Then there wee five…
Nothing in the way of particular nominations from the electorate – rather more yelling back and forth about the DH or whatever. Thanks to those who did remain on topic! I did note the lack of any Nick Ahmed on my list. While the MLB Video Room can be a bit flaky on searches, only four Nick Ahmed plays were tagged with “defense” all year, and three of them were pedestrian. That’s not what we’d expect from the Gold Glover. But, it would be very strange to have a Play of the Year selection which did NOT include him. So, as much out of tradition as anything else, I have included the best of those as a nominee. So, your final five candidates are:
7/30 Kole Calhoun diving catch
Why it impressed. Calhoun was brought in for his power – 33 HR as an Angel in 2019. But it’s safe to say his defense overall was a very pleasant surprise. That’s especially so for D-backs fans, who’ve seen their share of slugging donkeys in the outfield. He may not have been the fastest player on the team (sprint speed slower than Stephen Vogt, actually!), but there was no doubting the effort and willingness to go all-out for an out.
8/1 Luke Weaver glove flip
Why it impressed. When your pitch to Corey Seager comes right back at you, it would be very easy to be distracted. But Weaver did an admirable job of keeping his cool. After the ball ricocheted off him over near the first-base line, many pitchers would have given up on the play. However, Luke followed up rapidly, and managed an accurate flip with the glove over to the first-baseman for the out.
8/16: Eduardo Escobar go-ahead three-run homer
Why it impressed. This was the clutchiest play of the 2020 season, and it wasn’t close. Worth +58% of Win Probability, no other play for the Diamondbacks surpassed even 45%. It was all the more impressive, considering that Escobar had been having a wretched season. Coming into the game, he was batting .167 with one home-run and just two extra-base hits in 20 games, for a .495 OPS.
9/8: Josh Rojas double play
Why it impressed. [Now with better video!] “I don’t think anybody quite knows what happened there.” So said Bob Brenly; it wasn’t until the second replay Steve Berthiaume realized what had happened. Simply stopping the ball from ricocheting off the side of the mound into center would have been impressive enough (102.4 mph EV, .490 xBA). Having the presence of mind to drag your foot over the bag for a double-play? Awesome.
9/12: Nick Ahmed over-the-shoulder catch
Why it impressed. The Mariners were already 5-0 up, in a rare bad start from Zac Gallen. With the bases loaded and one out, they were threatening to blow it open. A bloop to shallow left forced Ahmed to run towards the foul line to cover. He had to deal, not just with tracking down the ball, but avoid being distracted by a charging left-fielder. Even after making the catch, Ahmed had the presence of mind to turn and throw the ball into the infield with enough juice that none of the runners were able to advance.
The poll to decide the winner is below, or linked here. SnakePit usernames will be required, and there is no “vote by mail” option here. 🙂 Results will be announced on Sunday!