Presenting the 2017 All Out-of-Position Team
Baseball had its share of surprises in 2017, but few were as strange as the sight of well-known players out of place. Just like no one expected to see Shelby Miller manning left field in 2016, it was bizarre to see some players end up where they did on these particular days.
Together, this group makes up the 2017 All Out-of-Position Team, and we would love to see them get together to play in these spots on a 162-game basis. What's life without a little adventure, anyway? These guys have just about seen it all.
Pitcher: Scooter Gennett
Become just the 17th player in MLB history to hit four home runs in one game? Check.
The Reds found a man to do both in 2017, and his name was Scooter Gennett, the first player to ever pull off this combo in one season when he pitched on Aug. 14. He even added in a funky sidearm angle, too!
J.D. Martinez might have had a four-homer game of his own, but let's see him pitch.
Catcher: Andrew Romine
Speaking of history, Tigers utilityman Andrew Romine pulled off a rare feat of his own in 2017 when he played all nine positions on Sep. 30. Only four other players in MLB history had done that, and none since 2000.
Yes, this was a planned experience out of position, but give Romine credit for doing it. When a Blaine Hardy pitch deflected off his glove for a passed ball, Romine quickly gained some more appreciation for the work of catchers like his brother, Austin. (He even wore one of Austin's old gloves.)
"It speeds up, man," Romine said to MLB.com's Jason Beck. "When runners get on and things start happening, you don't want to put the wrong finger down. I had nightmares of putting down something and then they hit a home run."
Thankfully for Romine, that didn't happen. He moved to second base to finish the inning with only one run scoring, and the Tigers won, 3-2.
First base: Bryan Mitchell
Pulling off the ol' "Waxahachie Swap" is almost an instantaneous inclusion on the All Out-of-Position Team, and that's exactly what Yankees manager Joe Girardi did for pitcher Bryan Mitchell on April 30.
See, the Yankees were short on bullpen arms by the time Mitchell took the mound against the Orioles for the top of the ninth. He retired the side, but when the Yankees tied the game at 4 to force extra innings, Girardi chose to use closer Aroldis Chapman in the 10th to increase his chances for a win. Girardi also wanted to keep Mitchell available, though, so he stunned the Yankee Stadium crowd by asking him to play first base for an inning. Mitchell was game.
"I wasn't expecting that at the time, for sure," Mitchell said. "[Larry Rothschild] basically came up and asked if I'd ever done it. I was like, 'Yeah, a while ago, but I'm capable.' That was pretty much it. He said, 'All right, get a glove.'"
The results were mixed. Mitchell had a popup glance off his glove, though he did successfully snare another opportunity two batters later. When he came back to pitch in the 11th, however, the Orioles scored on him en route to a 7-4 victory. Nice try anyway, Joe!
Second base: Chase Headley
Girardi went for another odd move on July 22 against the Mariners. The Yankees had acquired third baseman Todd Frazier, so incumbent Chase Headley ended up taking most of his starts at first base in the second half.
On this day, Garrett Cooper got the start at first with Headley on the bench. After some pinch-hitting and pinch-running to tie it up at 5 in the top of ninth, Girardi needed to get creative. Didi Gregorius and Cooper were out of the game, so Austin Romine entered at first base while Ronald Torreyes shifted over from second to play shortstop.
Oh, and for the first time in 1,350 MLB games, Headley played second base. This wasn't an infield shift-adjusted second base, either -- Headley was actually at the keystone. Unfortunately, he never got a chance to make a play, and the Mariners walked it off in 10 innings.
Third base: Travis d'Arnaud
The Mets were in a bind on Aug. 16. Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes were injured, and they needed someone to handle the hot corner. Asdrubal Cabrera would help, but to essentially serve as his caddy, manager Terry Collins called upon catcher Travis d'Arnaud.
No, d'Arnaud had never played anywhere aside from catcher in his 11-year professional career, save for two games at first base with Triple-A Las Vegas in 2012. No, he didn't even own his own glove, as he borrowed one from David Wright. ("Use it well. Dive for everything," Wright told him.)
Although d'Arnaud looked ready to handle some chances while taking grounders in pregame, Collins used a smart strategy to keep the infield action focused on the more experienced Cabrera, switching them back and forth between second and third, depending on who was at bat. d'Arnaud's only exposure came on a popup to second base, but at least the box score was one to remember:
Asdrubal Cabrera 2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B
Travis d'Arnaud 3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B
Shortstop: Josh Donaldson
Josh Donaldson has been a constant presence at third base for the Blue Jays since coming over from the A's in 2015, but fans were treated to a different angle of Donaldson for a little while in 2017. With shortstop Troy Tulowitzki injured, manager John Gibbons decided to tweak his lineup a little bit, and it required a new challenge of sorts for Donaldson -- becoming a shortstop.
It wasn't the craziest idea. After all, Donaldson has often ended up covering the shortstop position in various infield shifts. Nonetheless, it was a change, as Donaldson had just three professional innings at shortstop under his belt since being drafted as a catcher in 2007, and he had never appeared in the field anywhere for the Blue Jays except third base.
It was smooth sailing for the former MVP. He made two starts and four appearances between Aug. 18-22 without making an error before returning to the hot corner for the remainder of the season. No sweat, right?
Left field: Jose Reyes
Most of the All Out-of-Position Team's cameo appearances went off without a hitch, but the odds were that someone would have a tougher time. That burden fell on Jose Reyes, who, like d'Arnaud, tried to help his manager maneuver through injuries by playing elsewhere on the field.
Buoyed by the thought, the Mets started Reyes in left field on Aug. 29 against the Reds. It was his first start in left since he was a 17-year-old Minor Leaguer in 2000. As evidenced by the video above where Reyes misplayed a Billy Hamilton fly ball into a double, it could have gone better. Alas.
Center field: Freddy Galvis
In late August, the Phillies made a decision to open some opportunities in the field for up-and-coming prospects like shortstop J.P. Crawford. It wasn't a slam-dunk call, as Freddy Galvis had just hit 20 homers for them the year before at the position, but he took the task of trying out another spot in center field.
"I think September is a time where they see a lot of new players, a lot of young players," he said to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. "That was the conversation. I'm good, man. I just want to win. I just want to have the best team here in Philadelphia."
The Phillies started Galvis in center during the second game of a doubleheader against the Braves on Aug. 30, and it went pretty well. He made some running catches, did a nice slide to cut off a double and even had some fun with it, too, swapping out gloves between innings.
Galvis ended up playing shortstop for most of September, anyway, and didn't return to center, but he gets some enthusiastic claps from us anyway.
Right field: Javier Baez
On the one hand, it's hardly a surprise to see a Cub on this team. Joe Maddon has played Kris Bryant in center, Anthony Rizzo at second and has never hesitated to try even his biggest names at a new spot. Regardless, Javier Baez was among the least likely candidates to see time in the outfield, given his propensity for defensive gems up the middle.
After some moves on May 14 against the Cardinals, however, Maddon needed a right fielder, so he asked Baez to play there for the first time in his career. Nothing happened aside from him capably playing a drive off the wall for a double, so count that as a W for Baez!