn '03  0.018 6.30 1.27
Pete Browning '87  0.015 5.73 1.30
Roger Cedeno '99  0.014 5.84 1.21

11/7/2011 10:50 AM
The most useful information I have comes from League #3, where everyone had to use clones of the same pitcher. So each team had all left-handed or all right-handed pitchers. Small sample size, I know, but lefties were a lot better at preventing steals.

LHP 3093 270 890 822 3.76 1.08 0.0873 6
RHP 10081 555 3308 2409 4.18 1.37 0.0551 16

11/7/2011 11:02 AM
I would say that it a a decent enough sample size to say that the sim does, somewhat true to life, make lefties harder to steal on.....incorporating some form of good (fake or not) pickoff move, to keep runners close.
11/7/2011 3:35 PM

Just wondering, but why would you want to do this?  For any other reason in games that do not matter. For resting your real catcher?

11/7/2011 5:13 PM (edited)
Clakumus, There is a theme league I was tempted by that mandates all players play out of position. I have just noticed however that the fellow who launched it has only played a couple of seasons. I don't know if it will ever go because he is so green and there are a couple of holes in his ad. I sent him a site mail suggesting he read biglenr's permanent post about new theme league creators - but I haven't heard back from him. It was a good idea that needs to be cleaned up little. It is in the $255 million brackets if you want to take a peek at it.

11/8/2011 12:08 AM
Yeah, mostly for theme leagues that don't allow catchers. Though sometimes I'll draft a starting catcher with 600ish PAs and not draft a backup, if it really makes sense for my team in some kind of restrictive theme league. You can use whoever to fill in those 5-6 games. 
11/8/2011 8:08 AM
Ok, I rarely play themes. I  play mostly open, they seem to fill much faster. Makes alot more sense now.
11/8/2011 10:09 AM
12 Next ▸
Playing Out of Position. 1B at Catcher etc Topic

Search Criteria

Terms of Use Customer Support Privacy Statement

© 1999-2016, Inc. All rights reserved. WhatIfSports is a trademark of, Inc. SimLeague, SimMatchup and iSimNow are trademarks or registered trademarks of Electronic Arts, Inc. Used under license. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.