These are the best and most eye-popping catches of the week in baseball
It is often said of the best players that they make the game look easy. A smooth swing effortlessly sends a double into the gap. An early read on a fly ball makes a difficult catch look routine.
Sometimes, however, a play is so difficult that not even the best players can make it look easy. It is hard and it demands to be seen as such. What follows are the best defensive plays from the last week in baseball that look hard ... because they were.
7. Cody Bellinger's piggyback grab
Usually, great catches are one-man endeavors, but sometimes the task is so great that even the best players need a helping hand. Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger utilized teammate Joc Pederson's statuesque frame to get the necessary elevation to rob this liner in the gap during Tuesday's 2-1 win over the Cardinals.
6. Pat Neshek's dive to start a double play
Pitcher defense doesn't get talked about as much as it should. As the second-closest player to the batter under normal defensive alignments, the pitcher has to rely on quick reactions to make most plays. On a bunt attempt from Ian Desmond during Thursday's 2-1 win, Phillies pitcher Pat Neshek showed both quick reactions and strong athleticism to start off a double play.
5. Denard Span leaps to rob Matt Kemp of extra bases
Denard Span has made a career out of solid outfield defense, regularly making great plays. His defense is so good that he can make up for non-ideal reads with some ups and a snowcone grab, like the one he made during Saturday's 6-3 loss to the Braves.
4. Tim Anderson leaps to grab a line drive
Before taking up baseball, White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson led his high school basketball team to an Alabama state championship. Those very skills that made him a successful basketball player contribute to his defensive prowess at the shortstop position as well.
The vertical he showed on this line drive from Victor Martinez would be good enough for a slam dunk on the hardwood. On the diamond, it was good for an unassisted double play during Sunday's 7-3 win over the Tigers.
3. Starlin Castro and Aaron Judge show the importance of chemistry
When it comes to defense, two gloves are better than one. This principle is rarely put into practice for logistical reasons, but Starlin Castro and Aaron Judge showed that it is still very much the case during the Yankees' 3-2 win over the Athletics on Saturday.
The official scoring of the play didn't give Castro credit for the assist on Judge's grab, but there's no doubt that Judge -- always one to defer to teammates -- gave Castro the credit he deserves.
2. Austin Hedges lays out for a foul ball:
Recent developments in evaluating catcher defense place pitch framing and game-calling front and center, but during Tuesday's 9-3 loss to the Mets, Padres catcher Austin Hedges showed that catcher defense also involves reactions, range and flashy glove-work.
1. Albert Almora Jr. makes a diving four-star grab:
In the first inning of Monday's 6-4 win against the Cubs, Giants first baseman Brandon Belt hit a ball into the gap that should have been extra bases. Almora Jr. had less than five seconds to cover 89 feet. He used those 4.9 seconds well to make a catch that gets made only 44 percent of the time according to Statcast.
Now it's your turn. What do you think was the best catch of the week?