Anthony Rizzo's Amazing Catch Topped the List on a Night Full of Great Grabs
There were 16 games yesterday, giving us plenty of chances to see some amazing defensive plays, and Tuesday's slate did not disappoint.
Leading things off was this play Anthony Rizzo made on a pop up hit behind first base and in foul territory.
Rizzo is unreal ðŸ˜³ https://t.co/2jVCl7udxT
â€” Kent (@RealKentMurphy) August 17, 2016
That's one heck of a catch. Rizzo's ability to jump on the wall, maintain his balance without losing sight of the ball, make the catch and not fall awkwardly into the stands makes for one of the more impressive catches on the year.
While Rizzo has made more noise with his bat than his glove -- he owns the sixth-best wOBA (.404) -- he's also been one of the better defensive first baseman this season. Rizzo has a 5.0 UZR/150, which ranks fifth among qualified first baseman, despite this total being the second-worst (so far) of his big league career.
If Tuesday night's catch looks familiar, it's because he made an equally as impressive catch almost exactly a year ago.
... and no this isn't a replay of last year. https://t.co/AZsQN6RyCl
â€” Baseball Essential (@BB_Essential) August 17, 2016
Per Kenny Ducey of Sports Illustrated, this catch happened on August 12, 2015 also against the Brewers and with Jason Hammel on the mound. Rizzo's latest grab came just four days before the one-year anniversary of the "tarp catch." Baseball is weird.
Moving around the diamond, we saw two incredible catches from second baseman on Tuesday night. First up is Dustin Pedroia.
Orioles ain't getting a hit on Dustin Pedroia's watch. https://t.co/HcgCKfuhJY
â€” Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) August 17, 2016
This catch helped maintain a no-hitter for Eduardo Rodriguez, who ended up exiting the game in the fifth inning because of tightness in his hamstring. Pedroia's brilliant grab shouldn't come as a surprise, as he's been the best fielding second baseman from 2007 -- his first full season -- through this season judging by UZR/150. This year is no different for Pedroia, whose 14.4 UZR/150 ranks first among qualified second baseman.
The player who is currently eighth on that list, Ian Kinsler, also made a nice catch on Tuesday night.
Ian Kinsler moonlighting as an outfielder. https://t.co/8Lt1vRyU0G pic.twitter.com/dc4jHn3WrS
â€” MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) August 17, 2016
It could be argued that Kinsler had the tougher play to make, since pop-ups are difficult to catch, according to a study conducted by people much smarter than me. Regardless, the numbers for this season -- and for Kinsler's career -- show that Pedroia has been the better fielder.
However, based on counting statistics (home runs, runs scored, RBI's and stolen bases), Kinsler blows Pedroia out of the water for their respective careers, although the advanced stats (wOBA, wRC+), both still favor Pedroia. It's close battle this season, as Kinsler is trailing Pedroia in wOBA (.354 to .357) but has the edge in wRC+ (121 to 120) and fWAR (4.3 to 3.8), per FanGraphs.
The last two catches both come from guys playing left field. Let's start with Jurickson Profar, a guy who has spent at least 63 2/3 innings at each infield position this season, as well as 56 innings in left field after last night's contest. The infielder looked pretty comfortable out there with this grab.
First-step quickness and closing speed. https://t.co/7wn2wQeodZ https://t.co/XgypNHWucS #Statcast
â€” #Statcast (@statcast) August 17, 2016
According to Statcast, Profar's first step took 0.27 seconds, he reached a maximum speed of 17.8 miles per hour and covered a distance of 54.2 feet, which makes for a 93.0% route efficiency. Just 56 innings in left field is way too small to read into for defensive purposes, but for the sake of evaluating his performance there so far, he's held his own. His 35.5 UZR/150 ranks fourth-best among left fielders with at least 50 innings played.
Profar will need to keep flashing the leather if he wants to stay in the lineup, since he's hitting just .181/.277/.253 with a .245 wOBA in 95 plate appearances in the second half.
Our next catch in left field comes via Corey Dickerson.
Kept two feet in bounds.
That's a pro catch, @MCoreyDickerson. #RaysUp pic.twitter.com/qZwFNatH6Y
â€” Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 17, 2016
He had much more ground to cover than Profar, but it didn't stop him from making an excellent grab. Again via Statcast, Dickerson's first step took 0.20 seconds, he reached a maximum speed of 17.7 miles per hour and covered a distance of 91.4 feet for a route efficiency of a sparkling 96.6%.
This catch was uncharacteristic of Dickerson's overall defensive prowess for his career, as he has never posted a positive UZR/150 at a position where he spent more than 100 innings in a single season. His 17.8 UZR/150 this season in left field -- in just 320 innings played -- is on pace to break this streak.
He's having a down year at the plate, however, posting just a .301 wOBA in 386 plate appearances. Dickerson posted a combined .390 wOBA during the 2014 and 2015 seasons with the Colorado Rockies (712 plate appearances).
Five amazing grabs in a variety of ways, but each impressive nonetheless.