What is Caught Stealing in Baseball?

what is caught stealing in baseball

Last updated on July 7th, 2022 at 11:45 am

Today, baseball teams analyze a catcher’s catch stealing (CS) percentage as a measurement metric in run protection. The concept behind a catcher who throws out a high percentage of base stealers does two things. The first is that throwing out a runner adds an out in the inning and takes a baserunner off the diamond, which reduces an opponent’s scoring chances. Second, a high CS percentage catcher deters teams from running, so pitchers can focus on getting the hitter out instead of worrying about a potential stolen base.


What is a Caught Stealing in Major League Baseball?

Caught stealing in baseball occurs when a player tries to steal a base by running on a pitch but is ultimately tagged out before reaching the next base via a catcher’s throw. A caught stealing stat can take place at second base, third base, and home plate. However, a caught stealing can also occur at first base if the runner gets into a pickle between the second and first base on a stealing attempt.


What is the Formula for Baseball Caught Stealing?

what is the formula for baseball caught stealing

Caught Stealing / (Successful Stolen Base Attempts + Caught Stealing) * 1


The formula above takes the total caught stealing number and then divides it into the sum of successful stolen bases + caught stealing. For example, a catcher at the end of a season caught 20 players stealing but allowed 112 stolen bases. When you factor in the formula above, the catcher had a 15% caught stealing percentage, which is terrible.


Why is POP Time Important for Catchers?

why is pop time important for catchers

POP Time measures a catcher’s footwork, catching the pitcher’s throw, transferring the ball out of their glove, and their total arm strength when throwing to a base. A few factors determine the success rate of stealing a base, but POP Time is a factor catchers work on routinely to increase their chances of throwing out a base stealer. Speeding up the catch and throw to a base can improve a CS% for a catcher.


You can check out the complete POP Time exchange and arm strength blog post by MLB.com to the full breakdown.


Who Has the Best Caught Stealing Percentage in Baseball History?

As of 7-4-2021, Hall of Fame Roy Campanella has the best caught stealing percentage in their career at 57.40%. Roy’s best year via the caught stealing rate took place in 1951, where he had a 69% caught stealing percentage. Baseball-Reference has a list of hundreds of former and active catchers with their caught stealing percentage to check out. 


What is the Highest Caught Stealing Percentage in Recent Years?

Over the past ten years or so, from 2021, the best catchers via CS% fall in the 40% mark. However, Roberto Perez led American League baseball catchers in 2020 with a 71.4% CS%. Fans should remember that 2020 was a short season due to the pandemic and that the year before, Roberto Perez led AL baseball catchers with a 40.8 CS.


Who Owns the Most Caught Stealing Statistic?

Rickey Henderson, during his twenty-five-year career, was caught stealing 335 times. However, Ricky Henderson was able to swipe over fourteen hundred bases during his employment in baseball, so it makes up for the 335 times he was caught stealing. Ricky Henderson also owns the most stolen bases and caught stealings in baseball, so it’s a unique state line for the 2009 Hall of Fame inductee.


How is Caught Stealing Different from a Pickoff?

how is caught stealing different from a pickoff

Understanding how official scorers mark up baserunner stats can help track a baseball game on your scorecard. For example, any MLB player who breaks for a base and gets thrown out is caught stealing. A player who tries to dive back to a base and gets tagged out is out via the pickoff. The pitcher or catcher can cause a pickoff if they quickly throw to a base where the baserunner has a lead, for instance.


Who Records the Putout on a Caught Stealing Attempt?

The infielder on the field who catches the baseball and tags out the running trying to steal the base receives the putout credit. A catcher who throws the ball to the base gets the assist credit via the throw-out. Check out what is a putout in baseball blog for more details on how to measure this statistic. 


What Bases Can a Caught Stealing Take Place?

A baserunner can try and steal second base, third base, and home plate.


What Happens if there is Interference?

While rare, a dead play can occur if an umpire interferes with a catcher trying to throw out a base runner from stealing. For example, an umpire might accidentally interfere with a catcher if they fall on the catcher, make contact with the catcher throwing, or get tangled up via a wild pitch or passed ball at home plate.


Can There Be a Double Play via a Caught Stealing Attempt?

can there be a double play via a caught stealing attempt

The strike em out throw em out play represents a double play via a caught stealing attempt. The strike em out is if a hitter records the first or second out on a third strike call while the baserunner trying to steal a base records the second or third out. For example, a team might try a hit-and-run play to generate some offense, but the play can backfire if the hitter misses the ball and the runner can’t get to the next base safely during the same play.


Can a Baserunner Get Thrown out on a Wild Throw?

Yes, a baserunner can get thrown out on a steal via a wild throw or wild pitch. A wild throw can turn into a baserunner getting out if the baserunner tries to advance to the next base and gets thrown out. If the baserunner gets thrown out on a wild throw, the outfielder receives the putout credit. 



In summary, MLB teams and organizations value a catcher’s caught stealing metric to reduce run-scoring chances. A catcher who throws out a high percentage of potential base stealers can deter teams from running too . However, if your catcher gives up many stolen bases, it can split the focus from the pitcher as they have to think about a baserunner stealing and the hitter at home plate.


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