Welcome to the 30th Purple Row edition (and 135th overall) of Tuesdays With Mitch, where we're in need of some good news. Let's get into it...
When MLB's Gold Glove winners are announced at 5 p.m. this evening on ESPN2, it is expected that Nolan Arenado will win his third Gold Glove in just three seasons. That's a remarkable achievement and will not come as a surprise to any of the baseball fans who have watched Arenado's work at the hot corner for the past three years.
(Update: He has, indeed, won his third Gold Glove.)
To commemorate this occasion, I wanted to look at some of my favorite defensive plays from Arenado. Originally, I planned on only embedding my four favorite defensive gems from Arenado (numbers 1-4 on this list) because I distinctly remember where I was for each one. But then, upon searching for the videos on MLB's vast YouTube collection, I quickly went down a rabbit hole of dives, sprints, and off-balance throws from the purple-clad kid with a 28 on his back. I bumped the list to the nine that I find most impressive, but could have included many more.
Because Arenado has more jaw-droppers than you can shake a stick at, these rankings are pretty informal. I won't argue with anybody about plays I might have missed or putting these in a different order. Off we go...
9. The "other" over-the-shoulder grab (July 30th, 2015)
I think over-the-shoulder catches are usually underrated because the highlight videos don't have the same flash as a dive, a strong throw, or a close play at first. But Arenado is tracking this ball on a dead sprint for about 30 yards. He doesn't let it twist him up, he calls off the left fielder, and snags it with ease to save a run. Not many third baseman pull that off. I probably should have ranked this higher.
8. The jump into the stands (May 25th, 2015)
One of the coolest things about watching Nolan play defense is his balls-to-the-wall, IDGAF style. That's on display here. It should also be noted he pulled this off in a road park, where's not really familiar with his surroundings. This one also makes for a great highlight when Nolan's body disappears and just the glove pops up, saying "Yeah, I caught that" at the 1:10 mark.
7. Young Nolan unveils his arm strength (May 18th, 2013)
Yes, the quick reflexes... Yes, the athletic dive... Yes, the scramble to his feet... But for me, this highlight is all about the arm strength. He gets up and launches a missile with an all-out, over-the-top arm angle from foul territory about fifteen feet behind third base.
6. Young Nolan unveils his barehand (May 9th, 2013)
Nothing to see here, just Nolan on a dead sprint, snagging a ball at his waist and throwing a bullet in one motion. This is art.
5. The spinning jump-throw (May 3rd, 2014)
I love everything about this play. The backhanded stop twists his momentum away from the play, so he just casually jumps, spins and flips the ball across his body from foul territory and hits Morneau in the chest. That ball goes from "not in the glove yet" to "on the way to first" in less than a second. And as Goodman pointed out, that's a center fielder coming down the line and he was out by like fifteen feet:
That's a super difficult play that Arenado makes look like a routine grounder.
4. The sprawling dive/butt-throw combo (June 15th, 2013)
These next four all belong in the "revolutionizing the third base position" category. The first thing that should be noted on this one is that Arenado is playing in on the grass, so he really has no business getting to a ball that's hit this hard and this far to his right. Then, because he has to bring his glove across his body, he ends up snagging the ball once it's actually past him. (The super slow-mo replay of his dive is memorizing). The sprawling dive leaves him laying face-first on the grass with his feet pointing at first base for a moment. He fluently bounces up onto his ass and stops his momentum, rears back and throws to first, leaving him laying on his chest again. I was at this game and thought, Well, I've never seen anything like that.
3. The dive/sprint/across-the-body-throw double play (April 24, 2015)
This one combines extreme elements of athleticism and field awareness. He makes a beautiful dive to his right again, but my favorite part is when he scrambles to his feet he takes just a split-second to survey the whole field. He seems almost-surprised to have a play at third, but also sees McGehee not running hard out of the box. So he sprints to the bag, lunges, and gets the out while flinging the ball on the money across the diamond for the double play. I'm thinking there's a reason McGehee wasn't running hard out of the box: He knew there was no way anybody even attempts a double play there. Except Nolan did.
2. The jump-throw cutoff (May 4th, 2014)
Nobody does this. I mean, come on. Who does this? The standard move here is to catch the ball flat-footed and do a little fake throw to third to scare the runner back (and make yourself look cool) while preventing the runner at first from advancing. Nobody else would see the runner drifting off third base out of the corner of their eye and jump to save a split-second (and catch a high throw), then throw while falling down get the ol' 7-5-6 double play. Just amazing.
1. The Tarp Catch (April 14th, 2015)
Always and forever, one of the coolest defensive plays I've ever seen.
And the Vine of this one is equally cool. I watched this for about four hours straight the morning after he made this play.
Nolan Arenado is the best defensive third baseman in the game and appears to be on his way to a legendary, Gold Glove-filled defensive career. He's incredible. He's a treat to watch.
No weekly departments this week, because I was on an extended-weekend vacation (congrats Matt and Sarah) and was a completely out of the loop. Hopefully I can come back strong with some studs and asses and stuff in seven days.
Full Jonny Gomes speech. This is the greatest thing I've ever watched. https://t.co/1OuoQjd4Ya— Tom (@TJFsports) November 3, 2015
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