Pro Perspective: Chris Snyder
- Arizona Diamondbacks, 2004 - 2010; Pittsburgh Pirates, 2010 - 2011; Houston Astros, 2012; Baltimore Orioles, 2013
Chris Snyder was born on February 12, 1981 in Houston, Texas.
He played High School ball at Spring Woods High School, and was drafted his senior year by the Seattle Mariners. However, he declined to sign and went on to play at the University of Houston.
His decision payed off. After three standout seasons at the University of Houston, Chris was signed by the reigning World Series champs, the Arizona Diamondbacks, in the second round of the 2002 draft. This time, he signed.
As a relatively seasoned college ballplayer, Chris only spent a short amount of time in the minors. While in the minors, he spent time with the Lancaster JetHawks and El Paso Diablos, and he also spent time in the Arizona Fall League.
With the Diamondbacks
Chris made his big league debut on August 21, 2004 in a home game against the Cincinnati Reds. In his debut he went two for three with a double in a 2 – 1 win for the Diamondbacks.
Chris became Arizona’s starting catcher for the 2005 season. Although his offensive numbers were below average, his defense really stood out.
He continued as one of the mainstays behind the dish for the Diamondbacks through the 2010 season. During this time Chris earned a reputation as one of the best defensive catchers in the MLB.
His offensive numbers improved with time, as he hit .252 with 13 homers in 2007, and smashed 16 home runs the next season.
At the trade deadline in the 2010 season, Chris was involved in a multi-player trade to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He spent parts of the 2010 and 2011 seasons in Pittsburgh, where he maintained a near perfect fielding percentage over 74 games.
In 2012 Chris signed with his hometown Houston Astros. He appeared in 76 games with the Astros, splitting time behind the plate with Jason Castro and Carlos Corporan.
When his option wasn’t picked up, Chris signed a minor league deal with the Nationals and then the Angels in early 2013.
He eventually landed in Baltimore, spending time in the minors and with the big league club that season. Chris appeared in only 9 games for the Orioles in 2013, which would be his final season in the majors.
Chris Snyder’s Mark on the Game
Despite having a career .224 batting average, Chris collected 77 home runs over his big league career and 298 RBIs.
Yet it wasn’t his offense that earned him his reputation as a catcher, but his defense.
Chris Snyder had one of the finest defensive careers of any catcher in MLB history. He has the highest career average for Fielding Percentage among catchers all time, with a .9976% average. (source)
He also owns 4,565 putouts and gunned down 144 would be base runners (29% CS%) during his career.
Q&A with Chris
Chris is a former big league catcher with over 5,600 innings of MLB playing time under his belt. He has played on teams with many MLB all stars - names like Randy Johnson, Andrew McCutchen and Manny Machado.
I wrote to Chris a few months ago wanting his feedback on my questions for pro catchers. He graciously responded to my questions, as seen in the image below.
Like others in the Pro Perspective series, I wanted to share Chris’ responses with readers in the hope that his input will help catchers who are interested in improving their game.
Here are Chris’ responses to my questions, as you will also notice in the image below.
Question 1: What is your favorite memory from playing in the major leagues?
Answer: Walking into the dugout my 1st game and realizing it was “for real”.
Question 2: What do you think is the most important skill that a catcher should have?
Answer: Leadership. That is the most important skill/role a catcher can have.
Question 3: If you could give only one piece of advice to young catchers hoping to play professionally, what would it be?
Answer: Always study and learn the game, no matter what level you’re at. Pay attention to your pitchers and how they like to work.
The importance of leadership is a common comment I hear from pro catchers. You can only rise so far in the game with good “hard skills” – you must also learn to lead, motivate, and direct.
That also relates to knowing your pitchers well so that you can work effectively with them.
In short, catchers should be students of the game and not afraid to lead, as great leadership is often a key quality of catchers that stick around for a long time in the major leagues.
Thanks for Reading
We have a few more Pro Perspectives ready to share, and we will continue posting them to the site in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more!