Pitch framing entails making a pitch close to the area of the borderline look like a strike when it might not be. If a catcher can effectively frame, it can be useful to a pitcher that is located at the plate’s corners.
Framing is a precise art and getting it right is not easy. To correctly frame a pitch, it is important to practice regularly and effectively through drills and practice sessions.
Framing a pitch is to subtly move the wrist so that the ball drags in the direction of the strike area. The small movement happens at the moment that the player catches the ball.
The movement of the wrist must remain slight or subtle. Umpires are eagle-eyed and will spot any movement that is not so subtle.
Never attempt to frame a pitch more than a small movement of your wrist, or a few inches or the umpire will likely call you out. Keep the movement smooth and avoid any jerking motions.
If you are trying to frame a pitch that is in the zone, catch the ball normally in an overhand movement and then subtly move it toward your chest in a movement that is upwards and back.
Make sure to use your whole arm in the movement rather than just your wrist and ensure to avoid flicking your wrist upwards. Don’t try to frame a low pitch by catching the ball underhand either.
If you try to frame a low pitch by catching underhand, the umpire will likely see that the ball crossed the plate too low for it to be named a strike.
Ideally, it shouldn’t matter how you catch a pitch, rather just where it crosses the strike zone. However, always try to catch a low pitch with an overhand movement.
What is Pitch Framing?
Pitch framing is a movement that gives the appearance to the umpire that a ball really crossed the plate or a ball just missed the plate. The umpire may believe that the pitcher has excellent control, which might alter his calls in the game.
Framing a Pitch: How Do You Do It?
When you are framing a pitch, make sure to give the umpire a direct view of exactly how you caught the ball. Make sure you catch the ball in front of you with your elbow slightly bent.
Catching the ball close to you, it doesn’t make a difference what you do with the mitt as the umpire won’t be able to see it. As soon as you have caught the baseball, move your hand and mitt closer toward the middle of the plate.
If you are calling for a pitch on the outer side of the plate, ensure you position yourself in that same direction. This will ensure that you have a target on the outer side of the plate without you having to try to reach for it.
This setup makes sure that you are in a good position to try to frame a pitch.
When you are catching the ball and trying to frame a pitch, make sure to try and sway your body with your mitt. If you sway your body slightly, you will lessen the amount of hand movement needed to catch the baseball.
If you position yourself on the outer side of the plate and sway your body slightly so that you give the illusion that the pitch that was slightly off the place was actually thrown directly at the target.
3. Create an Illusion
You are trying to convince the umpire that a pitch was a strike by creating an illusion. If your glove is in a vertical position, move slightly to the left when you catch the ball and twist your hand in the direction of the middle of the plate.
If you can catch the baseball in the outer side of your mitt, turning the mitt can give the illusion to the umpire that the pitch actually crossed the corner of the plate.
If you use this movement, hold your mitt for a few seconds to give the umpire a clear view of it. Often, beginner catchers try to alter your whole arm in the direction of the middle of the plate.
Make sure to remember you are trying to create an impression or illusion rather than trying to trick the umpire. A trick might work a few times, but an illusion is likely to work more often.
4. Frame the Pitch with Your Body and Arm
If the pitch is a bit more inside the plate, try to frame the pitch with your hand and your body. As the ball is coming toward you, sway your chest toward it.
This movement will make the pitch look like it was near to the plate than if you were to just reach your hand out and catch it. This can help to prevent a strike from being named a ball if you are positioned outside and the ball comes through the corner.
If you set yourself up in the middle of the plate and don’t sway toward the pitch but rather reach for the ball with your arm, as the baseball is caught your glove will still be off the plate, even with a lot of arm movement.
However, if you set yourself up slightly inside, and sway your body slightly when the pitch comes in, the movement is less obvious. Once you have caught the ball, sway slightly back and turn your wrist to frame the pitch that is inside the plate.
With a smooth and less obvious movement, you will give the illusion that the pitch missed slightly, increasing your chance of a call later on in the game.
Avoid swaying for pitches that are far from the plate. Remember that you are trying to give the illusion that the pitcher has high control of the ball. The less movement you make with your glove, the better illusion you will give.
However, make sure that your movements never become too drastic or obvious. Ensure that you remain balanced when you are positioned behind the plate.
5. Almost Outside
Apart from when you are positioning yourself slightly outside the plate, you need to try to catch the baseball with a backhand movement. When you are reaching your hand across and backhand, catch the ball and turn your mitt in the direction of the middle of the plate.
Catch the baseball and bring it towards your body whilst framing the pitch. Keep the whole movement subtle and smooth to give the illusion of a pitch.
If you set up in the position outside of the plate and slightly sway your body, you might be able to catch the baseball without needing to reach for it. This will give the illusion that the baseball is nearer to the plate than if you had to reach for it.
Remember that the main thing is always to properly catch the ball, so don’t try to be too careful, especially if the runner is at a base.
If the ball is further outside, you can use the same swaying movement to frame the pitch. If you set up your position in the middle of the plate but reach for the ball without swaying, the movement would be too obvious.
Rather, if you position slightly outside, and sway when the pitch comes toward you, the movement is more subtle. Once you have caught the ball begin to subtly sway your body back toward the plate.
7. High Pitches
High pitches can often be hard to frame because the umpire has an excellent position to view the ball as it comes towards them. Thus, it is important to keep the movement of your hand as subtle as possible when framing it.
You want to avoid the umpire seeing that you drop your arm slightly once you have caught the ball. While this may not result in the pitch being named a strike, you want to give the illusion that you have kept your mitt at the position that you caught the ball.
This movement will likely aid your team later in the game with other bordering pitches. When framing a high pitch, twist your mitt forward, dropping your hand down when you catch the ball.
8. Low Pitches
Low pitches are also hard to frame because the umpire will not always have a view of the position of your mitt. When trying to frame low pitches, it is more important to focus on catching your ball rather than how you frame it once you have caught it.
Whenever you have caught the ball when your hand is pointing toward the ground, you are giving the illusion that the pitch was low. While this cannot always be prevented, if it is slightly low, attempt to catch it with your ball higher up from the ground.
If a pitch has already been named a strike, slightly twist your mitt in the direction of the center of the plate. Avoid moving your arm or making any obvious movements.
You are trying to frame this particular pitch so that the umpire doesn’t think the only time you twist your glove is for a ball. It is also a good idea to improve the chances of a ball through a corner being named a strike instead of a ball.
10. Move Around the Ball
When you are trying to frame a pitch, remember to always try to move around the ball. A good framing technique includes this movement. Get around the ball by catching the outer edge of the baseball and closing your glove toward the strike zone.
The outer edge of the baseball is the part of the ball that is the furthest away from the center of the strike zone. If you utilize this movement with framing, you will be able to make more strikes.
11. Avoid Any Obvious Balls
There is never any need to try to frame a pitch with an obvious ball. Simply catch it and throw it back toward the pitcher.
12. Avoid Calling Out the Umpire
While most umpires are very good at the job that they do, most make mistakes every now and again. They might miss a pitch sometimes that should have been named a strike.
Whenever you are trying to frame a pitch, it is a near strike anyway. Don’t call out the umpire if the call doesn’t go the way that you want it to by showing where you caught the ball in your mitt.
Shows like this will only cause more issues for you, rather than solving any. Other players may start to call out the umpire for failing to correctly call which may irritate the umpire.
Unduly irritating the umpire may result in fewer calls going your way as the game progresses. While the umpire should always remain unbiased, they are humans, and calls that he may have given you before may be named balls.
It is a better idea to deal with a close pitch by asking the umpire later whether where the pitch was. Calmly, tell the umpire that you thought the pitch was good.
Maintaining good rapport with the umpire is always a good idea during a game, to ensure things don’t go against you.
Is Pitch Framing Cheating?
Pitch framing is often regarded as “stealing” strikes. However, this is not the only reason to frame a pitch. According to the rules of baseball, framing a pitch is legal.
The umpire gets to decide as to whether a pitch is called a ball or a strike, and there is no reason for the catcher not to present the pitch in a way that makes a strike appear more likely.
The catcher has to catch the ball in his glove, however, the rules do not state how the ball should be caught. Thus, pitch framing is legal.