Over the next couple week Let's Go Tribe readers will be voting in a number of categories to determine some of the biggest moments and performances of the season for the Indians. Our winners will then have a chance at being nominated for league-wide SB Nation awards later this month.
Today we look at the very best defensive plays of the season. ...No, I'm not kidding, the Indians really did make some great plays out there, mixed in with all the bad ones you're thinking of. Honest.
Strike him out, throw him out
The Indians recorded a number of strike him out, throw him out double plays this season, which shouldn't be especially surprising, given that the Tribe set an MLB record for most strikeouts in a season, and Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez each have a very strong arm. Was the particular one of those double plays I've chosen here definitively better than any of the others? Maybe, maybe not. I like this one best though, because it came on a swinging strikeout, with a right-handed batter, and the runner (a fast one) being nailed at third base, all of which add to the degree of difficulty:
Out by a mile too.
This defensive alignment should work
Carlos Santana was pushed out from behind the plate in 2013 by the emergence of Yan Gomes. At the start of this year Santana spent a lot of time at third base while still catching once or twice a week, an experiment that did not go well. After he suffered a concussion in late May and landed on the DL, he was moved to first base, where he'd spent a bit of time in previous seasons. I thought he did pretty well there, solidly average, with a number of great plays, including this one:
A very nice grab and throw by Carlos, but what really makes the play is the fantastic tag by Gomes, who allowed the momentum of his body during the catch to spin him back around to the plate, rather than stopping and spinning back to his left, which is what I think most catchers would have done. Spinning to his left would have cost him valuable fractions of a second, which may have been the difference in getting the out.
Eat your heart out, Johnny Football
Mike Aviles did not do well in the outfield this season, but In mid July, after a solid running catch Aviles made a tremendous throw, one which traveled ~300 feet on the fly, landing right in the glove of Carlos Santana:
I bet Conor Gillaspie spent the rest of that week trying to figure out how a throw beat him there.
A great play in right field? Surely you're joking
The Indians started nine different players in right field this season. David Murphy handled most of the workload, while the other eight were a motley collection, none of whom posted an OPS better than .640 in their starts. Most of them couldn't play much defense either. Tyler Holt is very much excepted from that last comment though:
If Holt can't hit better than he did this season, I don't know that there's going to be room on the roster for him. It sure is fun watching a guy make plays like that though.
Hey man, nice bunt
Lonnie Chisenhall was a mixed bag this season. His bat was tremendous early on, then slowed down quite a lot. His defense was really rough early on, but go a bit better as the season went on. Near the end of the season he made a great play in Minnesota, laying out to grab a bunt in foul territory:
More like that in 2015, Lonnie.
A routine 7-2-4 triple play
It's not every day, or even every season that you see the Indians turn a triple play. The one below is only the 5th they've turned in the last 30 years. This particular triple play was not any sort of routine one either (to the extent that any triple play is routine). It started with a line drive by Adrian Gonzalez being snared by a running Michael Brantley in left field (the Tribe's first triple play to begin in left field since 1928), followed by a great throw home to nail the speedy Dee Gordon (who led MLB in stolen bases this season) at the plate for out number two. That seemed to be it, but then Yan Gomes noticed Yasiel Puig trying a delayed tag up from first base, and made a great throw of his own to Jason Kipnis, who applied the tag just before Puig could reach second base:
It's only the second 7-2-4 triple play in MLB history, and it was the best defensive play of the season, so far as I'm concerned.
What do you think?