Seattle Mariners outfielder Dustin Ackley is hardly one of the best defensive players in baseball, but he made one of the best defensive plays of the year on Monday night when he robbed Travis d’Arnaud of a sure home run.
With the Mariners leading the New York Mets 4-1 in the sixth inning, d’Arnaud hit a shot to left field that looked like a home run right off the bat. The ball hung in the air for a while and Ackley was able to time his jump perfectly to bring it back over the wall. Oftentimes we will say a player robbed a homer when we aren’t certain that the ball would have actually cleared the wall, but there is no question Ackley saved a run.
The Boston Red Sox picked up a much-needed 5-4 win over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night. Had it not been for the incredible diving catch Jackie Bradley Jr. made in the second inning, Chicago may have ended up breaking the game open.
With one out, a man on second and the White Sox already leading 2-0, Chicago catcher Tyler Flowers hit a ball to right-centerfield that looked like it was going to find the gap for a double. That’s when Bradley Jr. did this:
Bradley Jr.’s catch was easily one of the best of the year, and he has made a handful of them. He’s hitting just .217 this season, so his Gold Glove-caliber defense has basically reserved his spot on the MLB roster. Catches like that remind us of why the Red Sox are keeping Bradley Jr. around.
Erick Aybar made possibly the defensive play of the night Friday when he made a slick barehanded play to rob Luis Sardinas of a hit.
Sardinas was leading off the top of the seventh and hit a slow grounder to short. Sardinas is pretty speedy, so Aybar had to charge the ball and get rid of it quickly for a chance to get the out. Even though the ball wasn’t hit too hard, it was still really deep and moving a lot faster than a bunt when Aybar fielded it, making his barehanded grab extremely impressive. When you couple that with his strong throw, it’s hard not to love that web gem.
The defensive metrics generally don’t rate Aybar too favorably, but I feel like he’s a very strong fielder with a lot of range. It’s just that he doesn’t make great plays like this on a daily basis … nobody can.
Brock Holt is typically a third baseman, but the youngster got the start in center field for the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night. Jonny Gomes is sure glad he was there.
Minnesota Twins infielder Brian Dozer hit a high popup to left field with two outs in the third inning, and Gomes lost it in the twilight sky. Sometimes it can be tough to see a ball against the skylight when the sun is going down. Fortunately for Gomes, Holt was tracking the ball the entire way from center field and made a fantastic diving catch on it.
As you can see, the ball ended up nowhere near where Gomes was standing. He completely lost it. Holt bailed both him and Jon Lester out and made one of the better defensive plays of the year in the process.
Yoenis Cespedes uncorked what may or may not end up being the best throw you will ever see in your life.
The Angels and A’s were tied at 1 in the bottom of the 8th inning with one out and a runner on first Tuesday night. Mike Trout sent a line drive to left for a hit, and Cespedes misplayed the ball. It bounced off his glove and rolled to the wall. Instead of running directly to the ball, Cespedes looked up to get a sense of where Howie Kendrick was on the bases. After seeing that Kendrick was heading home, Cespedes rushed over, picked up the ball, and launched a perfect strike to catcher Derek Norris, who tagged out Kendrick for the out to keep the game tied.
Once you factor everything in — that Cespedes made an error and recovered; that Kendrick was so close to home when Cespedes threw the ball; that Cespedes threw it home on a fly; that he threw it with incredible accuracy; that he threw it over Kendrick to get it to Norris; and that it maintained the tie game — you get a sense for how awesome it was.
The only thing I recall that is comparable was Bo Jackson hosing Harold Reynolds at the plate in 1989 at the Kingdome in Seattle:
That was so awesome. I seriously have a baseball boner from that throw.
Dexter Fowler turned on the jets to rob Trevor Plouffe of extra bases on Friday night with a sweet diving catch. The best part of the catch was how Fowler went sliding another 10 feet after making the grab. It was as if he landed on some slick grass turf out there. Either that, or the Twins have a Slip’N Slide buried in the outfield at Target Field.
If it weren’t for that play by Fowler, the Twins probably would have tied the game at 5 in the 8th inning because Kurt Suzuki and Eduardo Escobar hit back-to-back doubles to make it 5-4. Plouffe was leading off the inning and would have scored on Suzuki’s double. That’s why this was the reaction of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire to the catch:
Minnesota Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks recently decided to stop switch-hitting due to a lack of confidence from the left side of the plate.
Defense is an area Hicks can generally be counted on to help in, as the 24-year has made a few highlight worthy plays since becoming a regular in the Twins’ lineup, like this one yesterday against the Texas Rangers.
Hicks was at it again on Tuesday, this time racing away from home plate instead of coming toward it.
In the second inning, Hicks tracked down a drive to straight away center off the bat of Donnie Murphy and timed his leap to rob the Rangers designated hitter of a three-run home run.
As ESPN Stats & Info points out, Hicks is no stranger to bringing would-be home runs back into the ballpark.
The HR-robbing catch by Aaron Hicks was his 3rd in last 2 seasons. Only Carlos Gomez (6) has more in that span
David Freese was already struggling enough this season. He’s batting .198 with only two home runs. He needs every bit of help he can get. But the poor guy just can’t catch a break.
During the bottom of the seventh inning of the Angels-Royals game on Friday night, Freese punished a ball to deep center field that looked like it would leave the yard for a 3-run home run to put the Angels up 8-1. Instead, center fielder Lorenzo Cain went back and perfectly timed his jump to record the second out of the inning.
Yasiel Puig made one of the best catches you will see this year on Thursday to rob New York Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores of an extra-base hit. The Los Angeles Dodgers star got a great jump on a line drive to right field and went full extension to make an incredible play.
Puig practically defied physics, as it appeared the ball was by him when he made the grab. It looked like he had absolutely no chance of catching it when he went and did this.
After making the catch, the 23-year-old showed off his cannon for an arm by nearly doubling off Mets first baseman Lucas Duda at first base. That would have been too good to be true.
Despite some of the boneheaded mistakes Puig has made on and off the field, there’s no denying his incredible talent. He’s hitting .329 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI this season. Puig has been doing it all for the Dodgers.
The Cincinnati Reds defeated the Washington Nationals in 15 innings on Monday night thanks to some tremendous defense late in the game. The first — and perhaps the better — of two outstanding plays came in the bottom of the 12th inning when Brandon Phillips robbed Wilson Ramos of a base hit up the middle.
Phillips made a diving catch with two outs and runners on the corners. Had the ball gotten through, a run would have scored and the game would have been over.
A similar situation arose in the bottom of the 14th with a runner on third. Reds speedster Billy Hamilton got a great jump on a sinking line drive from Anthony Rendon and was able to make the play. That sent the game into the 15th, where the Reds took the lead and held on for a 4-3 victory.
We all love walk-off home runs and the drama they bring. But the way the Reds won on Monday is almost more impressive.