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#pounditFriday, March 24, 2023

Braves outfielders made huge error on inside-the-park HR

Braves inside the park HR

The Atlanta Braves picked a very bad time to play some of their worst baseball in months in Saturday’s NLDS Game 4.

The Braves fell behind the Philadelphia Phillies early as they looked to stave off elimination while trailing 2-1 in the series. Already down 3-1 in the game, the Braves managed to allow Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto to score on an inside-the-park home run in the bottom of the third. The hit came with one out and nobody on, and gave Philadelphia another jolt of momentum.

How did the Braves let Realmuto, a catcher not known for elite speed, score rather easily on an inside-the-park home run in the fairly small dimensions of Citizens Bank Park? The answer is simple: multiple defensive mistakes on the play.

First, center fielder Michael Harris II decided to sell out and go for the catch instead of playing the carom off the center field wall. That backfired, as Harris did not get all that close to the ball, leaving him helpless as it deflected off the angled wall and away from him.

Making matters worse was the backup, or lack thereof, from right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. On a play like this one, the hope would be that the right fielder is at least prepared to cover for the center fielder if the ball hits off the wall and bounces away, as it did here. Acuna, however, is nowhere to be found. In full video of the play, Acuna can be seen holding his spot in right field, and he does not even try to pursue the ball until it hits the wall, by which point it is too late to matter.

In contrast, left fielder Eddie Rosario starts moving in the direction of center as soon as the ball is hit.

Could Acuna have prevented the inside-the-park homer even if he had done everything right? Maybe not, but better positioning and awareness might have been enough to hold Realmuto to a triple and give the team a chance to escape the inning without further damage. It should be noted that the outfielder has been playing through knee pain, which may have hindered him here, but if he is playing in the outfield he has to be expected to at least try to do more here.

While there have been some sparkling defensive plays in the postseason so far, there have also been some poor efforts. This falls into the latter category.


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