Here are the most eye-popping catches from the last week in baseball
"Defense wins championships" is a mantra more often associated with basketball and football than baseball. That is not to say that defense is not important in baseball -- in fact, with the advent of Statcast's Catch Probability, we now have a tool to more properly appreciate the impact of defensive contributions.
More important, though, good defense is fun. It's fun to watch and it's probably fun to do if you're one of the few humans skilled enough to actually play defense in a baseball game. What follows are the six best catches of the past week -- with an additional honorable mention:
Honorable Mention: Christian Yelich catches a fish
During the Marlins' recent trip to Seattle, Yelich stopped by the Pike Place Market, where someone threw a fish in his general direction. He may have caught the Catch of the Week, but this did not wind up a catch of the week.
6. Alex Gordon's diving catch
In the sixth inning of Tuesday's game against the Giants, with the Royals holding on to a one-run lead, Gordon made a great diving catch on a Chris Marrero fly ball. Though the Royals went on to lose, 2-1, in extra innings, Gordon's defense was surely not to blame.
5. Christian Vazquez leaps into the net
Catching foul balls as a catcher is tough work. Not only are they usually navigating weird angles, but they also have to deal with the pesky mask they wear. Vazquez overcame both obstacles with athleticism and grace.
4. Christian Yelich slams into the outfield wall
Already recognized with an Honorable Mention, Yelich wasn't content to be left out of the numeric portion of these rankings. His willingness to slam into an immovable object at full speed is a testament to the vast import of these rankings.
3. Matt Boyd spears a comebacker
Pitchers aren't often called upon to make defensive plays, but when they are, their position a mere 60 feet, six inches from the pitcher demands quick reflexes. Boyd put those reflexes on display to reach, jump, and rob Brandon Guyer's line drive.
2. Adrian Gonzalez catches a ball with his chin
This glove-flip from pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu rode up on Gonzalez pretty quickly. With Charlie Blackmon closing down on the bag, he had no choice but to improvise to make the catch.
It wasn't the prettiest play we've ever seen, but Gonzalez's inventiveness merits our attention. As you can see, he's perfectly satisfied to appear in the second spot in these rankings.
1. Marcell Ozuna hangs on the wall to rob a home run
The greatest and most amazing catch of the week comes courtesy of Ozuna, who clearly saw the outfield wall as a tool for catching rather than an impediment to it. When Ozuna returned to the dugout, pitcher Dan Straily, anticipating these very rankings, congratulated a giddy Ozuna on his top billing.
Now it's your turn. What do you think was the best catch of the week?