Showing posts with label defensive gems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label defensive gems. Show all posts

Friday, October 4, 2013

Brett Lawrie's Top 10 Defensive Gems of 2013


Everyone loves the sheer power of a towering home run. Fans marvel at the blistering speed of runners on the basepaths. But defense? A slick glove doesn't seem to get quite the respect of the other five tools. 

Defense was not something that was particularly on display very often this year with the Toronto Blue Jays, with the exception of perhaps one player: Brett Lawrie. Although he dabbled at second base, Lawrie's skills were that of a natural third baseman.

Although injuries limited his play to 107 games played with the Blue Jays this year, his stellar work at the hot corner provided a year's worth of highlights. Here are the ten best defensive plays from 2013 by Brett Lawrie. 

10.) Lawrie's first game back (April 16th vs. Chicago White Sox)

Brett Lawrie spent the first few weeks of the season in the disabled list, but in his very first game of the 2013 campaign, he was already in mid-season form. This is just the first of many impressive bare-handed throws by Brett Lawrie on the list. 

9.) Incredible range at short (September 17th vs. New York Yankees)

From a defensive aspect, Brett Lawrie is everything anyone can ask for; he's agile, he covers lots of ground, and he has a heck of an arm. All three of those skills are on display in a single play by Lawrie.

8.) Dive near the mound (May 8th vs. Tampa Bay Rays)

Admittedly, the degree of difficulty on this play is ramped up unnecessarily due to some miscommunication between the pitcher and the infielders. But had it not been for the quick actions by Brett Lawrie, the Blue Jays may have been on the blooper reel for letting that ball drop by the mound.

7.) Lawrie's snag turns two (April 30th vs. Boston Red Sox)

In the early going of the season, the phrase "double play" is not one that was heard very often on the Blue Jays broadcast. However, in this instance Brett Lawrie's quick reflexes at third helped turn a phenomenal 5-4-3 double play. 

6.) Throw from grass in left field (April 24th vs. Baltimore Orioles)

How many third baseman do you know that can make a throw deep in the hole at third base, on the grass in left field, and make a strong, accurate throw from across the diamond? I present to thee, Brett Lawrie.

5.) Huge leaping catch at third (July 30th vs. Oakland Athletic)

Brett Lawrie's incredible range is one of the things that makes him such an amazing athlete. Here, Lawrie ranges to his left and just plain lays out to snag a liner and rob extra bases.

4.) Bare-handed deflection off Happ (April 22nd vs. Baltimore Orioles)

Stop me if you've heard this one before; Brett Lawrie makes an incredible barehanded throw. Brett really has perfected the art form. But this time, he's forced to change his direction mid-play as the ball bounces off J.A. Happ's glove beforehand.

3.) Amazing bare-handed throw (August 20th vs. New York Yankees)

One of the things that makes Brett Lawrie such an asset is he's often able to get to the ball where most third baseman would not be able to otherwise. Here, Brett comes in all the way from third base, and makes a strong bare-handed throw that was right on the money.

2.) Foul territory jump and throw (August 22nd vs. New York Yankees)

Two young players that will inevitably be linked together due to their position and defensive prowess are Brett Lawrie and Manny Machado. Both guys made highlight reel catches and throws all season long.

Manny Machado pulled off what was quite possibly the best defensive gem of the year with a leaping throw from foul territory. This play was basically Brett Lawrie's answer as to whether or not he was one of the league's elite fielding third baseman.

While both plays were extremely impressive, I'm almost apt to say Lawrie's was a little more difficult because he made the throw mid-air with his momentum taking him in the opposite direction of the throw.

1.) The Matrix Throw (August 30th vs. Kansas City Royals)

Truth be told, the degree of difficulty on this play doesn't seem all that high. But the fact that Lawrie was able to time his leap, make the throw mid-air and still manage to nab the runner at first makes this one Brett Lawrie's best defensive play of the season.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

John McDonald's Top 10 Defensive Gems

During his time in Toronto, he was known as the human highlight reel. Every time John McDonald took the field, you knew you were in for one heck of a show.

It was always a treat to watch John McDonald in action, whether it was at third base, shortstop, or even second base. No matter what position he played on the infield, his defense was always impeccable.

So it seems only fitting to honour John McDonald by looking back as his Top 10 Defensive Gems. Unfortunately, the MLB footage only goes back as far as 2008, as there were a few other plays that stand out in my mind (namely his diving catch into foul ground from 2007).

Despite that, there were ample highlight reel plays to choose from. And as difficult as it was, I think I've compiled the 10 best defensive plays from John McDonald's career with the Blue Jays.

10.) June 29, 2008 vs. Atlanta Braves

In 2008, you'd be hard pressed to find a better defensive duo of the left infield than John McDonald and Scott Rolen. As the video demonstrates, even if one ever got past Rolen, Johnny Mac was there to pick up the slack.

9.) September 9, 2009 vs. Minnesota Twins

John McDonald is the definition of a "pitcher's best friend", and nobody can vouch for that more than Roy Halladay. In this play, McDonald demonstrates his range and throws from his knees to get the out at first base.

8.) August 28, 2008 vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Not every play that John McDonald was involved in was a thing of beauty, but he got the job done. Although he didn't have time to grab this one, Johnny Mac's glove did the work of fielding and throwing to get the force out.

7.) August 2, 2009 vs. Oakland A's

Again, we have another quintessential John McDonald flip play to the bag, but this one was even more impressive. The quickness in which he's able to get to the ball allows Aaron Hill to turn the double play. Bonus points!

6.) September 21, 2010 vs. Seattle Mariners

When a baseball comes screaming down the line, you better be ready to grab it. Johnny Mac reacts quickly and snags this liner down the third base line and robs a base hit and a run away from the Mariners.

5.) September 6, 2009 vs. Kansas City Royals

With Marco Scutaro and Aaron Hill handling most of the middle infield duties, John McDonald only played 73 games in 2009. But what time Johnny Mac did get there, he always made the most of his opportunities on the diamond.

4.) April 10, 2011 vs. Boston Red Sox

This one should still be fresh in everyone's mind; it was the ball in foul territory that John McDonald nearly overran, but at the least second made an adjustment and leapt to grab it in foul ground.

3.) April 21, 2010 vs. Kansas City Royals

With so many Johnny Mac patented scoops in the Top 10, I'm beginning to think John McDonald really enjoyed playing with those tiny plastic shovels in the sandbox as a child. Another timeless defensive gem here that we'll see on Blue Jays highlight reels for years.

2.) July 11, 2008 vs. New York Yankees

This one could just as easily been number one, but it was more of a team effort between Marco Scutaro and John McDonald. And you know it's a defensive gem when even Roy Halladay shows his admiration in the way of a subtle smile.

1.) August 26, 2009 vs. Tampa Bay Rays

The funny thing about this play is had John McDonald caught the line drive outright, it would not been as impressive. The fact he knocked the ball down mid-air, found it, and threw across the diamond from his knees in time makes it all that more dramatic and exciting to watch.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bautista Flashes Some Leather at the All-Star Game

Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures
He may not have dazzled with his bat, but Jose Bautista certainly wowed the crowd with his glove at the 2011 All-Star Game.

Bautista's incredible sliding catch in foul ground ranks up there as one of the best at the Midsummer Classic, as he nearly slid full tilt right into the wall. You can bet John Farrell was holding his breath as Jose charged for the the corner.

It was a pretty risky move what with the All-Star being a exhibition contest and all, but try telling that to Jose Bautista. The fans voted him into the game, and he was damn well going to put on a show for them.

I admire Bautista's determination to lay it all on the line when the game only really matter to the two teams will who be playing in the World Series. In my eyes, that's the sign of a true star.

However, Alex Anthopoulos must have been very worried for a moment about his $65 million dollar investment.

Essentially, Jose Bautista was the antithesis of Derek Jeter of the All-Star Game. The fans voted both men in as starters for the Midsummer Classic, and yet only one decided to show up.

Some are willing to give Derek Jeter a free pass because he just hit a major milestone and recently came off the DL, but I think it's a disservice to the fans to not at least make an effort to show up to the All-Star Game. He'd only have to stand out there for 1-2 innings anyway.

That's what makes Jose Bautista so refreshing; here's somebody who is participating in his second ever All-Star Game, and he's playing like it's Game Seven of the World Series.

While most of his accolades may be related to his offensive production, Jose Bautista proved with his glove at the All-Star Game why 7,454,753 votes were very well spent.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Afternoon Delight


Image courtesy of Daylife
Okay, so maybe it wasn't an "afternoon delight" of sorts, but I was already committed to using that title whether the Blue Jays won or not.

It was nearly a self-fulfilling prophecy, hadn't it been for Alex Gordon's solo home run in the top of the tenth. I think our pals at 1 Blue Jays Way must not have been in the house this afternoon, otherwise Gordon would have left the batter's box in tears.

So it was the same story as usual with Shaun Marcum on the mound - another quality start, but nothing to show for it.  He started off with a rough first inning, but cruised for the most part for the rest of the afternoon.

Of course, the pitching received some help thanks to a couple of spectacular plays on the field. I didn't see them live, but after hearing the call on the radio, you definitely have to go back and check out these two defensive jems courtesy of Alex Gonzalez and John McDonald.

I guess it was also an impromptu Wayback Wednesday which featured the Blue Jays in their powder blue uniforms once again. Most notably, Cito Gaston brought back the old school blue jacket and I have to say, looking quite sharp circa 1990.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Your starting shortstop for 2010: John McDonald


So much for Plan A, Plan B, or even Plan C … it appears as though the Blue Jays will be resorting to Plan D at shortstop next year. Thanks to a reported one year deal worth approximately $1.5 million, John McDonald will return for one more season to wow fans with his defensive prowess at shortstop.

While the rumblings of this deal initally irked me, I fully understand the reasoning behind it. Instead of taking a chance right out of the gate with Mike McCoy or some other el-cheapo free agent signing, the club would rather have the stability (albeit his offensive shortcomings) of Johnny Mac stationed between second and third base.

Two months ago, I would have been livid to find out that the Blue Jays were giving the starting shortstop position to John McDonald. The reasoning behind my disdain in that decision was having Johnny Mac on the team didn't move this team forward, it merely kept it at status quo.

Now that Alex Anthopoulos has announced the Blue Jays are "building", I understand that this move is to keep John McDonald as a placeholder until somebody else comes along . Whether that happens via a position player in a trade involving Roy Halladay, or if it means somebody from Las Vegas gets called up remains to be seen.

If anything, at least Johnny Mac will distract us from the on-field product with some of his defensive gems scattered throughout the 162-game schedule.

In the meantime, I don't see what all the fuss is about over giving a deserving player like John McDonald a starting job he has coveted for so long. $1.5 million dollars is chump change for McDonald to play 120+ games next year.

After all, the Blue Jays will be paying B.J. let Ryan almost seven times that kind of money in 2010 to work on his tan and try some experimental hair restoration products.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Scott Rolen's Top 10 Defensive Gems

Even though he only spent a season and a half with the Toronto Blue Jays, Scott Rolen made a lasting impression with this team thanks to his constant dazzling plays on the third base side.

It's a shame that Rolen wasn't able to finish his tenure with the Blue Jays, but he will always be appreciated and remembered for his knack for timely hitting and incredible Gold Glove defense. As a tribute to the GBOAT, let's take a look at Scott Rolen's Top 10 Defensive Gems during his time with the Blue Jays.

10.) June 29th, 2008 vs. Atlanta Braves

With the Blue Jays protecting a slim 1-0 lead and a runner on, Rolen makes easy work of a short hop infield ball and gets the out.

9.) May 21st, 2008 vs. Los Angeles Angels

Occasionally, Scott Rolen didn't even need to rely on a glove to make the play. Rolen hustles and barehands an infield grounder to get his pitcher out of a jam.

8.) July 26th, 2009 vs. Tampa Bay Rays 

An ordinary man might be disoriented after spinning around, but Scott Rolen twists and makes the throw from his knees for another highlight reel play.

7.) June 25th, 2009 vs. Cincinnati Reds

It's rumoured that the Tomahawk cruise missiles were designed after the accuracy of Scott Rolen's throwing arm. In this defensive gem, Rolen tosses to Overbay from one knee and still makes the play.

6.) July 10th, 2008 vs. Baltimore Orioles

In this dazzler from 2008, Rolen dives over the third base line stealing extra bases away from Nick Markakis while throwing him out from his knees across the diamond.

5.) May 18th, 2009 vs. Chicago White Sox

Scott Rolen showed that he was deadly from his feet and his knees, reaching across the line and tossing this one-hopper to get the out.

4.) May 14th, 2009 vs. New York Yankees

Perfectly positioned on this play, Rolen tracks down this ball just inches above the ground to steal a double away from Alex Rodriguez.

3.) May 3rd, 2009 vs. Baltimore Orioles

At 6'4" and 240 pounds, Rolen displays he is one of the most agile "big men" of the infield as he leaps across the grass to snag this liner.

2.) June 24th, 2009 vs. Cincinnati Reds 

This is the infamous "climbing the ladder" play where Scott leapt to unreachable heights to pull down a line drive.

1.) July 18th, 2009 vs. Boston Red Sox

Although Rolen's position is third base, there is no territory that is unfamiliar to him on the field. With the defensive shift on, Rolen basically positioned at shortstop and makes the diving stab.
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