In case you haven’t seen it, MLB Network has now told us what the defensive play of the year is, and even used their new toy “StatCast” to prove it. But, no it is not the one you are thinking of. It’s this one.
Let me be clear, that is a very good catch, with a very good athletic play. I have watched Pillar’s catches on highlights, and I don’t even know if it is HIS best catch – the one leaping and going INTO the wall was better. Pillar is one heck of a defensive player, though I should point out we have a lot of great defensive outfielders in the game right now, which probably explains why he hasn’t won a Gold Glove. I am trying to remember, are there any other 3B who have won the GG in their first two years? Hmmm. Anyways. note that Pillar gets so high by using the fence to help him get higher and as it were stay there. Yes, it is a very good catch, but we really do see these all the time, every season. I am not sure it even is the best of those type of plays. I still prefer the one made by Pirates Brian Giles (back about a decade ago) and Travis Snider (not know for his great defense) in 2012.
Here is Snider’s
Here is Giles’s
We have actually seen a lot of these over the years. I still love the one by Gary Matthew’s Jr. from what seems like yesterday but was in fact 2006 (my 9 year old daughter was born that year, so I know it wasn’t yesterday):
Matthews did it right, parlaying that catch and his career year at the bat into a big fat contract that…was a total bust.
Anyways, did Pillar go over his head? Did he have to face any wind (Pillar’s is in the dome)? Did he have to face an object of unknown origin (the tarp vs. fence which every outfielder worth his salt figures out the issues with as soon as he gets into a new stadium)? Did he risk life and limb? Did he go into the stands? Did he have the baseball IQ to try and nail a tagging-up runner?
Here is a reminder of just how amazing that catch was (and pivotal in the game’s outcome, as is a homer). Hello MLB, Statcast this:
Look I get it, you guys don’t know the Mountain Time Zone exists (Except to fly in for a nice skiing vacation at Vail). I know that the Rockies are not on anyone’s radar. But this was against the defending World Series champs! Give the man some love! A number of other experts and such have put it in the 5 or so top catches in televised baseball history.
MLB Network, wake-up! You have some genuine superstars playing great ball out here in the Mountain Time Zone (see earlier post about forgetting Tulo-to-DJ double-play comb). No they aren’t wearing Mets, Yanks, or Red Sox jerseys (or even the Cubs or Dodgers), but if you want to make this game more popular to more people, give some love to guys who do this. But which 3B is all they can talk about the past two months is a very good prospect in Chicago who has yet to take a single Major League AB? Oh right, he is a Cub, so that matters.
Defensive play of the year? Really? Time to remove mlb network from my channel list….
**** UPDATE ***** For some reason I got the clip of another Snider catch, now updated with homerun stealing catch. Looks even better now that I watch it again and might be better than Giles…and better IMHO that Pillar.